Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Township Officials Sued For Raiding Church and Threatening Prosecution of Rock Band

On Monday, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) filed a federal lawsuit against the Waterford (Michigan) Township supervisor, prosecutor and two Waterford police officials. The suit charges that defendants infringed the freedom of speech, association and free exercise of religion of Faith Baptist Church and of a Christian rock band playing there. A release by TMLC and a long article in WorldNet Daily discuss details of the case. Apparently after a neighbor complained of the loud music from the Church's worship band, Prosecuting Attorney Walter Bedell arranged for uniformed police officers to raid the Church and threaten band members with disorderly conduct charges. Another raid ensued the following Sunday and the prosecutor personally conducted surveillance on the church from his parked car. The suit alleges that Waterford Township authorities targeted the Church because of the type of religious music it uses in its services. Meanwhile today's Detroit News reports that a separate lawsuit has been filed by a neighbor of the Church asking an Oakland County Circuit Court to limit the volume levels of the Church's music.

UPDATE: Here is the full text of the complaint in Faith Baptist Church v. Waterford Township. [Thanks to Brian D. Wassom]

12 comments:

RobJames said...

Unbelievable! Is this happening in the USA or the former USSR?

Barb said...

I think it's a problem when churches are so huge that if they do an outdoor festival, it has to be loud enough to bother a neighborhood--but that shouldn't be all the time --that the noise would permeate the neighborhood.

As for VOLUME, there ought to be a limit to the decibels when rock bands are amplified ANYWHERE, because these overly zealous sound techs are DEAFENING people --especially young people --for a lifetime of hearing loss. I've been at my own church's international youth conference and complained that I could hear perfectly well in the arena with my ears totally stuffed with cotton balls! What are we thinking? And so we complained --and the leadership said, 'but the kids like it this way!" SO WHAT! The kids like all day candy and ice cream and tv consumption, too!

Why in this area of sound, do we think teen volume preferences MUST be tolerated.

The officials and neighborhood objections should have nothing to do with the type of music --but the volume is a legitimate gripe. i think communities should be tolerant of outdoor festivals on special occasions--as The Church on Strayer holds around the 4th of July, but even then, volumes should n't be damaging to the people in the near vicinity of the speakers --and if they are not that loud, i bet they won't be so objectionable in the neighborhood either.

Chimera said...

"Brandon Bolling, the Law Center attorney handling the case, stated, 'The Township prosecutor was very explicit: he told the pastors that churches should not play ‘rock music,’ and threatened that each time he heard music coming from the church he would conduct a raid.'"

That's a quote from one of the articles (I can't open .pdf files, so I can't read the complaint in full), and it points out yet another reason for church and state to stay separate. Nobody has any right to tell any church was kind of music they can play!

Volume, on the other hand, is a legitimate issue. Not only can loud noise affect hearing, but it just plain annoys people, and there are laws and bylaws to prevent that.

Anonymous said...

As a person who goes to the church there is many raids happening and this is not a rock band it is just the regular praise and worship band playing on a sunday service. Decimals are known and measured they are within the legal limit. I understand it to be This is just a real attack against Christianity and the free exercise of religion. Reading all the other news info on this you will see also.

Barb said...

You see the vitriol against Christians on various blogs --and in Europe. They hate us for believing the bible and teaching it on the moral issues. Makes them feel guilty I think. I think we are in for some persecution in the U.S. because of the gay issue --like Dag Gruen? who went to jail for preaching the Bible in NOrway in his church.

Barb said...

That is, he went to jail for preaching about homosex from the Bible.

Chimera said...

"They hate us for believing the bible and teaching it on the moral issues."

No. They hate the way some Christians keep intruding into other peoples' personal lives and poking their noses where they don't belong. They hate it when Muslims do it, too. It has nothing to do with Christianity, itself. It has to do with people who cannot leave other people alone regarding private issues that are nobody else's bloody business!

And Norway just ratified same-sex marriage. Any official in any institution who rails against official policy is just asking for trouble.

Barb said...

WHOA -- Any official in any institution who rails against official policy is just asking for trouble.

What happened to constitutional free speech and the right to dissent from public policy --the right to criticize one's gov't.???

That's what conservatives fear about the hate speech laws and the "fairness doctrine" for broadcasting--that our right to teach and preach the Bible on the issue of sexuality will be punishable by law --

that will be a sorry day for religious liberty and freedom of speech.

There are many, many common sense reasons --besides the religious one --for opposing the legalization of sodomy with same sex marriage.

Anonymous said...

The city of Hamtramck, Michigan has decided to permit a mosque to "broadcast by loudspeaker" the "Muslim call to prayer" 5 times a day. Below is an excerpt (with link) from a CBS article describing the issues this has raised:

CBS/AP) Long known for pierogi and polka, the bustling city of Hamtramck, Mich., is now debating whether to add an amplified Arabic chant to the local sights and sounds.

In a sign of the deep changes in this once predominantly Polish town, the City Council is expected Tuesday to pass a noise ordinance amendment that would permit mosques to issue the traditional Islamic call to prayer over loudspeakers.

===========

Issues--

The church had its doors and windows open at the time.

The local city ordnance I read in the complaint does not contain a decibel level, making enforcement purely subjective. Similar laws have been help unconstitutionally vague.

The church was built 47 years before the new neighbor moved in. He lives only a few yards from the church.

Apparently he had to get a zoning variance, so he had an expectation of noise.

The neighbor is a Democrat and elected politician. There may or may not be political bias and pressure.

=======

Possible resolution out of court--

Let the city pass a decibel-level noise ordnance. Let the church measure its sound levels at the property boundary.

The neighbor may have to endure the sounds of worship if he deliberately bought a house too close to expect silence. Prior claim you know...

As for the Mosque in Hammertrak, let a Baptist or Jewish or Catholic church also broadcast five times a day with power amplifiers. The city will have to allow all churches or none to do so. Can you imagine what will happen when the Shiite and Sunni clerics go at it with each other too? Let them speak without the amplifiers. And enforce the same laws for all.

Chimera said...

"What happened to constitutional free speech and the right to dissent from public policy --the right to criticize one's gov't.???"

Does it actually exist in practise anywhere? And that happened in Norway.

Anon, if I lived in Hamtramck, I'd probably be lobbying for silence. That would include not only the imam's call to prayer over a loudspeaker, but also those annoying damned bells from all those churches! Same law for all -- absolutely!

Barb said...

Church bells are pretty. Let them call to prayer without the amplifiers.

i say we with our bells were here first --and the bells are part of am. culture. If they want to hear the calls to prayer amplified, go back to the middle east. Do they amplify there??

Immigrants need to be a little polite and respectful of prevailing culture --or go home.

Anonymous said...

Loud amplied music should be a crime no matter who is doing it. It shows disrespect of the neighbors and others. Is this a communist country where others can force their loud music on you?

This issue has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with respect of others. No loud amplied music should be allowed ever, even if it bothers just one person. The church is suppose to be loving and caring of others. Forcing others to hear you is showing hate and disrespect.

Too bad some will not understand this message. If they were forced to hear any kind of music they hate maybe they would understand. It is a form of torture. I thought we lived in America.