« AnteriorContinuar »
tected by the statute, in our opinion the pugnacious parson and pastor would have been more to blame than any one else.
The lessons of Christian charity, forgiveness and self-control, which in his daily calling he was doubtless promulgating as shepherd to that little flock, should have admonished him, even under such trying circumstances of the duty of forbearance and forgiveness, or at all events they should have enabled him to control his temper and refrain from resentment and personal violence within the precincts of the sanctuary. The judgment of the court below is reversed and the cause remanded.
Reversed and remanded.
DISTURBING RELIGIOUS WORSHIP - MUST BE WILLFUL.
Wood v. STATE.
(16 Tex. (App.) 594.]
In the Court of Appeals of Texas, 1884.
The Gist of the Offense of disturbing religious worship is that the disturbance was
"willful." The word "willful," when used in a penal statute, means with evil intent, or legal malice, or without reasonable grounds of believing the act to be lawful. The evi. dence here held insufficient to support a conviction for disturbing religious worship, in. asmuch as it does not show the disturbance to have been willful.
APPEAL from the District Court of Burnet. Tried below before the Hon. W. A. Blackburn.
This was a conviction for the willful disturbance of religious worship. A fine of twenty-five dollars was the penalty imposed.
W. O. Shugart, for the State, testified that he was present at what the people called preaching at a school-house near Corwin, Burnet County, on the third Sunday in March, 1883. Reverend Mr. Hansboro conducted the exercises, and during the sermon propounded a question, which the defendant proposed to answer by asking a question. Mr. Hansboro told him not to interrupt him. The preacher went on to say something about a "mighty rushing wind.” The defendant spoke up:
” “Yes, and there was a sound in that wind, too.” The preacher then said to defendant: “If you want to talk, you go outside.” The defendant interrupted the preacher two or three times with questions, in a voice which could be heard all over the house. The congregation was composed of thirty or forty well behaved people. The witness paid as much or more attention to the defendant than to the preacher.
J. D. Kennedy, for the State, substantially corroborated the first witness as to what transpired on the Sunday in question, and stated in addition that he was present on the evening before, when the same preacher conducted services. He stated at the outset that he invited prompt correction, during services, if he misapplied the Bible ; that he wanted any one to correct him if he stated anything wrong. Defendant asked the preacher a question that night. The preacher replied: “We will talk about that to-morrow. In the meantime you read the tenth chapter of Acts.” Defendant asked the question in a very polite manner. When services closed next day, Sunday, after the occurrences related by Shugart, defendant rose in his place, with Bible in hand, and asked the congregation to remain a few minutes and hear him. Witness saw Mr. Barnhart speak at that time, but did not hear what he said. The little episode seemed to arouse some feeling in the congregation.
J. S. Barnhart testified, for the defence, that he reached preaching on the Sunday in question about ten minutes before the services concluded. Defendant did not interrupt the preacher while witness was there. When the congregation was dismissed the defendant, with his Bible in his hand, called on the congregation to give him attention while he read a few passages from Scriptures, Witness walked down the aisle, met the preacher and said to him: “Let's have no controversy.” He went on to defendant and made the same request. Defendant replied: “This is none of your business; you are bad medicine anyhow; I want nothing to do with you. If you want anything out of me you can get it. Name your time and place, for this is no place for trouble.” Mrs. Kennedy, the defendant's mother-in-law, then took defendant's arm and said: “Shut up your mouth and let's go home.” The preacher, Mr. Hansboro, was a Christian or Campbellite, and was conducting a series of meetings at the time and place. There was feeling existing between witness and the defendant at the time.
I. D. Standifer testified that, some time before the meeting in question, he and defendant (he being a Campbellite and defendant a Baptist) had a theological argument in which defendant said: “If your church can convince me that faith comes before repentance, I have nothing more to say. Your church can then baptise me.” Before the Sunday in question, witness told Mr. Hansboro about this conversation, and requested Mr. Hansboro to preach a special sermon on faith and repentance for the benefit of defendant, as the defendant was an intelligent, conscientious and influential citizen. It was the custom of the Campbellite church to invite questions, etc., during service, and they did not regard the practice as interruption. After the occurrences of Sunday, Mr. Hansboro told witness that he did not answer the question propounded, because defendant insulted him that morning by introduc
ing him to McElroy in this wise: “Brother McElroy, let me introduce you to Brother Hansboro, my old Campbellite friend.” Mr. Hansboro said: “I don't wear the name," and walked off. Witness was not present when the disturbance took place.
T. H. Hager testified, for the defence, that he and defendant sat near together, and near the preacher, at the time of the alleged disturbance. The preacher stood almost in front of witness, and talked right in the defendant's face. The preacher was talking about the “Day of Pentecost, when there came a noise, as of a mighty rushing wind, and filled the house.” He asked some questions, and defendant asked if he might answer them. The preacher replied in a loud, harsh, gruff voice: “If you want to talk go outside.” The preacher went on to say that the Holy Ghost fell on no one but Peter ; that it“just wholloped itself around Peter's tongue and made him say anything it wanted him to say.” The preacher, during the service, spoke of the Bible as the Holy Ghost. The defendant called out: “Yes, like a crank is the lever of a mechanic's machine.” Witness related the subsequent proceedings as the previous witnesses did. The defence witnesses concurred in the statement that the defendant spoke in a respectful manner.
The motion for new trial relied upon the insufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict.
Cook & McSween, for the appellant.
WHITE, Presiding Judge. Appellant was convicted under an indictment charging him with willfully disturbing a congregation assembled for religious worship, “by propounding loud and audible questions to the preacher or elder, while conducting said religious services, and by using angry words and gestures,” etc. As made by the evidence and the able brief of counsel for appellant, the case in some of its features is most interesting and presents for theological or ecclesiastical disputation questions more intricate and perplexing than are the matters of law involved in its determination on this appeal.
A disturbance of religious worship under the statute,1 to be punishable, must have been willfully done. " Willfully” is the statutory word which characterizes the offense. " When used in a penal statute, the word willful' means more than it does in common parlance. It means with evil intent or legal malice, or without reasonable grounds for believing the act to be lawful.”' 2
Taking this as the meaning of the word "willful,” we are of opinion that the evidence in this case does not sustain the conviction. The judgment is reversed and the cause remanded.
Reversed and remanded.
1 Penal Code, art. 180.
2 Thomas v. State, 14 Tex. (App.) 200.
DISTURBING RELIGIOUS WORSHIP - INTENTION.
STATE V. LINKHAW.
[69 N. C. 214.]
In the Supreme Court of North Carolina, 1873.
The Disturbance of a Religious congregation by singing, when the singer does not
intend so to disturb it, but is conscientiously taking part in the religious services, may be a proper subject for the discipline of his church, but it is not indictable.
INDICTMENT for misdemeanor, tried before RUSSELL, J., at Robeson Superior Court, Spring term, 1873.
Defendant was indicted for disturbing a religious congregation. The evidence as detailed by several witnesses was substantially this: Defendant is a member of the Methodist Church; he sings in such a way as to disturb the congregation; at the end of each verse his voice is heard after all the other singers have ceased. One of the witnesses being asked to describe defendant's singing, imitated it by singing a verse in the voice and manner of defendant, which “produced a burst of prolonged and irresistible laughter, convulsing alike the spectators, the bar, the jury and the court.”
It was in evidence that the disturbance occasioned by defendant's singing, was decided and serious; the effect of it was to make one part of the congregation laugh and the other mad; that the irreligious and frivolous enjoyed it as fun, while the serious and devout were indignant. It was also in evidence (without objection) that the congregation had been so much disturbed by it that the preacher had declined to sing the hymn, and shut up the book without singing it; that the presiding elder had refused to preach in the church on account of the disturbanco occasioned by it; and that on one occasion a leading member of the church, appreciating that there was a feeling of solemnity pervading the congregation in consequence of the sermon just delivered, and fearing that it would be turned into ridicule, went to the defendant and asked him not to sing, and that on that occasion he did not sing. It also appeared that on many occasions the church members and authorities expostulated with the defendant about his singing, and the disturbance growing out of it. To all of which he replied: “That he would worship his God, and that as a part of his worship it was his duty to sing Defendant is a strict member of the church, and a man of exemplary deportment.
It was not contended by the State, upon the evidence, that he had any intention or purpose to disturb the congregation; but on the contrary, it was admitteil that he was conscientiously taking part in the religious services.
Defendant prayed the court to instruct the jury, that if the defendant did not intend to disturb the congregation he was not guilty.
This instruction his honor refused, and among other things, told the jury that it would not excuse the defendant to say that he did not intend to disturb the congregation. The question is, did he intend to commit the act which did disturb the congregation? The jury must be satisfied that there was an actual disturbance occasioned by the defendant's act. It is a general principle that every man is presumed to have intended the necessary consequence of his own acts.
There was a verdict of guilty. Judgment, and appeal by the defendant.
W. Mc L. McKay & N. A. McLean, for appellant.
SETTLE, J. The defendant is indicted for disturbing a congregation while engaged in divine worship, and the disturbance is alleged to consist in his singing, which is described to be so peculiar as to excite mirth in one portion of the congregation and indignation in the other.
From the evidence reported by his honor who presided at the trial, it appears that at the end of each verse his voice is heard after all the other singers have ceased, and that the disturbance is decided and serious; that the church members and authorities expostulated with the defendant about his singing and the disturbance growing out of it; to all of which he replied, that he would worship his God, and that as a part of his worship, it was his duty to sing. It was further in evidence that the defendant is a strict member of the church and a man of most exemplary deportment.
“It was not contended by the State, upon the evidence, that he had any intention or purpose to disturb the congregation; but on the contrary, it was admitted that he was conscientiously taking part in the religious services.”
This admission by the State, puts an end to the prosecution. It is true, as said by his honor, that a man is generally presumed to intend consequences of his acts, but here the presumption is rebutted by a fact admitted by the State.
It would seem that the defendant is a proper subject for the discipline of his church, but not for the discipline of the courts. PER CURIAM.
Venire de novo.