A federal lawsuit is seeking to block a new Missouri law making it a crime to disturb a worship service.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday by attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union claims the law is illegally vague and will infringe on free-speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Missouri constitutions.
The measure would make it a misdemeanor to use, “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. It was sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter).
“It’s important for citizens here in Missouri to have their First Amendment rights protected," Mayer said. "There (have) been instances across the country where there have been actual disturbances in churches and synagogues.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing an eastern Missouri county in an effort to halt prayers at county commission meetings.
The Washington Missourian reports that the suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis by the ACLU on behalf of an anonymous resident of Franklin County. It alleges that the commission begins meetings with a prayer in violation of the U.S. and Missouri constitutions.