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Mo. bill endorsed by state Senate would make it a crime to disturb worship

Missouri State Capitol dome
Missouri State Capitol dome

The Missouri Senate has endorsed legislation making it a crime to disturb a religious worship service.

The bill given initial approval Wednesday would make it a misdemeanor to intentionally disturb or interrupt a "house of worship" with profane language, rude behavior or noise. The crime would be punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, with harsher punishment for repeat offenses.

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer says he sponsored the legislation because there have been isolated incidents around the country of people disturbing worship services. But Mayer, a Republican from Dexter, did not cite any particular examples.

Mayer says the bill is not intended to apply to worshippers who enthusiastically shout "Amen" or "Hallelujah" during services.