Out of sight, but an earful
I first learnt of the Celestial Church of Christ, an African initiated church in the 1970s when I spend short school breaks at my cousin’s in Sagamu.
The church was situated at the end of the road with a stream running by the church into a dense forest, they could have been unnoticeably ensconced there without disturbance.
Yet, it was impossible to ignore them, at almost half a mile away, their daily rumpus or dare I say worship was loud, agitated and quite a public nuisance.
It came to a head one morning when the head of the house sent a cease and desist notice to the church to maintain a sense of considerate neighbourliness in their activities by lowering the volume of their orgies. God, we must appreciate is not hard of hearing.
Now, that was courageous, daring and bold, for anyone to challenge a religious establishment in that manner. It worked, they were quite amenable to the idea, probably under duress and with the knowledge that the aggrieved was a lawyer.
Mind the fine
Later, towards the end of the 1980s, I was a ward of some senior members of the Celestial Church of Christ, they were quite obliging to allow me attend the church of my choice rather than force me to align to their tenets, for that, I am exceedingly grateful.
However, the reason why we have this recollection of events past is because this morning I read in the newspaper that the pastor of a Celestial Church of Christ branch in Grays, Essex had been fined a total of £1,241.50 including costs for conducting unbearably loud services four times a week well into the early hours of the morning; 4:00AM that is. [Metro]
The neighbours had endured this public nuisance for months and one really wonders why any religious activity needs to be broadcast beyond the confines of the walls of the meeting place except for the need to use the sound to keep the members alert throughout the interminably long services.
More pertinently, what this suggests is a lack of understanding that what is tolerable and allowed in the hyper-religious Nigerian society borne of Lord Lugard’s suggestion that we have a vague dread of the supernatural, is hardly acceptable in many Western societies.
People are not as religiously imbued and those who have any sort of religious affiliation tend to go about their devotion with consideration and moderation, too high a bar of expectation required of an almost fanatical claque.
If this sanction does not serve as a deterrent, the council has suggested that the church might have to lose its sound equipment. Knowing that I have lived in a part of Essex where there was at least 6 non-establishment churches within 500 yards of our apartment, I was fully persuaded to veto an application to site another church nearby just because the existing ones had already exercised our tolerance to the point of intolerable.
For all the celestial aims of the church, there are terrestrial norms expected of any gathering for any purpose they might be persuaded to pursue. This one like many that have yet to be called to order around the UK has become a congregation of the Terrestrial Church of Cacophony.