I think Zimbabwe should follow the Nigerian example and ban noisy churches from suburbs. These churches, in the name of Jesus as they claim, give residents a torrid time, especially at night when they play loud music and scream into microphones deliberately violating the law and residents’ right to a peaceful environment.
By Kamurai Mudzingwa
They have thrown the Golden Rule out of their church windows. The Golden Rule says “do unto others what you want them to do unto you” or something to that effect. So if you want your neighbour to let you have peace, you should also let him have his peace.
Give an unwise chap a microphone and he will scream into it and this is what the overzealous pastors and their misguided congregants do. In Lagos, the Environmental Protection Department did a good job by banning such selfish people, who think they are the only ones who inhabit this world. We have the Environment Management Agency in Zimbabwe, but it looks like the organisation is not aware that noise is another form of environmental pollution and is a serious health hazard.
It is surprising that the organisation can sleep through all that noise judging by its inaction on issues concerning noise pollution. And it would be silly to assume that they are not aware of complaints against these rowdy elements that disturb others in the name of Jesus.
The law on public nuisance is quite clear. Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) read together with paragraph 2(a) (iii), (m) and (v) of the Third Schedule makes it clear on the law on public nuisance.
Specifically, the law says:
Any person who (a) wantonly
(ii) makes any noise or disturbance or plays any musical instrument or wireless in a public place
(m) shouts or screams in a public place to the annoyance of the public
(v) employs any means whatsoever, which are likely materially to interfere with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public or any section of the public, or does any act, which is likely to create a nuisance or obstruction; shall be guilty of criminal nuisance.
Apart from breaking the law, these people’s conduct is at complete variance with the tenets of ubuntu and communalism supposedly represented by the Christian faith that they preach daily. The Jesus they purport to follow is on record in the Bible as having implored people to love their neighbours. Perhaps their show of love for their neighbours is by disturbing their peace. They seem not to understand that the church is in the community and not the other way round. When residents are quiet about the racket they cause, they should not take them for granted. As churches, they should encourage harmony. What kind of morality are they teaching their gullible followers? Are they teaching them that as long as you profess to be doing something on behalf of the Christian God, you can trample on anyone’s and everyone’s rights? They should understand that not everyone belongs to their noisy churches and that not everyone wants to be a Christian — it is their right.
The arrogant pastors and their members have the false notion that it is their God-given right to ensure that the moment they start their services, everything else in their neighbourhoods should come to a standstill. They are the self-appointed little gods.
Whoever equated noise with prayer has made peace-loving residents miserable. And these noisemakers have the false belief that everyone is ignorant of the law and their rights. We know that there is competition to win as many people as possible to their churches for material gain, but this should not affect everyone. The whole idea of the loud noise is to attract people miles away. Why should 50 people cause hell by making noise for thousands who want peace? If this is the Christian spirit, then I wonder if it is a spirit from “heaven” or a spirit from “hell”.
The irony is lost on them that while they are busy castigating the devil in their amplified voices, they would be playing the devil in the process.
Households have students who want to study, sick people who need a serene environment, workers who want to rest before they return to work and old people who want to rest, among others. But men and women, who call themselves Christians with amplified microphones, ignore that. They think they are not only super human, but are above the law.
Some of these misguided elements even turn their homes into churches blasting music and screaming into microphones throughout the night. Sometimes I wonder if these people are really sane. Do they think their neighbours enjoy that? Is Christianity so intoxicating that one can forget the needs and rights of one’s neighbours? Ask such misguided elements why they make so much noise and they will tell you it is their right to worship. They take their right to worship as their right (which does not exist) to make noise for others. Even primary schoolchildren know that noise is not good for others.
Try talking sense into such people and they accuse you of being the devil or they will tell you that they are in their premises. They think if councils give them a 500m² area or so for worship they would have been given the whole suburb to abuse. They do not understand the meaning of boundaries; they think boundaries should also be drawn in the air to show how far their noise should go. Some of these shameless people also cause a racket for their fellow church members with whom they share boundaries with. Because they do not consider others, they see nothing wrong with that. It is like they would be openly saying to other churches they share boundaries with, “You are doing nonsense, you don’t know God and how to worship Him. Shut up and listen to us! If you don’t shut up we will ensure that you won’t hear each other”.
What the congregants don’t know in their lack of wisdom is that the noise that pounds their eardrums (think of little children) daily or regularly has serious health consequences in the long run.
I applaud Harare City Council for trying to come up with measures to ban such noisemakers. Most residents are not worried if these people worship their way to hell as long as they do not disturb their peace. It is high time the law protected peace-loving residents. Noise is noise, period. It does not change to be something else because you are screaming, “Jeeeeeeesuuuus!” into an amplified microphone.
Kamurai Mudzingwa writes in his personal capacity. Feedback email@example.com