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Louisiana Church Hit with Criminal Summons for Worship Service Noise

Louisiana Church Hit with Criminal Summons for Worship Service Noise

A Louisiana church has been issued a criminal summons after the local sheriff’s office declared that its morning worship services were too loud. 

Charisma News reports that trouble began in August when Vintage Church of New Orleans acquired a permit to conduct its services in an enclosed tent while the existing church underwent renovations. The church, which is located within a subdivision, then received complaints from neighbors that the worship services were too loud. 

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office (JPSO) declared that the church services could not exceed 60 decibels before 8:50 a.m., about the same noise level as a dishwasher. This meant no amplification equipment could be used. 

However, Liberty Institute attorney Justin Butterfield said the neighborhood allows equipment such as lawn mowers and jackhammers to be used beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. 

Vintage Church pastor Rob Wilton said, "It's been difficult. We have been consistently hassled by our neighbors and by the parish officials since the first of August—every single week."

The situation worsened when JPSO officers arrived at the church on Nov. 15 and issued a second criminal summons to Pastor Matt Brichetto after receiving another complaint. The officers investigated the church and determined no amplification equipment had been used, but issued the summons, explaining that the noise level still exceeded 60 decibels. 

Pastor Brichetto said, "I preached without a microphone but we still received a second criminal summons. They literally issued the summons in front of the congregation. Thankfully they allowed me to continue to preach."

The Liberty Counsel is defending the church in court, arguing that the local government is "imposing unwarranted and unreasonable demands on the members of Vintage Church."

Publication date: December 15, 2015