A federal judge rejected a request to stop Missouri from enforcing a new state law that makes it a crime to disturb a worship service, but opponents vowed Tuesday to press on with their efforts to overturn it and said they are confident they’ll eventually succeed.
Missouri’s worship law, which took effect in August, makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally disturb or interrupt a “house of worship” with profane language, rude or indecent behavior or noise that breaks the solemnity of the service. First-time offenders face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, and repeat offenders face escalating penalties, culminating in up to four years in prison.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing to overturn the law on behalf of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, another group and two individuals, sought a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court in St. Louis that would bar enforcement of the law pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
Senior Judge E. Richard Webber rejected the request in a 16-page ruling issued last week. He found that the plaintiffs didn’t sufficiently show they were likely to win, and he said the hardship caused by blocking the law would exceed that of allowing it to stand.