Religious set ‘too noisy’

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Residents of a housing estate are complaining because a white-robed religious sect are making too much noise by praying and chanting in woodland behind their homes.

They claim Learnard Radzokota and his Christian group the Friday Apostles – an 82-year-old Christian sect who believe in the power of prayer – regularly go into the trees to pray and chant at 5.30am.

Residents of the New Lodge estate in Barnsley have written to Learnard’s landlord – Yorkshire Housing – to complain about the noise they claim the group makes.

Learnard, 54, who lives on the estate and is known as Father Isaiah, said the group prays outside because it does not have a building to worship in.

He said: “As we do no not have a permanent place to worship in Barnsley, we sometimes carry out our early morning prayers in the wilderness. In Africa, all our church members carry out their services in the open space, commonly called wilderness, because by praying in the wilderness we are close to nature and God.

“We come here to pray because there is a spirit of suicide affecting families and children and there is no peace among the people.”

Celia Casham, of Yorkshire Housing, said the organisation firmly supported the right of people to worship in the way they choose.

She said: “However, it was brought to our attention that religious meetings hosted by Mr Radzokota, at his home, had been causing a level of noise which has affected his neighbours at various times of the day.

“We are keen to work with Mr Radzokota and his neighbours to find a compromise which suits both parties. We have been trying to help Mr Radzokota find a more suitable venue for his religious meetings.”