The New International Encyclopædia/Disturbance of Public Worship

DISTURBANCE OF PUBLIC WORSHIP. A modern statutory offense, which has, in the United States, generally superseded the common-law offense of brawling in church. As generally defined, it consists in any willful interference, by acts or words, with the good order of persons assembled for religious worship, whether within a consecrated place of worship or elsewhere. The offense may be committed by a person present in the place of worship, or by noisy conduct on the outside, and to constitute such acts or conduct a disturbance, it is not necessary that the congregation assembled shall at the time be engaged in worship. It is sufficient if they are assembled for that purpose. The offense constitutes a misdemeanor, punishable by fine or imprisonment. It is not such a violation of private rights as to furnish grounds for an action for damages, unless it be habitual or so persistent as to amount to a nuisance. In that case the remedy by action lies in the hands of the trustees or other officers in whom the possession of the place of worship is vested. See Nuisance.