An American pastor has been jailed in a battle between his church and the community over noise levels.
Johnnie Clark, pastor of Rehoboth United Assemblies Church of Columbia, South Carolina was found guilty of ”unlawful sound amplification” Thursday, September 11, 2014, according to an African-American blog, I Love Black People.
The guilty verdict was handed down by a Richland County jury after a three-day trial in which prosecutors claim that the pastor had been warned repeatedly to reduce the noise level of his services. He failed to head these warnings.
Police say they received over 50 noise complaints from neighbours of the church and that the noise came from loud musical equipment played during night services. Residents made recordings of the noise which was used as evidence against the pastor at the trial.
The church had been in this same location for over 25 years, according to The State newspaper, but recent developments had brought the church in conflict with newer residents of the community.
The church had previously been ordered to pay multiple fines for noise making.
“How can you declare a church a public nuisance?” Clark told The State newspaper last year.
“I can’t believe it, jail time, for serving God, what’s next,” said Harriet Clark, the pastor’s wife and co-pastor.
According to Mrs. Clark, this would be the first time in 30-years that she would be conducting a church service without her husband by her side.
Clark is now expected to serve a two-weeks jail term.
Black churches are known to be loud and ”jubilant” especially during praise and worship sessions. Singing and shouting, dancing and drumming – hallmarks of Pentecostal worship – vibrate the walls of nearby homes, according to reports.
This punishment is, however, considered by many as being over the top.