Worshippers rhythmically sign songs to each other. A flurry of hand motions spells out which Bible verses are to be read. The pastor moves his hands dramatically, with impassioned facial expressions to accompany the movements. The only sounds you hear are the occasional cough, maybe knuckle cracking, or the sound of one hand hitting the other in the sign for “Amen.”
A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit over Missouri's new law making it a crime to disturb a worship service.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union are seeking a temporary injunction to block the law that took effect last month.
The law 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. Violators could face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Repeat offenders could get up to five years in prison.
Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law more than two dozen bills covering a variety of topics, including disturbances of worship services, workers' compensation and child care providers.
The governor's office announced the bill signings Tuesday. One measure makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally disrupt or interrupt a worship service with profanity, noise or indecent behavior. Violators could face fines of up to $500 and six months in jail.