Metairie church claims tent services illegally constrained by Jefferson Parish noise ordinance _lowres

Photo provided by Lisa Caracci -- The Vintage Church in Metairie has been conducting services in this tent since this summer as it expands its permanent building.

A judge Tuesday postponed a hearing in the case of a Metairie church that claims local authorities have violated its religious freedom by trying to restrain the congregation’s use of live music and microphones inside a tent serving as a temporary sanctuary.

Judge Cornelius Regan of 24th Judicial Court rescheduled the hearing for Dec. 22.

Vintage Church filed a lawsuit against the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office last week, claiming deputies have effectively barred the church members from worshipping by enforcing an “unconstitutional” sound ordinance.

Neighbors have complained repeatedly about amplified voices and loud music coming from the tent as early as 7 a.m. on Sundays. The Sheriff’s Office responded to the complaints almost every week since early August, taking sound measurements and issuing summonses to the church’s pastor, Matthew Brichetto, when readings exceeded 60 decibels before 10 a.m.

The Sheriff’s Office has imposed a “substantial burden” on the church’s right to worship freely, the lawsuit claims, in part by preventing the use of microphones and requiring the church to obtain a special-events permit to hold services on its own property. It also asserts that 60 decibels is an unreasonably low limit.

The church erected the tent in the parking lot of its Rayne Street property as it expands its auditorium.