Originally published October 15 2015
City of Oakland orders church to pay $3,500 plus $500 per day to continue to worship God
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) In what is yet another sign of government's war on Christianity, a Baptist church in Oakland, California, has been threatened by city officials to tone down its choir practice or face heavy fines for being a noise "nuisance."
As reported by CBS San Francisco, lovers of Gospel music think of it as "joyful noise" and acknowledge that it's anything but quiet.
"The music of the church reveals the life of the church, the enthusiasm of the church," Michael Wright, pastor at Solid Rock Baptist Church, told the local affiliate.
Oakland officials are seeing it differently, however.
CBS San Francisco states:
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in West Oakland recently received a letter from the city threatening a $3,500 nuisance fee and a $500 a day fine unless it toned down its choir practice.
The letter states in part, "...this activity may constitute a public nuisance due to its impact to the use and quiet enjoyment of the surrounding community's property."
In other words, the First Amendment rights of Pleasant Grove must be trampled on in order to ensure that others who live nearby are guaranteed a right that is not listed in the Constitution: a right to "quiet."
"Kind of hard to believe because we've been here about 65 years in the community and all of a sudden we get some concerns about the noise," Thomas A Harris III, the pastor at Pleasant Grove, told the local affiliate.
Priced out of their own neighborhoodWhat's really behind the complaints? Church pastors who met recently believe that the biggest culprit is gentrification; the church sits amidst a neighborhood filled with old Victorian homes. These properties are being bought up by affluent technology sector workers (who also tend to be liberal, intolerant and, yes, racist; just the opposite of what they preach, so to speak).
"We're being bought out. We're being moved out. We are being priced out of our own neighborhood," Lawrence Van Hook, the senior pastor at Community Church, told CBS San Francisco.
The pastors believe the complaints are coming from all the new tech residents.
"Those persons who are just new arrivals should not come and try to change the culture that existed before they arrived here," said George Holland, president of the Oakland branch of the NAACP. "We cannot have people come attack churches about music."
The NAACP is not only criticizing the city and its tactics, but also wants officials to provide more details and specifics about the complaints.
"There should have been discussions between the community and those people who are saying the church is making too much noise," Holland said.
Demanding non-existent rightsAt a recent meeting one evening, the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition addressed the issue and the complaints surrounding it. Coalition leaders have said they will continue to work with Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney to find a way to protect the rights of Oakland's churches.
In the meantime, the pastors say the city's actions threaten all churches and they will oppose them in court. In addition, the pastors are considering organizing outdoor church services throughout the city so that anyone who wants to can enjoy the Gospel music even more.
If the new arrivals are successful and Pleasant Grove is forced by the city to end its choir practices, the intolerant souls behind that effort won't be satisfied. Next, they'll go after local high school bands, which often practice early in the morning or late into evenings and can be heard for miles, or perhaps they will go after anyone who has the audacity to play a radio too loud for their liking.
Where in the Constitution does it say that we have the right to a noiseless existence, even if it means taking away a real right that is actually protected (or is supposed to be)?
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