Bill before Nixon criminalizes disturbing religious services

May 30, 2012

Among the 115 bills sent to Governor Jay Nixon this year is one that would make it a crime to deliberately disturb worship services in Missouri.

The bill would make it a misdemeanor to use, quote, “profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior,” or make loud disruptive noises within or just outside a public or private building where a worship service is being held.  A third offense would be a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.  It was sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer.

“It’s important for citizens here to have their First Amendment rights protected…there has been instances across the country where there have been actual disturbances,” Mayer said.

Mayer admits he’s not aware of any such disturbances having happened yet in Missouri.  An ACLU official says they may challenge the bill in court if Governor Nixon signs it into law.