Franklin OKs amplified expression, no permit needed, after public worship debate

Franklin lessened restrictions Tuesday on non-permitted, sound-amplified public expressions — including worship services — following months of debate and public scrutiny.

The city board of aldermen voted to allow amplification for public expression events between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. without a permit.  The gatherings must still remain under 20 people to assemble without a permit.

Jeff Daniels has worshiped for months Saturday nights on the public square in downtown Franklin, at times using equipment to amplify music. Multiple people have joined in the worship.

Mayor Ken Moore said the city received multiple complaints, particularly about the amplified sound. Based on the previous city ordinance, Daniels was breaking the law by using amplification without a permit.

"I can't believe I am standing before you to ask you if it's all right for me to pray and worship in the square,” said Daniels at an early March meeting. "It shocks me. It absolutely shocks me."

Alderman Beverly Burger speaks at the March  28 Franklin board of aldermen meeting.
Alderman Beverly Burger speaks at the March 28 Franklin board of aldermen meeting.

Daniels also believed he was likely to be arrested if he continued his worship services after talks with city police.

However, city leaders insisted for months Daniels was never in danger of being incarcerated for public prayer.

“You were never going to get arrested,” said Alderman Patrick Baggett at a March work session. “I am sorry you felt that way. I am sorry that people in this room may have felt this city was doing that to you.”

Alderman Beverly Burger emphasized at the March 28 meeting that the ordinance does not include “spontaneous demonstration” events, where people might show up on the square to protest.

Alderman Gabrielle Hanson was the first elected official to push for a closer look at the city ordinance.

"I've seen a pattern in a little over a year since I've been elected that's gone down a certain demographic path that's not palatable in this community,” Hanson said. "For me as a Christian, a member of this community and a conservative, it's gravely concerning."

More: ‘Gravely concerning’: Worship in Franklin public square prompts law change talks

More: Mayor Ken Moore: Franklin is not trying to ban prayer from the public square | Opinion

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Franklin OKs amplified expression, no permit needed, after public worship debate