TBN Told to be Considerate of Neighbors

Charisma News Service/March 27, 2003

Love your neighbor as yourself. Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) was directed to heed part of the greatest commandment yesterday by Costa Mesa, Calif., officials who told the world's largest Christian television ministry to be more considerate of neighboring residents' complaints, "The Los Angeles Times" reported. In an ongoing spat between a handful of residents and TBN, the city considered the network's request to conduct outdoor tapings on its property. Officials, though, gave TBN a list of two dozen good-faith restrictions intended to appease neighbors.

The city took the action despite a 12-page letter from TBN that argued the network was allowed to tape outdoor shows under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which protects religious organizations from zoning laws that prevent the practice of religion. TBN is on property zoned for administrative, not religious, purposes, the "Times" reported.

Many of the city's restrictions on TBN are in direct response to complaints from neighbors. The commission told the network to limit street parking by visitors arriving in buses and cars, establish a 10 p.m. curfew for churchgoers, provide on-site security to direct traffic and limit nighttime hours of a million-light display.

Neighbors said they don't expect TBN to abide by the rules in the long run. Lars Sivring said he bought his home just as TBN was moving into the neighborhood in 1996, thinking it would be a small Christian operation, not a $160-million business with more than 5,000 stations worldwide.

TBN attorney Colby May told Charisma News Service that the ministry has tried to be a good neighbor, noting that the network has erected walls and planted trees to shield noise away from homes.

"We will continue to move forward in good faith and meet the concerns of our neighbors," he said. "But the idea that Trinity cannot have any outside events at its facility is clearly a restriction of its constitutional rights."

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