A south London church has been fined several thousand pounds for annoying neighbours with noisey 3am services aimed at banishing 'demons'.
Magistrates ordered the leaders of Camberwell’s Kingdom Church, a branch of the Bishop Climate Ministries, to pay £7,740.50 after Southwark Council received a string of complaints about “loud preaching” and “amplified music” every Saturday morning.
The council also said nearby residents were having to put up with persistent and excessive noise levels on an almost daily basis from the church’s regular services, the Southwark News reported.
The church's 3am service claims to offer “deliverance” from sickness, financial hardship and “demonic soul ties”, according to its website, and takes place during the early hours as it is “a well-known time that witchcraft and negative elements begin to work”.
“While the witches are busy working their witchcraft you are getting the wisdom of God concerning their demonic operations," the website reads.
According to the church's Facebook page the "spiritual airways are busy, too busy" between midnight and 4am, "It's the time when the witches are meeting. It is time when strange altars are being built, and strange fires are being lit. The time when demonic caterers are busy feeding you in the dream."
The message to worshippers continues, saying that there is an "enemy that comes when we are sleeping".
"The enemy comes to pollute and contaminate the spirit of man; to cause confusion, to waste opportunities, to deposit strange object into people. This enemy has some evil powers, because Jesus Christ says that the enemy came and sowed wild weeds."
The Kingdom Church does not appear to be affiliated with any official branches of Christianity in the UK, but its website says “God has confirmed Bishop Climate with a worldwide ministry through powerful signs and wonders”.
The church was fined at the Camberwell Magistrates Court on February 22 after being found guilty of two charges under the Environmental Protection Act.
Bishop Climate Wiseman told the Southwark News that the Camberwell Station Road church is going to appeal the "big fine" as it had received no complaints since installing a new roof in an effort to reduce noise.
He said: “I do not deny that we made some noise – we did. But we have spent nearly ten thousand pounds reducing the noise. And I was out of the country so could not go to court.
“We are based is an industrial area. But there are new flats and they complain. The flats were meant to be offices but they became houses. People could hear it, especially in summer when they open their windows.”
Southwark council cabinet member for communities and safety, councillor Michael Situ, said the council had hoped to settle the matter outside of court but its attempts to "work with the church leaders were ignored".
Situ told the Evening Standard that the council hoped the penalty would help remind both the church and the wider community that "anti-social behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated and wrongdoers will be made to pay one way or another”.