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This problem mostly has to do with me and my family against another religious group.

About a month ago a Pentecostal "church" opened about a mile from our house. We live in Uganda, a very Pentecostal country, with the majority of the people here being Pentecostals. The church is very loud. They are over a mile from our house and we can clearly hear every word they say into their loud-speakers. They have consistently had a service every Friday since the church opened, going from 10 AM to 7 PM at night. My father has had enough of it. My family and I were discussing methods of dealing with these loud pentecostals without being persecutive or disruptive. We are bible-believing Christians and do not agree with their religion. They are being incredibly rude and disruptive.

The culture here is a very tolerant culture. They tolerate almost everything instead of fixing or getting rid of the problem. The police are very corrupt and kind of racist, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it without requiring a bribe or some other method of persuasion. Even if the police made them be quieter they would just do it again just as loud or louder next week.

We have contemplated going to the municipal council but I don't think they would be able to do anything about it. We once complained about rock concerts that would go on until 3 AM in the morning and they enacted a curfew, but the problem is, this is a religious group and the people are very tolerant of religion.

How can we peacefully approach this group about decreasing the volume of their services?


Here is some info requested for:

Would you like a slightly quieter service?

Yes. Slightly would be an understatement. It would be nice if we could barely hear or not hear them at all.

Relationship wth this group?

We have never met in real life. Me and my siblings (who all jog weekly) know where the church is and what the name of the prophetess is. No phone numbers or email addresses because I never paid enough attention to the sign.

Size of the group?

Just guesstimating from the size of the tents approximately 70-100 people. (Yes, not an actual building just some fancy tents they set up in a yard)

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    IMHO, this is absolutely an interpersonal question. OP basically says that law will do nothing, municipal leaders will do nothing, so the only option left as I see it is interpersonal skills with religious leaders... – anonymous2 Apr 27 '18 at 12:46
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    I suggest a few modifications. 1."these loud pentecostals" - this line is pejorative, also using the "pentecostal" term excessively. 2. Being rude or not isn't about religion, but about family education and common sense, so you might want to remove that line too. – lukuss Apr 27 '18 at 14:39
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    Are you the same culture/racial group as they are? How integrated are you into the community? How long have you lived here? Where are you from originally? – user6818 Apr 27 '18 at 17:42
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    What do your (local) neighbours, think? – user6818 Apr 27 '18 at 17:46
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    Are there other churches, schools, libraries, mosques, etc. that are close enough to be disrupted by the noise? If so, they may be good allies, in addition to your neighbors. Do you have a pastor you could ask for strategic guidance? (Possible deeper dimension of the question: Would this group have chosen Friday in order to disrupt Islamic Friday prayers?) – cactus_pardner Apr 27 '18 at 18:24
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I have lived in Africa all my life. It is a very diverse continent, so I'm not 100% familiar with the tribes and cultures local to where you live, but I do have a lot of experience living in a very culturally diverse, African community.

There are exceptions, but generally African tribes and racial groups have a social, oral-based culture. Generally, they'll talk to random strangers in their own tribe as if they're friends (so for example, on the bus, the conversation sounds like everyone knows eachother when they are all random strangers). I had a conversation with my cousin (who does psychometric testing) and he has said he has had to adjust his testing because by usual "western" standards, all African race people he tests meet the "outgoing" criteria.

The majority of the time, the entire culture revolves around noise, music, dance, speech and social interaction. Weddings, funerals, church services and other traditional celebrations are generally very noisy affairs. It is incredibly different from the west in this respect (where people remain largely strangers from even their neighbors and respect peace and quiet). As such, you may find (as you probably have) that people in your community simply don't understand how the noise could bother you. To them, it may be completely normal.

I have asked a couple of questions in the comments, because how much they listen to you is going to depend on:

  • How integrated you are into the community (how long you've lived there)
  • If you can speak their local language
  • How well you know your neighbors

In order to deal with this situation, you really need to gain a better understanding of their culture and talk to your (local) neighbours about the noise. You've mentioned that you're white. If you go and talk to the members of the church about this, they're probably not going to understand that the noise is bothersome.

Your best bet is to talk to your neighbors, people that are local and already understand and know the culture. What do they think of the noise? Does it bother them? In order to be listened to, you need to:

  • Have some kind of connection to the local community (neighbours, friends who are part of the culture)
  • Talk to them about the noise and see what they think (does it bother them)
  • Ask them how to approach the situation. They may agree with you and see merit in your concern and have a local recommendation (perhaps a tribal leader they can approach who has some clout in the community).

It is very difficult for anyone outside of your community (unfamiliar with the particular tribe/group of people where you live) to give any kind of advice in this regard. The standard interpersonal responses given here are simply so far removed culturally from your situation that it is very difficult to navigate these issues without local help.

  • Awesome answer. Anybody who tries to answer this question without a good understanding for the culture will not succeed even if he/she is the next Dale Carnegie. – Ulkoma Apr 28 '18 at 13:53
  • Our family has been here for 8 years. We came over in March of 2010. None of us fluently speak the languages in our area (Swahili, Runyankore, Kinyarwanda) But we all know enough to be able to understand people when they talk to us. It appears that other people in our area, After going to the municipal council, made them tone it down because last Friday they were barely audible. I appreciate this answer though, and you pretty much summarized what the culture is like. People living outside Africa will not know how to answer my question. – E. Huckabee May 7 '18 at 12:27
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As far as I understand there is no liable solution including to ask them to adhere to basic neighborhood courtesy or the law as they want their service to be disruptive to the "non-believers".

So one solution will take a lot of time: Group other people disrupted by the noise around you. Collect reasons you feel disrupted and evidence of it. Do not try to "go after them" as a group. If you do that, you will be seen as the group that started the problem and not the one that tried to end an existing problem. Your collected reasons can include disrupted sleep of your children, declining health of the sick and elderly who cannot find peace to rest, potentially even damage to nearby houses done by the recurring high noise levels. Just do not call it "I feel disturbed in general." As you describe it neither they nor your municipal council will be convinced by that.

My hope would be that if you peacefully collect the problems it generates and maybe potential solutions even besides turning down the volume (adhering to a mid-day silence period where children and other people who need it can rest for example or building an actual building with walls and some sound isolation, instead of using tents) you can have much better results in getting the municipal council to understand the problem as one the municipality is actually suffering under and act on it.

Please understand that I am not from a community similar to yours, I just tried my best to understand the problem and the possibilities.

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Although there are some unique specifics in this question, dealing with noisy neighbours (which is essentially what this is) is always best tackled in a peaceful way. The first advice is always to make them aware that you can hear them and that it is disturbing you, as they may not be aware of how much their sound is traveling.

Finding common ground is very much the order of the day here and you note that both your family and the noisy church are Christians, albeit of a differing denominations. This could be your common ground. Christianity contains much teaching that is best not discussed here, but I believe the principle of "love thy neighbour" is fairly innocuous and if you can appeal to them as a "neighbour" you may have some success.

Go and visit the group. Seek out whoever is in charge. Introduce yourself as their neighbour and ask if you can speak privately.

I wanted to let you know that even though we live a mile away from you, we can hear your services quite loudly in our home. We appreciate the work you do here, but we were wondering if you could perhaps lower the volume of your sound system so that it doesn't disturb the neighbourhood?

Avoid using terms like "your church", which only serve to separate you from them. You may not belong to their denomination but you are trying to appeal to them as a neighbour and if possible as a fellow Christian. If you speak about the noise from "your church" they will just see you as someone with a different belief.

If they don't respond well to this it may be because they feel you are challenging their faith. Given that you say the authorities will not be interested, this is your only opportunity and you likely won't get anywhere if you do show opposition to them. So keep your cool, don't get angry. Try and show that this is not your personal attack on them, but that others may be affected to. Perhaps you could say:

I very much respect your church and your freedom to worship. I am only concerned as your neighbour that the noise is disturbing not just my family but others in the neighbourhood, and that may reflect badly on you.

You could even mention the curfew:

You may not know this, but some time ago the municipal council enforced a curfew on a loud event. I hoped that I would be able to resolve this matter neighbour to neighbour.

The important thing is that even if they don't react well, if you remain peaceful throughout, when you leave they may think on what you said and possibly even turn the volume down a bit. Whereas if you become heated and angry they will later only speak about how you became irate.

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    I’m guessing you have never left America? (I don’t mean any rude assumptions I just have a few simple things to explain) The culture here is very passive. Simply confronting them and asking them to tone it down won’t do it. They won’t listen to one white guy asking them politely to tone it down. As a Christian, I strongly disagree with their views. Labeling all of us under one category is probably not a good idea. – E. Huckabee Apr 27 '18 at 13:39
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    @E.Huckabee I'm not in America, so it wasn't a rude assumption but it was a wrong one. This isn't a site for legal advice, nor for religious debate. The only kind of answer you will get is an interpersonal one, and the answers are supposed to be helpful for others in similar situations. I am doing my best to understand your culture and certainly not "labeling" anyone. If you know that a peaceful confrontation won't work can you tell us what sort of approach would work? – Astralbee Apr 27 '18 at 14:13
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    @E.Huckabee Speaking as someone who once lived in East Africa, you lost me when you immediately assumed asking them politely wouldn't do any good. You might be absolutely right, but unless you fear for your safety or expect retaliation, it's an obvious first thing to try, no matter where you are. I'm beginning to suspect you might get further if you examine your own prejudices first. – Chris Sunami Apr 27 '18 at 18:35
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    @ehuckabee whether or not you agree with their views is entirely irrelevant unless you are trying to change their views which is a completely different question. You goal here is to get them to reduce their volume. To do that you will need to talk with them and have a civil discussion, build rapport, get them to like you or at least be cordial/receptive. Any mention of difference of religious views will immediately and permanently remove that possibility. Put your views away and talk to them with respect as humans which you both are – Darren H Apr 28 '18 at 6:50
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I grew up in Pentecostal churches in the Southern United States (since reformed). I'll start by being completely honest - you are in for an uphill battle. Depending on the particular congregation, Pentecostal groups often approach cult-hood. They place a heavy emphasis on a singular individual leader and often assume an us vs. the world mentality - believing they have a truth that others do not possess or only possess in part. An affront to their organization (even reasonable and truthful) is often interpreted as spiritual warfare, he or she who brings said message is considered a messenger of Satan. You cannot take on that type of radicalism head on, these people will be much more determined than you can imagine. They will feel it is their God commanded obligation to stand up to any external oppression.

Maybe you are lucky and this is a sincere group of believers trying to do the right thing and just going about it in unique ways. If this is the case, you absolutely must use the Bible as your tool of reason. There are plenty of scriptures that refer to love being above all things and the necessity of order in the church. It will take some research on your part, and I'll add some references, but if you can show up with a Bible and show them from the very scriptures that they (and I for that matter) hold so dear that there is biblical support behind your asking them to respect their neighbors, maybe you get somewhere.

Otherwise, the good news is that the really radical groups don't tend to last very long. This heavy reliance on a single individual usually means that when the individual disappoints them (and they will), the church rarely recovers from it.

Explain that they are not showing love to their neighbors and thus they are misrepresenting the gospel that they are trying to proclaim. They are not drawing you to Christ, they are driving you away.

  • Mark 12:31; There is no greater commandment than loving your neighbor as yourself (is preventing my sleep love?)
  • Luke 6:27; Do good to your enemies and those that hate you (is making my life miserable doing good to me?)
  • Mat 7:12; Do to others what you would want to do them to you (would you want me to play my loud music next to your bedroom when you are trying to sleep?)
  • Rom 13:10; Love does no wrong to a neighbor -- actually, all of Rom 13
  • Phil 2:3; ...in humility ... Count others more significant than yourself
  • 1 Cor 13; Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Explain that the Bible requires order in the Church -- so that outsiders don't think they are crazy. Say that they are not giving the impression of reasonable people but cause fear and confusion;

  • 1 Cor 14:23; Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?
  • 1 Cor 14:33; For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints
  • 1 Cor 14:40; But all things should be done decently and in order.
  • 1 Pet 5:5; Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
  • Rom 13:1; Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed

By the way, I'm all about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (for those who might be ready to take up stones against me). I simply believe that love, truth, prayer, and living by example (not obnoxious behavior) happen to be the prescribed way of doing so.

Anyway, good luck to you.

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    +1. I was going to write an answer that the only non-legalistic approach would be to get to know them and convince them to do what you want based on their own values. Fortunately, it looks like your personal experience gives the OP a head start over what my generic solution would have been able to do! – Cort Ammon Apr 28 '18 at 17:09
  • Since this church is in Uganda, I don't think a USA based church is going to be a culturally relevant comparison. – user6818 Apr 28 '18 at 17:47
  • Since OP mentioned they and their family are Bible-believing Christians and do not agree with the religion in question I would assume it is not sticking to the bible much (or only where convenient) and the leader won't be impressed by those arguments. – skymningen Apr 30 '18 at 6:57
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Whether or not they are a religious group, they are disturbing the peace. Since you said that police force is corrupt and municipal council won't do anything, the only resort you have is... interpersonal skills.

I would recommend going to the leader of the group (pastor or whatever), and say something along the lines of,

Say, I've noticed that you've got a church started up here. I'm sure it didn't occur to you, but on Fridays it can get quite loud in the neighbourhood. Would you mind turning the volume down a bit, please?

Obviously, if the law will not help you, your only hope is that the leadership will understand your right to peace and quiet. If they don't, I'm afraid your options are pretty limited.

However, there is no harm in trying. And they don't know what they don't know. As the wording I proposed suggested, it is quite possible the leadership has not even thought of how the volume is affecting the neighbourhood. In that case, your going to them could be the catalyst for reform.

N.B.: There are some religion-based pleas that you could theoretically use as well, but I don't feel that that's really on-topic here.

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I wonder what some principal of theirs would say to this:

Hey, I'm .... I've heard your speeches and it seems you have good goals. But the way you show your religion, with these extremely loud megaphones, is very distracting and annoying - I want to get further from you because of that, not closer, where there's even louder. I talked with my neighbors and they all say they can't stand it. I know you want to do good, so maybe there is a way to show it in a more attracting manner? This one now is only repelling, I'm afraid.

Show good will, show that you're open to them (even if you don't care), make them realize their mistake (the opposite effect to intended), but don't promise anything back. They will likely ask you to come to their ceremony, to which you can reply: "If I will see that your members are stand up citizens, doing more good than other groups, I will definitely consider coming."

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How to peacefuly deal with a loud religious group

Information gathering. You need to establish who is in control and why they believe making so much noise is a good thing. 10 am to 7 pm is a long time.

This particular group might be more of a cult, than a simple group. Unfortunately cults tend to view outsiders in a bad way, and interaction is seen in only two lights, friends or enemies.

Making a lot of noise during the day, in most cultures is not something that can be objected to, which is probably why they choose a friday to do this.

Such groups are also a passing thing, because the intensity can only be carried on for so long.

Once you know the type of group they are, how they react to outsiders and why they are behaving as they do, you can approach the right person about reducing the social impact of noise and increasing the caring support of the community. There is little point preaching to those who cannot hear, it is just annoying, which is counter productive to their aims.

Certain geographical features carry noise further than it should while others dampen down the noise. The people may not be aware of this and be over compensating for things closer to their location. Without investigating you do not know where the problem actually lies.

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If you can hear them from a mile away, besides being loud, I guess you are located in a pretty much open environment.

As you state that the culture is very tolerant, you don't want to put a religious fight tone on it.

So my solution is to go in the tolerant direction: they are loud and this can bother you and others because of the loudness, not because of the religion. A solution could be to plant some trees around the church, so that the sound waves would not diffuse far away.

You could suggest it to the pastor, making clear that you don't want to obstacle their rites, but only ensure that there is less nuisance for the neighborhood. Maybe you can even gift or help them plant the trees to prove your good will.

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    Hi! Answers here need to be more than just a suggestion and must provide an interpersonal skills solution. They should also suggest why it is a good idea and why will they work. Thank you. – A J Apr 28 '18 at 9:11
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    A solution could be to plant some trees around the church ?! Why not, but if you can tell us how you do that : 1. it costs a huge amount of money to buy already grown trees + who says you'll be allowed to plant them + wait for decades to have small trees to grow up maybe? without solid arguments, it seems like an impossible thing to achieve... – OldPadawan Apr 28 '18 at 9:25

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