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Why Atheists in Kenya want to sue city churches

SCANDALS

Atheists have appealed to Kenyans to expose places of worship that generate noise in violation of pollution laws. Atheists in Kenya Society (AKS) claims they have received numerous complaints of noise pollution in some churches and mosques across the country.

“Under the guise of religious privilege, those conducting worship in churches and mosques wrongly hold the view that whatever they do should not be challenged or questioned even when it is obvious that their actions are a violation and an intrusion on the privacy of others,” says AKS president Harrison Mumia.

Control of noise pollution is supposed to be carried out by county governments in conjunction with National Environment Management Authority (Nema), which prescribe the maximum permissible level of noise decibels from facilities or activities.

The regulations were formulated to ensure the maintenance of a healthy environment for all people in Kenya; tranquility of their surroundings and psychological well being. The guidelines further provide for control of noise and mitigation measures for the reduction of noise.

“These regulations prohibit the production of any loud, unreasonable, unnecessary or unusual noise which annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of others and the environment,” says Nema.

According to the authority, any person who is likely to be involved in activities that emit noise or excessive vibrations beyond the permissible levels must obtain a license or permit. Mumia says most religious places ignore these regulations, thereby subjecting non-worshippers to noise, especially at night when people need to rest after a hard day’s work.

He says his society has taken over the onus of reminding violating churches and mosques that they are bound to observe pollution laws while blaming weak systems at Nema and City Hall.

“Through our lawyer, we have decided to engage the public by showing them that noise pollution is a disturbance and violation of their rights. We are trying to help Kenyans in an area where nobody cares,” states Mumia.

Following pressure from atheists, a church along Kangundo Road recently complied by reducing the level of noise. A section of Saika estate had complained to AKS that the church generated noise on Sunday mornings and Friday night vigils popularly known as keshas.

The atheists’ society on January 15, wrote to the church threatening legal action should it defy pleas to reduce noise.

“We are giving you exactly 14 days within which to reduce the noise pollution. Please note that as a society, we plan to take legal action if the concerns of the complainants are not addressed conclusively,” said Mumia in the letter.

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