HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Every state has a few unusual laws, and the Magnolia State definitely has a few of its own.
According to a Mississippi Code of Law, it is a crime to cause a disturbance in a congregation assembled for religious worship. This code can be found in Crimes Against Public Peace under 97-35-17 Disturbance of Worship; Proceeding and Penalty.
"It allows someone to basically arrest a person that is making a disturbance of the church," said Hattiesburg Attorney Shawn Lowrey. "Some of the case law has to do with using either harsh or abusive language at the pastor while he is giving a sermon."
This law was written into the books under the code of Hutchinson in 1848, and it is still in effect today.
"I have no idea the last time it has actually been used and there is a five hundred dollar fine for it and also up to six months in jail," Lowrey said.
Any person that willfully disturbs the congregation may be immediately arrested by an officer or private person.
"I believe it's anybody. Anybody watching it doesn't have to be a law enforcement officer. It's in the same manor of statutes that allows us to do citizen's arrest," Lowrey said.
This might not come as a surprise to some in the Pine Belt.
Lowrey said, "We do live in the South and people take their church exceptionally seriously."
According to Lowrey, the law is too necessary to be removed from the books. Without it, Lowrey is afraid that people would resort to street-justice in front of churches throughout the state.
"That's never a good idea. So it's probably a good thing that this one stays on the books," Lowrey said.