The following article was sent to me by Joey Faust, Pastor of the Kingdom Baptist Church of Venus, Texas which is just a few miles South of Ft. Worth and just West of Mansfield. Pastor Faust and members of his church, for many years, on a regular basis, have conducted street preaching forays into downtown Ft. Worth. They have been harassed on a regular basis by Ft. Worth police at the instigation of business, theater and bar owners. At present, one of the members is fighting a misdemeanor charge in the local courts because a female lesbian reporter claimed that he hurt her ears while preaching. Even though she submitted no evidence to the court, the judge allowed the charges to go forward.
In the matter of the noise ordinance, it is obvious that the tables have been turned on the Devil. His purpose no doubt was to stop the free flow of the gospel message down town Ft. Worth, but he has now succeeded in giving total free access to the street preachers, with a guarantee of no police harassment, and it’s the bars, night clubs and boom boxes that have to turn down their decibels.
Someone has said that Ft. Worth on Friday nights is so quiet that families will be coming down town with their children because it’s been turned into a city park, in fact someone saw some little bunny rabbits running around, not the other kind. And is the Devil mad, and how. The following report was sent in by Pastor Faust.
Fort Worth finally passed its new noise ordinance. It limits the sound level to 80 decibels in the downtown, entertainment areas (70 decibels after 2:00 am on Friday and Saturday). At first we thought that this would put an end to street preaching. But after we bought several decibel readers and ran some tests, we found that we can preach quite loudly and still be under the 80 decibel limit. But the really great thing is that it has changed the whole mood of the city on the weekends.
We took our sound level readers, and a video camera, and walked in front of the various bars in the downtown area. Each one was sure to comply with the new ordinance (which comes with a $500 penalty). Our goal was to see if this new rule would be enforced only against the street preachers. If we found the outside music at the bars to be higher than the new noise limit, we intended to call the police and record on video whether they enforced the new code against them.
After we found the bars (at least this first week) to be in compliance, we began to notice how quiet it made the city! It created a more sober mood; and since the new limit does not actually limit our preaching and witnessing (as long as a few of us hold meters and learn our limits), it actually may be a blessing in disguise!
It quiets the bars, and creates a climate that is more open to discussing God and the Bible.
Of course, we would rather there not be such a law at all. But since they have to enforce the law in a uniform fashion for everyone, if their intended goal was to silence the preachers, this whole thing actually helps us! We can still preach and be heard, and they have simply helped to sober up the whole downtown area! Of course, if they discard the law, we will be free to raise our voices even louder over the racket. But for now, at least after the first week, we think the ordinance will actually help preachers, and hurt bar owners!
We did have to help a fellow preacher from another church who had a loud speaker. We "checked" him as we were passing by and found him to be slightly over the level. But he did not (even with his loud speaker) have to turn down his volume too much.
What man means for evil, God can use for good. We encourage street preachers (wherever they are passing these noise restrictions) to go to Radio Shack and by a $15 analog, hand-held sound level meter. The sound must register at 80 (in Fort Worth) from the place of the person making the complaint (or from the police officer). This is some distance, and it allows for an even greater volume of preaching. Yet bars, since the public city sidewalk is often right in front, must turn down their outside music speakers considerably. Surely, the wrath of man shall praise God!