A South Carolina pastor is behind bars for repeatedly violating the city’s noise ordinance. According to WLTX TV, Columbia police officers have been called to Rehoboth United Assemblies Church more than 50 times due to noise complaints.
Reportedly a majority of the complaints came from one neighbor.
Following a three-day trial a Richland County jury sentenced Pastor Johnnie Clark to two weeks in jail for unlawful sound amplification.
“I can’t believe it, jail time, for serving God, what’s next,” Pastor and First Lady Harriet Clark told WLTX.
In response to a two-year long dispute between the church and its neighbors, the judge granted an injunction that prohibit the church from using equipment like drums or microphones between 8PM and 8AM.
“It’s up to the neighbors to say if it’s irritating to them or a nuisance to them, Thomas Borders, a 20-year member of Rehoboth United Assemblies Church, told WLTX. “Well you can get a weed eater and go outside and if someone complains nothing will be done, but when it comes to worshiping God it’s now a problem.”
Leaders claim the building existed before the neighboring homes and the church shouldn’t be punished.
Clark maintains the only solution is to soundproof the church, which is costly.