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Pentecostal church faces noise complaints for loud services

By The Associated Press

05.06.01

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MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Like many Pentecostal churches, prayer services at El Shaddai Assemblies of God feature a choir backed by a band — electric guitars, keyboards, drums and other percussion instruments.

Congregants say they're making "a joyful noise unto the Lord," but those who live in the neighborhood where the church is located say their own peaceful Sundays are disrupted. Now the church must defend itself against two noise complaints.

"We are not making noise for the sake of making noise," church pastor Danny Quijano told The Star-Ledger of Newark for the April 28 editions. "It is the way we worship God."

According to Keith Patterson, the church's lawyer, freedom of religion and of free expression are at stake. Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union, agrees.

But some neighbors say the two-hours services, held twice each Sunday, force them to go inside and close windows to block the sound, which they compare to a rock concert.

"The issue is they're saying they have the right to worship the way they choose according to the First Amendment. But we have a right to peace and quiet," said Michelle Gutowski, who lives across from the church. "Sometimes it just gets to the point where we've just had it. I think, 'My God, that beat is going to drive me insane.' "

One summons was issued during a morning service and one during an afternoon service. Patterson said if the charges were not dropped at the May 15 court hearing, the church would take the case to federal court.

Related

Alabama city drops fine levied against noisy church
Bay Community Church still plans to file a federal lawsuit over what it calls an unconstitutional ordinance.  08.11.99

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