The department for the environment conducted recent visits to 147 Christian and Catholic churches around Colombia’s capital in order to assess the levels of noise they are emitting. The investigation followed over 166 complaints received from Bogota residents between 2010 and 2011.
Of those 147 churches surveyed, it was found that 70% of them exceeded legally accepted noise levels.
Those exceeding the permitted levels were responsible for emitting between 65.1 and 75.1 decibels of noise. The maximum levels permitted by Colombian law in residential areas are 65 decibels during the day and 55 at night.
As an example of the high level of noise, one resident of Bogota who lives near the United Pentacostal Church of Colombia, claims that the noise of prayers and musical instruments from the church leave the windows of his house shaking.
According to El Tiempo, who also published a list of a number of the churches in question, the worst affected areas of the city are Suba, Puente Aranda, Usaquen, Teasaquillo, Kennedy and Engativa. The department for the environment’s study also found that 80% of churches in these particular areas are located in family based, residential, areas.
The coordinator for the department of the environment’s noise unit, Luis Eduardo Gaitan, warned that churches must start to control the noise they emit and suggested various preventative measures such as soundproofing church halls.
However, the church has defended itself against the assessment and the results. Luis Eduardo Barbosa, President of La Asociacion Nacional de Ministros de Evangelio (ADME) which represents some 2600 churches nationally, argues that it’s unfair to monitor churches’ noise “without also regulating bars and nightclubs which are the most significant generators of noise.”