By Dr. Inetta Cooper
Raleigh, NC (BlackNews.com) — On Saturday, January 14, 2012, I rented the Glorious Church, located at 725 Glascock Street in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Bishop William Spain is the pastor, to have our annual national New Year’s celebration, which fell on Martin Luther King weekend.
We were unaware that police officers sat outside during the service. There were about 100 young adults in the midst of worship. Minister Cory Wiley, 34 years old, an up and coming minister, brought the word. Then the youth, in their way, went into musical praise. It was an awesome display of worship by our young people, in their 20s and 30s, the age which we lose them.
At approximately 10:15 pm, two caucasian police officers entered the sanctuary, unsolicited. The first officer unsnapped his gun holster and pepper spray, placing his hands on his gun, ready to draw, and stopped the music, shut down the service, and ordered everyone to leave the premises.
The officer was yelling and screaming, stating enough was enough and we had to leave. We were petrified, and immediately began to pray. They actually stayed until everyone left and made sure the church was locked. No one was fighting. No one was arguing. We were just singing! They said the neighbors were disturbed by the ‘noise’ and unknown to us, there has been a campaign to run this church out of the neighborhood by constantly calling the police complaining about noise. The neighbors call, during Sunday services, and choir rehearsals. The church can’t have revivals, youth programs, musicals, and has even been interrupted by police during a funeral!
Does this mean that the constitution applies to some, but not all? I have been accused of playing the race card; well, I play the card that I’m dealt. Raleigh’s finest would never have entered the First Baptist Church of Raleigh during their youth service with guns ready to be drawn, stop the service, disrespect the congregants, and order everyone out! NEVER!!! I said it and I stand by it. NEVER!!! This officer’s ostentatious display of disrespect for the House of God, disrespect for the people of God, and disrespect for the United States Constitution, is impudent to say the least.
The police officer clearly infringed upon our Constitutional right. We have four National events per year and this was the first of 2012. This incident was totally out of line, and to add insult to injury, admitted by a high ranking officer, in a January 23rd meeting, THERE IS NO POLICE REPORT! Only a police dispatch form documenting that the neighbor called the station, and that a car was dispatched to the address. Therefore, IF it IS, WAS, or WILL BE a city “noise” ordinance, what signifies noise? Dogs barking, children playing, sirens, or a church choir? The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding (prohibiting) the free exercise of religion, This is the United States, where we have freedom and liberties, so why did this officer enter the church ready to pull his gun and why did he order us to stop service and leave the premises, and why is there NO POLICE REPORT? Total injustice. This is unbelievable that in 2012, with a Black President, you would think we’ve overcome! Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The pledge of allegiance to the flag says: “with liberty and justice FOR ALL”. Does this not apply to the little black church?
The world witnessed the importance of music in the black church during the recent funeral service of Whitney Houston. Many strengths and talents have been birthed by the Black church. We can’t let it be a thing of the past. The NPower International Ministry, Glorious Church and New Hope Church of Raleigh has formed an organization called, National Association for Religious Justice (www.NAFRJ.org). This association is interested in setting standards that will not tolerate such behavior against the Body of Christ according to the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution. As long as praise & worship, is taking place in an established church building (not the home, hotel etc) law enforcement can not come into the church and ask anyone to leave unless it is a riot, fire, or threat to public safety. The National Association for Religious Justice, will fight for the rights and freedom to worship in the United States. No longer, can we (the Body of Christ), sit passively by, while the bureaucrats chip away at our right to worship. There is so much talent in the church yet to be discovered, but if we let them shut us down, that talent may never be shared with the world, ultimately bringing souls to Christ. Music is the way in which the Black church celebrates’ Jesus. Take away our music, and you impede our right to freedom of Religion.
The National Association for Religious Justice consists of the church helping the church, by fighting for the right to worship, without hindrances. The organization will pursue every legal option available, to ensure music and the Gospel is once again, free to be heard by all. The Black church is a beacon in our neighborhood and The Black church is responsible for many gifts being birthed, because of the music; Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, BeBe and CeCe, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, and list goes on. The neighbors will not allow the Glorious Church to have choir rehearsals, revivals, or any kind of evening services, and during morning services the police are called. The police has even interrupted a funeral, because the neighbors said they were too loud!!! Additionally, The New Hope Church of Raleigh NC have had their services interrupted by police, and they constantly drive by on Sunday morning. The Faith Builders Church in Burlington has been taken to City Council because residents say they heard loud noises – shouting, music and â€œthumping – during the week and- Sometimes itâ€™s during the mornings – like on Sundays -…
A Pastor in Ghana was arrested because he held church services with music; This would never happen in America you say? Don’t be so sure, unless we make our voice heard now!
To raise funds, I’ve developed an Ebook entitled: “Liberty and Justice for All?” It’s a full report of churches that are being cited for noise in the United States, which you can receive for any donation via our website, www.NARJ.org
Dr. Inetta J. Cooper is the founder of NPower Ministry and the co-founder of the National Association For Religious Justice (NARJ).