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Judge Holds Christianity is Part of Common Law

March 19, 1923
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The exhibition of a picture painted by a Christian, in which Bryan and Volstead were depicted as protesting against Christ turning the water into wine was held as unlawful and outrageous of public decency by Magistrate Moses R. Ryttenberg.

In rendering his decision, Ryttenberg held that “Christianity is regarded as part of the common law of the land.” “It is well setled” he said “that public profane swearing as well as blasphemy, is an indictable offense at common law, because among other reasons, of its tendency to undermine the foundations of Christianity which is regarded as part of the common law of our land.” After reviewing several authorities the Magistrate continued:

“In view of the fact that Christian religion is regarded as part of the common law of the land and that millions of the inhabitants are sincere and devout in their belief in this faith, can it truthfully be said that the painting in question, depiciting as it does the Christian Saviour in the manner pointed out, does not seriously offend the religious beliefs and sensibilities of the adherents of that faith, and that such offence, with its tendency to undermine and weaken religious and moral restraints, does not constitute such an outrage of public decency as brings the act of exhibiting the picture within the provisions of the Penal Law?”.

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