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Was Alabama Judge Roy Moore wrong for not obeying a federal court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments?

(updated November 4, 2003)

On the morning of August 27, 2003, by order of a U.S. federal court, a monument to the Ten Commandments was forcibly removed from the rotunda of an Alabama state judicial building against the orders of the chief justice of Alabama. This move is likely to affect both Christians and states nationwide.

Chief Justice Moore stated,

The issue is: Can the state acknowledge God? If this state cant acknowledge God, then other states cant And, eventually, the United States of America will not be able to acknowledge the very source of our rights and liberties and the very source of our law.

Afterwards, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family responded that this battle is not about the Ten Commandments.

"It is mostly about the appointed but un-elected and non-accountable, arrogant, imperious judiciary that is determined to shove their wishes down our throats. We need to go to the Congress and we need to absolutely demand that they rein in this court."

"The separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. They've had to contrive the basis for these things—and then they talk about them as though they were a fact. USA Today had a whole write-up on the ‘separation of church and state,’ talking about how the Constitution supports this or that. But it's not in there."

[Are you aware that that secularists are twisting a simple phrase of Thomas Jefferson to mean something the Founding Fathers and the Constitution never intended? Learn more]

A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll indicates that 77% of Americans "disapproved of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's order to remove the monument" (Brian Cabell, David Mattingly and John King, “Ten Commandments monument moved,” CNN, Aug. 28, 2003 - www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/08/27/ten.commandments/; Richard Benedetto, USA Today, Aug. 27, 2003).

Author: Dr. D. James Kennedy

Dr. D. James Kennedy released the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision (Nov. 2003) to reject the appeal of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

“I am deeply disappointed at the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today to reject Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's appeal.

See photos of the monument that is at the center of controversy.

What are the Ten Commandments?

Separation of Church and State - Did the government pass such a law? Answer

The Court today lets stand a ruling that forbids the public acknowledgement of God. In so doing, it has abandoned the bedrock on which this, the most free and prosperous nation in history, has flourished.

The issue in this case, according to the trial judge, Myron Thompson, was ‘Can the state acknowledge God.’ Judge Thompson answered ‘no,’ and today the U.S. Supreme Court has ratified that ruling.

The Court's action is at odds with American history, the American public, and the Court's own time-honored practice. The standard applied against Chief Justice Moore's monument would invalidate America's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, which contains four explicit references to God, none of which are so-called ‘ceremonial deisms.’ The Declaration, which is the organic law of the United States, rests its case for independence 'on the laws of nature and of nature's God;' asserts that all men are 'endowed, by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;' appeals to the ‘Supreme Judge of the world;’ and relies 'on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE.'

Now that the Court has failed to perform its duty to resolve the confusion it has created over Ten Commandments displays and other public acknowledgements of God, it falls to Congress to bring clarity to the matter by asserting its own constitutional authority on this question.

The time has come for Congress to install the Ten Commandments in the U.S. Capitol. It is time for those who pay lip service to the public acknowledgement of God to, like Chief Justice Moore, put their own political future at risk by supporting House. CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION 310, which requires the posting of the Ten Commandments in the Capitol."

When Roy Moore ran for chief justice of Alabama the centerpiece of his campaign was a pledge to restore the moral foundation of law - to display the Ten Commandments. After the voters overwhelmingly elected him to office, he kept his commitment. He installed a granite monument to the moral foundation of law - one that depicts the Ten Commandments and, on its sides, documentary evidence for the acknowledgement of God in American history.

But federal judge Myron Thompson, aided by some state officials, is about to overturn the will of the voters by removing the monument. This is a flagrant violation of their rights! The U.S. Constitution begins,

"We, the people."

But now, the principle that here, the people rule, is dismissed without a murmur from state officials who equate a judge's opinion with the rule of law.

You would think they would know Alabama history better. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in 1963 in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, that…

"A just law is man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. Unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."

That distinction is lost on those members of the Alabama legal establishment who have announced that, as Attorney General Bill Pryor put it,

"My responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, and I will be doing my duty."

But how can he uphold the rule of law when he acts to gut its foundation - the recognition that man's laws must conform "to the laws of nature and of nature's God?" Let's not forget that this country was founded when some very brave state officials gathered together to defy the “rule of law” of King George III. The Founders said his “rule of law” was aimed at “absolute tyranny” over the states. So they acted in a fashion consistent with a long Western legal tradition that dates at least to St. Augustine, who said, "An unjust law is no law at all."

After all, if law is only what men say it is, our freedoms are very much at risk, as the gruesome record of communist rule in Russia, Vietnam, North Korea, and, of course, Cuba, so amply testify. But when, as in America at its founding, the state recognizes a higher law - the "laws of nature and of nature's God" - liberty endures, as our own history powerfully demonstrates.

It is certainly true that the edicts of federal courts - indeed all courts - must be obeyed. But, in the exceptional instance where a court usurps the will of the people and acts in a manner intended to destroy the foundation on which our freedom rests, it is the right, indeed the duty, of elected officials to call that act what it is, tyranny, and to refuse to obey.

Let us also bear in mind that the rule of law, as some term it, has given us federal court decisions that told us a man has the right to own another man (1857), and more recently, that killing unborn children is a constitutional liberty (1973), that state laws against sodomy are constitutional (1986), and, even more recently, that state laws against sodomy are unconstitutional (2003). This is the rule of law? This underscores why we as a nation must return to the recognition of Almighty God and His law. The almighty court and its law are leading our nation rapidly to ruin.

The core question to be resolved in this case is, as Judge Myron Thompson put it, "Can the state acknowledge God?" He answered, “no,” as did the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now, the people of Alabama, particularly its elected officials, must decide whether, more than 225 years after this nation was founded, they will cravenly submit as the foundation of freedom is taken from them-and from all of us in this nation.

For the last forty years or so, federal courts have eroded and almost eliminated the right to acknowledge God. They have progressively removed the principle that is at the foundation of our freedom. We may be at a final watershed. If we, as a nation, fully and finally dismiss God from public life-watch out. When we remove the source of our liberties, our freedoms cannot but soon follow.

Author: D. James Kennedy, President of Coral Ridge Ministries.

Copyright © 2003, Coral Ridge Ministries, All Rights Reserved—except as noted on attached “Usage and Copyright” page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schools.

For further reading

  • Does American government need the Ten Commandments anymore? Answer

  • Separation of Church and State - When did the government pass this law and where can it be found? Answer

  • Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer

  • Is the new morality acceptable in Christian conduct today? Answer

  • Where should Christians draw the line in trying to make the U.S. a Christian nation? Answer

  • What role should the Bible and Christianity play in America? Answer

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