By Staff, Baptist Message
METAIRIE — Liberty Institute has filed an appeal on behalf of Vintage Church, a Louisiana Baptist congregation involved in a dispute regarding noise levels during its Sunday morning services.
According to a press release by the non-profit law firm which focuses on religious liberty issues, the Liberty Institute along with volunteer attorney Roy Bowes filed the appeal today with the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Vintage Church, located in Metairie, has met in a tent since August while its sanctuary is undergoing construction. The church filed a lawsuit against Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and his officers, saying they used intimidation tactics in an attempt to shut down its weekly worship services because of noise complaints by a single individual. The suit also described the noise level ordinances as flawed.
Pastor Rob Wilton said the church was trying to be a good neighbor by hiring technicians to ensure sound levels would not exceed 60 decibels, the limit being imposed on the church which equates to the noise of a running dishwasher, and my moving to acoustical guitars with no amplifications.
A judge on Dec. 22 declined to issue an injunction against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and Jefferson Parish over the matter.
Attorneys for Liberty Institute contend that Jefferson Parish officials violated the church’s religious freedom under federal and state law. They argue the actions by the government have placed a substantial burden on the church’s exercise of religion, without a compelling government interest.
Justin Butterfield, Senior Counsel for Liberty Institute, said, “”It is discriminatory—as well as ridiculous—that Jefferson Parish is demanding that Vintage Church remain below 60 dB while power tools, construction noise, and demolition noise are permitted, even though they are much louder. We are confident that the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal will vindicate Vintage Church’s rights under federal and state law.”