After being removed from his post as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to remove a six-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments, Roy Moore has taken his fight across the country. He says not only are monuments of the Ten Commandments constitutional, but some acknowledgment of God is necessary for the survival of the constitution. CT online assistant editor Rob Moll spoke with Moore the day after the Supreme Court heard arguments over two Ten Commandment cases, in Texas and Kentucky.
You had representatives attending the oral arguments on Wednesday. Do you have any initial thoughts about the case?
Both of the defendants in these cases, defending the Ten Commandments, are doing so with secular humanism, with our own history, arguing that the Ten Commandments are not relevant today. It's in a museum setting. It's the smallest of the monuments. They make every effort to distance themselves from God, and that is the danger that people do not realize. I hope people will wake up to this.
What we've got to watch here is not what they do, but what they say. If they leave the Ten Commandments or if they take the Ten Commandments and they base their ruling on secular humanism, that is a devastating precedent. It's basically saying you can do something as long as you don't profess it, as long as you don't believe it. That is the danger.
The Court refused my case because we said the monument acknowledges the sovereign God, which is permissible under the First Amendment. They then take these two cases that are argued on the basis of a denial of God's sovereignty, that it's a matter of history. The people that are arguing that position think they're doing right, but I would submit to you that it's a very wrong thing to do because you're bowing down to government.
That is the argument in other cases, that as long as the Ten Commandments or "under God" doesn't mean anything religious, then it's permissible.
One of the most offensive arguments that I've found was in one of the briefs said that any reasonable observer would recognize that this monument is in the town where Madalyn Murray O'Hair lived. During all that controversy, it was a hotbed of litigation, and it was never contested. That argument says that because the prime atheist in our country didn't protest, it should be okay. And that's terrible.
Because so many Christians make historical arguments for the Ten Commandments or other monuments, it may seem strange to hear you say that the government must acknowledge God. What is the legal basis for your argument?
It's the very purpose of the First Amendment. It's what we have the First Amendment for. That is still the right we have, to acknowledge God. It protected us from federal government interference. And that's exactly what's happening. The federal courts are saying we cannot acknowledge God. But they have no jurisdiction. It's the fundamental organic law of our country. God. God's law was the basis which entitles us to have a Constitution and a country.
The court is not even interpreting the First Amendment properly, despite the fact that they have no jurisdiction. When they do have jurisdiction they rule by their feelings, not by law. To properly interpret a law you have to interpret the words in the statute or constitutional amendment. That is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," being the first part of the First Amendment. The courts are not even trying to do that. They're ignoring the words of the statute and ruling by their own feelings and predilections with meaningless tests that have no relationship to lawthe coercion test, the endorsement test, and the historical analysis test.
To make that clear, I use an example. Say you were stopped for speeding and given a ticket and go to court in a municipality, and the judge said, "I'm going to have to put you in jail for six months and fine you $5,000." You say, "Why?" "You were speeding." You say, "Judge, I was going 50 miles per hour, the speed limit was 55."
He would stop you and say, "Wait a minute, we can't address the definition of speeding or what speeding is. From the reasonable observer standing on the corner, they said you were going faster than the other cars. It would be endorsing speeding if we allowed this to occur."
You would say, "Judge, I was going 50 and the speed limit is 55."
He says, "No we can't define the speed limit. And furthermore you coerced other drivers to pull over because they weren't going as fast as you."
You say, "That's not speeding. We've got to look at what the speed limit was."
Finally, if he said, "Well because you were going 50 and we've historically allowed people to go 50, we're going to overlook it."
We'll that's allowing you to do something you have every right to do. The speed limit was 55; you were going 50.
So you see what they're doing is ruling by paths that have no relationship when they don't define the words. That's the clearest example I can use to tell you what's happening with the Supreme Court. If you read their opinions, they sound so eloquent, so lofty, but they're meaningless. They're not related to law. The word religion was defined by the United States Supreme Court and by others as the duties which we owe to the Creator and the manner of discharging it, i.e. it recognized God and it recognized higher laws.
The Supreme Court doesn't want to recognize the definition. So as they did in my case in Alabama, they ignore it and say it's impossible to define. Their basic mistake is to assume that government gives you freedom of conscience, when our Supreme Court in 1931 recognized that freedom came from obedience to the will of God. They just lost those concepts.
As you said, those arguing to keep the Ten Commandments are not arguing that government should acknowledge God. You are the only one making that claim. What chance is there that the Supreme Court would recognize that right?
All I can say is it's our responsibility to offer the truth. It's plain, simple fact that the law is the law. It hasn't changed. The acknowledgement of God is basic to our society, to our law, and to our morality. Christianity is in a prime position to wake them up. I can't do it alone, and Christians need to be awakened to what's going on in our country. If we continue to let this happen, what will happen is a complete departure from our constitutional form of government. The basis of our morality is being destroyed. We have no morality without an acknowledgment of God.
Would you prefer the Supreme Court reject the Ten Commandments rather than allow them for only historical reasons?
I think the First Amendment of the United States Constitution doesn't prohibit displays acknowledging God, any acknowledgment of God, whether by state or federal official. My preference would be the United States Supreme Court dismiss the case and say they don't have jurisdiction. The First Amendment tells us to keep out of it. But if you ask how they could rule, I'd say, if they're going to leave the Commandments, they better recognize that nothing prohibits such conduct. But they don't have jurisdiction to rule.
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Roy Moore's Foundation for Moral Law has more information about Moore and his efforts for the state to acknowledge God.
Earlier coverage of the Supreme Court hearings of the Ten Commandments cases include:
Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Government Displays of Ten Commandments | Arguments inside and prayers outside courtroom aim to define government's relationship to religion. (March 03, 2005)
Uproar Predicted If Justices Remove Public Ten Commandments Displays | Conservatives warn about "bulldozing" monuments, a backlash against "judicial activism," and an "ugly" confirmation process for future justices. (March 03, 2005)
Previous Christianity Today coverage of Roy Moore includes:
Ten Commandments Judge Praised and Panned | Roy Moore fulfills a campaign promise with a 5,280-pound granite monument. (Nov. 29, 2001)
Ten-Commandments Judge Aims for High Post | After taking on the ACLU, Moore is now a nominee for the Alabama Supreme Court. (Aug. 1, 2000)
Ten Commandments Judge Cleared | Roy Moore's integrity confirmed regarding legal fund. (Oct. 25, 1999)
Other Christianity Today coverage of the Ten Commandments debate includes:
The Tourist Attraction That Isn't There | Alabama's Ten Commandments monument still drawing visitors despite its absence from the state Supreme Court building. (Jan. 12, 2004)
God Reigns-Even in Alabama | Let's not make the Commandments into a graven image. (Oct. 2003)
How to Really Keep the Commandments in Alabamaand Elsewhere | Since when did the public display of the Ten Commandments become the eleventh commandment? (Sept. 03, 2003)
Decalogue Debacle | What we can learn from a monument now locked in an Alabama closet. (April 12, 2004)
The Ten Commandments, How Deep Our Debt | The words of the Decalogue run like a river through not only the church but also English and American history. (Aug. 22, 2003)
Why Rules Rule | Debates on the Ten Commandments expose our culture's ultimate rift. (Sept. 6, 2001)
Ten Commandments Case Turned Down | Denial means Indiana town's Decalogue display is unconstitutional. (June 13, 2001)
Hang Ten? | Thou shalt avoid Ten Commandments tokenism. (March 6, 2000)