Priest Jams Cell Phones at Mass

MORAIRA, Spain -- A priest fed up with mobile phones ringing during Mass has installed an electronic jammer to keep his flock in tune with God. the Rev. Francisco Llopis, pastor of the Church of the Defenseless, said the beeps, tunes and other digital noise emitted by today's omnipresent cell phones are incompatible with quiet worship.

Llopis' church in the southeast coastal town of Moraira is the first in Spain to install such a device, which transmits low-power radio signals that sever communications between cellular handsets and cellular base-stations. Llopis said that when he flicks the switch, "I ensure that the religious service is celebrated within the parameters of prayer," the national news agency Efe quoted him as saying.

The controversial technology is designed to create quiet zones in places like restaurants, movie theaters and libraries.

Commercial jamming systems are illegal in the United States, Canada and Britain, but some countries such as Australia and Japan allow limited use. Spain has a legal vacuum, says NiceCom, the only Spanish company which markets the technology. It has been doing so for two years, and lawmakers are now discussing the issue, NiceCom spokeswoman Inma Jimenez said.

The Spanish Science and Technology Ministry did not return a call seeking comment.

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