While most members of the American Civil Liberties Union celebrate the apparent victory over Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore with the removal of his Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the judicial building, other members it seems agree with Moore’s position that the Decalogue is the “basis of the nation’s laws.”
“It is a sad day in our country when the moral foundation of our laws and the
acknowledgment of God has to be hidden from public view to appease a federal judge,” Moore said in a statement after workers from an industrial moving company hauled the
5,280-pound granite cube into a non-public back room of the building where it has been on display since August 1, 2001.
The ACLU, along with the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed suit on behalf of three Alabama lawyers who argued the monument offends them and causes them to feel like “outsiders.”
A federal judge ruled in their favor last year, calling the monument a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson
wrote in his opinion the monument was “nothing less than ‘an obtrusive year-round religious display’” and ordered it removed.
But officials with the Montana chapter of the ACLU view the Ten Commandments differently.
In settling a long-running dispute with Custer County commissioners over a seasonal nativity scene and a year-round Ten Commandments monument posted on the front lawn of the courthouse in Miles, Mont., local ACLU officials agreed in October 2000 to allow the county to continue to display the monument so long as it moved it to the less prominent west lawn and added four other monuments of “historic documents that influenced the development of modern American law” to fill out an “Evolution of Law” display.
The other markers were supposed to portray the Bill of Rights and “pertinent parts” of the Magna Carta, the 17th Century English Bill of Rights and the 1972 Montana Constitution.
As in the Alabama case, and in a growing number of others in cities, counties and states across the country, the Montana suit alleged the county’s display of the Decalogue constituted a “symbolic union of church and state” and violated the establishment clause.
Lawyers argued the U.S. Supreme Court, in interpreting the clause, has stated that for a government act to be constitutional, the act must have a secular purpose at its core and not have the primary effect of advancing one particular religion.
The Custer County Ten Commandments monument was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1968 as an attempt to educate youth concerning historical codes of conduct.
According to the consent agreement ACLU officials struck with commissioners, the ACLU acknowledged the Ten Commandments monument in Custer County was not solely a symbol of faith.
“The ACLU agrees that the Ten Commandments monument, if placed in context with historical codes and laws that influenced present-day Montana law, need not have the effect of impermissibly advancing religion,” stated the consent agreement.
An ACLU press release released at the time stated: “The additional monuments are
intended to give context to the Ten Commandments as a basis of the nation’s laws and to offset a religious connotation.”
This notion is apparently lost on ACLU officials in Alabama.
“The federal court today vindicated the religious freedom of all Alabama citizens, not just those who share the chief justice’s views that a belief in a Christian God is the only real religion in Alabama,” Rob Weinberg, an ACLU staff attorney with the Alabama chapter declared following Thompson’s ruling last year.
‘Evolution of law’
The Montana chapter’s website offers a link to the proposed “Evolution of Law” display. According to the website, the Ten
Commandments were the “law codes of the early Hebrews,” many of which “set out general legal norms still followed by civilized societies around the world.”
“Over time, the other two major monotheistic religions – Christianity and Islam – would adopt the Ten Commandments into their own holy books, the Bible and the Quran. Thus, the Ten Commandments became an early foundation for the law that would evolve
over the millennia to come,” reads the website.
Last week, Custer County officials opted to relocate the Ten Commandments monument to a local museum rather than spend tax dollars to create the proposed “Evolution of Law” display.
While making no bones of his belief in the god of Judeo-Christian tradition, Moore has all along made the similar point that modern-day Western law is rooted in the word of God, as exemplified in the Ten Commandments.
“Like all judges in the state of Alabama, I’m sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Alabama,” Moore has declared. “Like all judges state and federal, I’m sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Those constitutions are premised on a belief in God. I am bound by my conscience to acknowledge that God upon whom that oath depends. I’m committed to do my duty.”
Monument of Ten Commandments
As if to head off the legal challenge mounted against it, Moore’s monument exhibits more than the Ten Commandments. WorldNetDaily has reported while the top is engraved with the Decalogue as excerpted from the Book of Exodus in the King James Bible, the sides bear quotations from the Declaration of Independence and smaller quotations from James Madison, William Blackstone, James Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John Jay. Also included in the engravings is the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” and quotations excerpted from the 1954 Pledge of Allegiance and the Preamble to the Alabama Constitution.
In essence, the requirement of adding context to the Ten Commandments to “offset a religious connotation” set forth by Montana ACLU officials has been met by Moore.
A call for comment to the national ACLU office was not returned.
Moore wrote a treatise on his battle to retain the monument in the July issue of Whistleblower magazine, WND’s monthly print publication.
In the August issue, entitled “LAW-LESS: Why many Americans fear attorneys and judges more than terrorists,” Roy Moore is the subject of an in-depth profile. Subscribe to Whistleblower magazine.