Print Article

California Church Threatened With $500 Per Day Fine After Gospel Choir Accused of Excessive Noise — but They’re Fighting Back

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Oct 19, 2015, The Blaze

Now, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a religious liberty legal firm, is stepping in and filing a Public Records Act request in an effort to ensure that government officials aren’t unfairly targeting Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, according to a press release.

The Becket Fund is calling on officials to withdraw the threat and “proceed in a manner that respects the rights of the church,” framing the prospect of $500 in fines per day as a punishment for the gospel choir being “too joyful.”

“Don’t the enforcement bureaucrats in Oakland have better things to do than to sic the police on a church choir?” Becket Fund attorney Daniel Blomberg rhetorically asked in a statement. “This church contributes to a community that is already suffering enough. This kind of government overreach is precisely why we need strong religious liberty protections for minority groups.”

A spokesperson for the city said that the notice to the church was out of courtesy and that there are no plans to implement a fine, seeing as there have been no additional complaints. The Becket Fund, though, is still looking into the matter.

“[We] strongly condemns this kind of heavy-handed censorship, and is very concerned that this may be unfairly discriminatory,” the legal firm said. “Some commentators have already raised concerns that this may be an example of punishing ‘singing while black.’”