What's at stake
Restrictions against church public worship activities such as the ringing of church bells
Government regulations that discriminate against the free exercise of religion
For many years, the bells at Christ the King Liturgical Charismatic Church in Phoenix had rung every hour, on the hour, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The ringing was not loud; indeed, on the property of the Church's nearest neighbors, it was about the same volume as a normal conversation. So Bishop Rick Painter was shocked when the City of Phoenix criminally convicted him and sentenced him to jail for allegedly violating a city noise ordinance. The ordinance contained an exemption for ice cream trucks playing their music over loudspeakers at louder decibel levels than the church bells. But no such exemption was available for public worship activities like church bells. Shortly after Bishop Painter was criminally convicted, other area churches found themselves under threat of prosecution for ringing their bells as well.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Church to challenge the ordinance and also defended Bishop Painter in state criminal court. The federal court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional when enforced against sounds generated in the course of religious expression. After the federal court's ruling, the state court overturned the conviction of Bishop Painter.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom and its allied attorneys represented Bishop Painter, and other churches in the defense of their constitutional rights.
May 4th, 2010Criminal conviction against Phoenix pastor sentenced for ringing church bells overturned
April 20th, 2010Let freedom ring! Court rules city of Phoenix can’t stop church bells
March 4th, 2010Court: Let the bells ring while Phoenix churches’ suit proceeds
September 2nd, 2009Churches sue city of Phoenix over ordinance prohibiting ringing of church bells
June 3rd, 2009Phoenix bishop sentenced to jail for ringing church bells