Church fights for right to ring bells

Feb. 3, 2010 at 1:48 AM

PHOENIX, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Phoenix must decide whether noise from ringing church bells is a nuisance.

The Cathedral of Christ the King, backed by a Christian legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, has challenged the Phoenix noise ordinance as vague and unconstitutional, The Arizona Republic reported.

In May 2009, a municipal judge limited the cathedral, which had been ringing its bells as many as 13 times a day, to Sunday morning. Judge Lori Metcalf also found Bishop Rick Painter guilty of disturbing the peace and gave him a suspended jail sentence.

During oral arguments Monday in U.S. District Court, Erik Stanley, a lawyer for the defense fund, said the noise ordinance is so vague it is impossible to determine if any given act is illegal. Several other churches support the cathedral.

"These cases are important because no pastor should be convicted for peacefully exercising his religion," Stanley said. "That's what this whole thing boils down to."

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