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Editorial: A man of conscience speaks out

July 1, 1993

A person of national prominence came to Rockford on Sunday, Sept. 25. He addressed the congregation at Rockford’s First Assembly Church on Spring Creek Road. Approximately 1,000 people heard his message.

Roy Moore is not a sports hero, a movie or TV star, a musician, or anyone seeking notoriety. Yet he gained his place in the national spotlight not because of something he did, but because of something he refused to do.

Moore was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He had established an honorable record over the years and gained a reputation as a justice of impeccable character.

But in 2003, a federal judge ordered him to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state Supreme Court building. As a man of faith and conscience, Justice Moore refused. The panel appointed to judge him said Moore had put himself above the law by “willfully and publicly” flouting the order to remove the 2.6-ton monument from the building earlier that year. U.S. district judges ruled the granite carving was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Moore stood on his principles, refusing to budge, but was overruled by his eight colleagues on the Alabama Supreme Court. Therefore, on Nov. 13, 2003, the ethics panel removed him from office.

Moore seems an unlikely candidate as a rebel against the law he was sworn to uphold. A graduate of West Point, after his military service, Moore completed his Juris Doctorate degree in 1977 from the University of Alabama. During his career, Judge Moore was a deputy district attorney, then went into private law practice. He became a circuit judge in 1992 until his election as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in November 2000.

Chief Justice Moore received many national citizenship, statesmanship and congressional honors during his career. He has been referred to as “serving his country and community with uncommon distinction” and a “tireless defender of individual freedom and liberties.” He has appeared on the Today Show, 20/20, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News, Focus on the Family, C-SPAN and others. Articles about Judge Moore have appeared in USA Today, The New York Times and other major metropolitan newspapers. He has authored numerous articles, including “Religion in the Public Square” (Law Review, 1998-1999) and “Putting God Back in the Public Square" (Imprimus, Hillsdale College, 1999). He is also the author of a book, So Help Me God.

The basis of the complaint was that Moore violated a supposed constitutional requirement about separation of church and state. But, as Dr. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe explained in their book, What If America Were a Christian Nation Again? (2003), the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This means no national church should be established, and there is none. Kennedy and Newcombe note that Thomas Jefferson is often misquoted as originating this concept of separating church and state. He has been referred to as a Deist, a skeptic, someone who wanted to keep religion out of government. But Jefferson, as the author of the Declaration of Independence, made reference to “the Creator,” and at the time the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment were being written, Jefferson was actually out of the country—in France.

In his speech at First Assembly of God Church, Justice Moore stated the battle he fought in Alabama was not over a monument or even merely over the Ten Commandments. He said, “The battle was (and is) about the recognition of a sovereign God. The issue is: Can the state acknowledge God?

“And the agenda in our day is—God should be removed from public life.”

Justice Moore noted from numerous historical events and statements that the Constitution of the United States presumes God’s existence and proclamation.

“God gives rights,” he said. “Government protects those rights. And if government does not protect rights, it should be replaced.”

Justice Roy Moore maintains government must acknowledge the God upon whom America’s moral principles were founded and that it is constitutional and ethical to do so. During the last 50 years, he says, federal judges have misconstrued and abused the concept of “separation of church and state,” censoring God from the public square and depleting the moral fiber of our nation.

As a rebel with a cause, Justice Moore stands in good company. Count him with Martin Luther, who, because of his statement of faith that the Church teachings were in conflict with the Gospel, was brought before the pope at the Diet of Worms in 1521. Called to recant, he stood firm. “Here I stand,” he said. “I can do no other. God help me”—and was promptly excommunicated and made an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.

By the way, if the Ten Commandments display in Alabama is unconstitutional, then what about the U.S. Supreme Court building? “Alabama Attorney General Pryor, a long-time defender of Justice Roy Moore… says there are more than 20 artistic depictions of Moses or the Ten Commandments throughout the Supreme Court building.” (Thank you again, Dr. Kennedy.)

We need more people like Justice Roy Moore to stand up for what they believe—even at the cost of personal consequences.

From the Oct. 5-11, 2005, issue

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