19 July 2008

MUNICIPALLY FUNDED RELIGION

Today, between 2:00 and 2:45, a church service was held in Washington Park. This was definitely not the Washington Park Preacher. He has not been seen in several weeks. This Christian observance was held by a local church who called themselves "apostolic," but the PA system was distorting and I could not make out the full name of the church. The preacher was a young African American woman who shouted into her microphone, and her voice was broadcast loudly around the neighborhood surrounding the park. The amplification made it difficult if not impossible to choose to not listen. Those of us who do not share her beliefs, especially those of us who do not happen to be Christian, and have no plans to become Christian, were forced to endure a religious observance which we found offensive. Several months ago, the city of Cincinnati barred the Vineland Church from distributing free food to the poor and homeless in Washington Park. Reasons cited included a lack of public rest rooms, and an allegation that too much paper trash was left behind. The city of Cincinnati now allows an apostolic church --- a very loud, intrusive proselytizing denomination as it happens --- to hold religious observances in the park, and to run their preaching through a PA system that forces the neighborhood to listen. Washington Park is maintained by public funds. The city of Cincinnati has apparently endorsed one religion over another. This is breathtakingly unconstitutional. Whatever this apostolic group believes, it is a fact that no poor people were fed today. Only loud, ostentatious displays of one denomination's beliefs were broadcast across a neighborhood steaming through a miserably hot summer day. Anyone who lives in OTR who does not wish to be forced to listen to unwanted religious services should contact the city and complain. Or the U.S. Attorney's office, since it's obvious the city of Cincinnati has a de facto policy of endorsing a specific religion, and a specific denomination.

2 comments:

amoslanka said...

While I say first and foremost that it is ridiculous for a city to allow public church services while disallowing the feeding of the poor, that not what I intend to talk about here. I might not know the specifics of the situations you describe, but what kept you from leaving the park if you didn't want to hear a church service? Don't be mistaken in thinking that freedom of religion translates only into your right to not have to hear religious ideas that happen to be within earshot. Publicly owned locations are available for the use of all interest groups, not just religious ones. Freedom of religious guaruntees that the state will not sponsor a religion. It doesn't guaruntee what you seem to be calling "freedom from annoyance" or "freedom from being offended".

My statements, of course, assume that the city's granting of permits or whatever permission to the particular church was unbiased and without favor. I'm as much of one as any against unfair favoring of one special interest group over another. But I think the religious groups for some reason really get the shaft more often than any other special interest group does.

davidcarney said...

You're right, nothing kept me from leaving the park. But leaving the park was not enough: the PA system used by the church group broadcast the preachers comments loudly enough so that they could even be heard indoors in apts. near the park, and by anybody standing within a few blocks of the park.

It's not about me, Amos. It's about the electronic amplification of sound. My posting made no ad hominum arguement. All I ask is for the same courtesy from you.

If a person preaches in a public area, he may express his religious beliefs as loudly as he wants. His religious expression is protected by our Constitution.

If the same person uses a microphone, amplifier and speaker system, most jurisdictions consider him to be intruding upon other people's rights.

I did not use the words "freedom from annoyance" or "freedom from being offended." This is a red herring issue, sir.

While I am not a Christian, I am aware of Matthew 6:6,7 admonishing against hubris. "When you pray, go to your room and lock the door, so that they may not hear you."

All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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