THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
The first "Justice Moore" conflict
2003-AUG-23 to DEC-31
Read about the Chief Justice Moore case:
2003-JUL, during 2003-AUG, .... during 2004 and after
The monument was installed in the rotunda of the State
Judicial Building, in Montgomery, AL on 2001-AUG-1. The building houses the Alabama
Supreme Court. Chief Justice Roy Moore was ordered by the 11th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals to remove the monument because it violates the
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and its principle of separation of
church and state. He refused.
2003-AUG-23: Conservative Christians to file lawsuit: The
Christian Defense Coalition has organized a weeks-long vigil at the
Justice Building. They are planning to file a lawsuit on 2003-AUG-25
against the associate judges of the Alabama Supreme Court who unanimously
ordered the monument removed. The lawsuit will claim that their decision
violates freedom of religion. Conservative churches nationwide are reported to be
sending busloads of their members to Montgomery, AL to take part in the
2003-AUG-24: Capitol Hill Prayer Alert issues "Urgent Prayer Alert:"
The Capitol Hill Prayer Alert web site asks all American Christians to
pray, fast and take action concerning the situation in Alabama. They quote
a number of individuals who support restoring the Ten Commandments
monument in the Rotunda of the Alabama Justice Building:
||Former Chief Justice Roy Moore, suspended from the Alabama Supreme
Court: "Have we become so ignorant of our nation's history that
we have forgotten the reason for the adoption of the Bill of Rights? It
was meant to restrict the federal government's power over the states, not
to restrict the states from doing what the federal government can do. The
time has come to recover the valiant courage of our forefathers, who
understood that faith and freedom are inseparable and that they are worth
||Reverend Flip Benham, Director of Operation Save America:
"The die has been cast, the line has been drawn. Like the prophet Elijah
before him, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama
has aligned himself with God and His Law."
||Christian Defense Coalition: "Chief Justice Roy Moore
has shown great courage in refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from
the Alabama State Supreme Court. It is essential that we support him in
this historic struggle for religious freedom and justice. In light of
this, national Christian leaders are calling for the church to honor God,
obey His Word, resist tyranny and stand with Judge Moore. Please commit to
this powerful move of the Holy Spirit as we come together to repent, pray,
seek God and cry out for the Ten Commandments not to be removed. We also
hope that our Christ-centered response to the Ten Commandments, here in
Montgomery, will ignite a spiritual awakening that will sweep across our
||Alan Keyes, Ambassador and former presidential candidate:
Addressing a crowd near the Justice Building, he said: "We have three branches of government. And I stand here today
in hope that all Americans will stand to call on the President and call on
the Congress to take courageous action finally to put the bridle on these
unruly courts!" 2
2003-AUG-25: Dr. James Dobson advocates demonstration: James
Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and host of their radio program
interrupted their published radio schedule and interviewed suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore and former US Ambassador Alan Keyes. They
recommended that Americans join in a public demonstration to advocate that
the Ten Commandments monument remain in the Alabama Justice building.
According to JesusJournal.com, "Following the interview, Dobson's
announcer endorsed civil disobedience, should it be necessary."
Rev. Rob Schenck spokesperson of the National Clergy Council, which
sponsors the National Ten Commandments Project in Washington, D.C.
said: "Dr. James Dobson is the most respected and most admired Christian
leader in America. This is a very significant endorsement of our efforts to
move thousands of Christians to Montgomery."
Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition said: "Dr. Dobson's
call to Montgomery comes at a crucial time. Right now the only thing
stopping the removal of the Ten Commandments is the presence of God's people
outside the courthouse. We will continue here to Aug. 30, no matter what
happens to the Ten Commandments monument." 3
2003-AUG-26: Richard Land calls Alabama controversy "insurrection:"
Dr. Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
He is "...indignant at attempts by courts to deny our Judeo-Christian heritage and enforce a secular bias on our public spaces
...However, we are a government committed to the rule of law....Do evangelical Christians really want to say that this United States
government is no longer a legitimate government and that we are no longer obligated to obey its courts when we disagree with their
rulings? If so, let us understand it for what it is. It is insurrection."
Land quoted Bill Pryor, the Attorney General of Alabama, who wrote:
"Although I believe the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of our legal
heritage and that they can be displayed constitutionally as they are in the
U.S. Supreme Court building, I will not violate nor assist any person in the
violation of this injunction. As Attorney General, I have a duty to obey all
orders of courts even when I disagree with those orders.…We have a
government of laws, not of men." 4
2003-AUG-27: Lawsuit to retain monument dismissed: A lawsuit was
filed on behalf of a Christian talk show host and a pastor. It argued that
enforced removal of the monument would violate the public's freedom of
religion. A hearing had been scheduled for the afternoon of AUG-27, but was
||Alabama's Attorney General Bill Pryor defended the unanimous decision
of the eight associate justices to move the monument. He argued that the
Mobile, AL court, where the lawsuit was filed, lacks jurisdiction. He also
argued that the complaint lacked merit.
||Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation
of Church and State said that the lawsuit relied on "outlandish
legal arguments to defend the justice's blatant promotion of religion."
2003-AUG-26: Demonstration ask for Pryor's resignation: About 150
demonstrators marched to Attorney General Bill Pryor's office, asking that
he resign because he supported the unanimous decision of the associate
justices of the Alabama Supreme Court. Seven demonstrators were allowed into
the building where they met with Pryor's chief deputy for about 20 minutes.
2003-AUG-27: Albert Mohler recommends legal actions only: Albert
Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, wrote: "We
must support and defend the right of the State of Alabama--or any other
state--to erect a monument featuring the Ten Commandments. Judge Moore is
right in his insistence that his monument is lawful. He should press that
case in every court until all appeals have been exhausted. But he should
also obey lawful orders of the federal courts until that point is reached.
Even if he ultimately loses at the U. S. Supreme Court, we should work
through the democratic process to remove the judges and reassert legal
2003-AUG-27: Monument removed: A crew moved the Ten Commandments
monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building to another
location within the building. "Protest
organizers asked the crowd outside the Judicial Building not to rush the
building or do anything except pray." Patrick Mahoney, director of the
Christian Defense Coalition, a group who wants to retain the
monument, is reported as having accused Pryor of political grandstanding to
improve his nomination to a federal appeals court.
5 "It is not clear exactly where the Commandments
display is, nor is it known if any subsequent location for the controversial
monument will be accessible to the public." 7
Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
called the removal "a tremendous victory for the rule of law and respect
for religious diversity. Perhaps Roy Moore will soon leave the bench and
move into the pulpit, which he seems better suited for." 7
Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, was concerned that
the monument was not removed from the Justice Building. "This whole
controversy can drag on when and if Moore, or some other official, decides
to relocate the monument to another part of the building in hopes of
circumventing the original court ruling." Noting that federal Judge
Myron Thompson ruled that the monument could be placed in a "private"
part of the building, she said: "Moore could have the monument placed in
a slightly less conspicuous location, a hallway, anywhere in the building,
and this dispute could re-ignite with more lawsuits, prayer rallies and
expense for the taxpayers of the state of Alabama. Officials failed to send
a clear and unambiguous statement that the monument will not be permitted on
public property." 7
The building manager, Graham George, addressed the "prayer warriors"
who had gathered at the Justice Building to support the monument. He told
the demonstrators that it was being moved to a secure, windowless room for
now. Its ultimate fate will be determined by Chief Justice Roy Moore -- its
According to AANews, in recent days:
||Gary Bauer, head of the Campaign for Working Families, wrote: "While
there is deep division over Moore's strategy, it is increasingly clear
that the public's patience is wearing thin with our rogue courts....For
decades now, unelected judges have gone unchallenged while they ripped out
every vestige of faith from the public square and tore down every symbol
of our most deeply held beliefs. Whether it's prayer
in the public schools, banning the Ten Commandments and
Pledge of Allegiance, or inventing 'rights' to
partial-birth abortion and
homosexual sodomy, unelected judges have shown
incredible disdain for public opinion, majority rule and the laws written
by our elected representatives. Our representative democracy is in danger
of becoming a robed oligarchy."
||Larry Darby, Alabama State Director for American Atheists,
commented about the relocation of the unconstitutional Commandments
monument. He said: "It's about time. Justice Moore has made a mockery
of the judicial system. He has disgraced the bench and the bar and has
embarrassed the state of Alabama worldwide. I'm only disappointed
that it will not be out of the building and off of taxpayer property."
2003-AUG-28: President Bush's thoughts -- expressed indirectly:
According to the Associated Press, the president's Deputy Press
Secretary, Claire Buchan, said that it is important that laws and
court rulings be respected. She also noted that some courts had ruled it's
OK to erect displays of the Ten Commandments, while others have forbidden
2003-SEP-4: New lawsuit and other developments: Three citizens of
Alabama initiated a lawsuit to have the granite monument retained in the rotunda
of the state Justice Building. They claimed that relocation of the monument
unconstitutionally established the religion of non-theistic beliefs. Attorney
General Bill Prior filed a motion asking that the lawsuit be dismissed. Judge
Myron Thompson found that the relocation of the monument was constitutional. He
dismissed the lawsuit. Jim Zeigler of Mobile, AL, attorney for the plaintiffs,
said that they had not decided whether to appeal the ruling.
On NBC's Today Show, Moore said: "This is not about politics, it's not
about religion and it's not about me. It's about whether or not this country can
Governor Ronnie Musgrove of Mississippi asked to transport the monument to
the Mississippi State Capitol building as a temporary display. Former Chief Justice Roy
Moore rejected the request. Moore also
turned down the request of commissioners in Gaston County, to display it in the
county courthouse in Gastonia, NC. 9,10
2003-SEP-8: Justice Moore opposed to constitutional display: Judge Roy
Moore is reported as disapproving a proposal to erect a cultural display
involving the Ten Commandments surrounded by other historical and secular
documents that form the foundation of American law. Such displays have been
declared constitutional in the past. He said: "To put things around the Ten
Commandments and secularize it is to deny the greatness of God." Moore is
reported as saying that his lawyers are planning to petition the U.S. Supreme
Court shortly to restore the monument to the rotunda of the Justice Building. He
expects that the hearing into his suspension will be scheduled for 2003-OCT.
He is quoted as believing that the monument controversy is part of God's plan.
He said: "When they put that monument in that closet and turned that key,
[God] opened the hearts of the world." He also said that: "It's my
responsibility to display the moral foundation of our nation. We're not a nation
founded by Hindu [sic] or Buddha or Mohammed." 11
2003-SEP-9: Clergy organizing: Ninety-five clergy from 72 churches in
the greater Montgomery, AL, area have joined with other clergy from the state to
organize a movement called "The Spirit of Montgomery." They will organize
events related to the restoration of the Ten Commandments monument. 12
2003-SEP-26: Trial date set: Justice Moore's trial on ethics charges
has been scheduled for NOV-12. He had asked that the trial be delayed
until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on his planned appeal, which he expects to
file on SEP-29. 13
2003-SEP-29: Objectors fined; Moore files appeal: Four people who were
arrested on AUG-20 because they refused to leave the Justice Building were found
guilty of trespassing. Eight more entered guilty pleas. Each was fined $25 plus
$191 in court costs.
Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore filed an 31 page brief with the U.S.
Supreme Court. The brief asked that they overturn the decision of the
11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that his monument could not
constitutionally be placed in the rotunda of the State Justice Building. He
criticized the supreme Court for failing "...to
provide a uniform rule of law" concerning the separation of church
and state in matters involving the display of religious items in government
buildings. The brief states that "The lower federal
courts are floundering in a sea of precedents with no legal rudder." 14
2003-SEP: AL: State Senate passes bill: The Alabama Senate
has approved a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would
permit the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings. The
vote was 25-0, even though the amendment would be clearly unconstitutional
because it violates the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The House
will now consider the legislation.
2003-OCT-5: DC: Monument replica completes five-state tour: A
replica of suspended Chief Justice Moore's Ten Commandments monument
completed a five-state tour as part of the "Save the commandments"
caravan. It began in Montgomery AL and ended in Washington DC. Little
interest was shown in the caravan in Montgomery, as only about 200 supporters greeted
it -- even though the demonstration was on Sunday. Fundamentalist pastor
and leader of the National Clergy Council, Rev. Rob Schenck,
said: "This five-state tour is part of the national cry for this court,
the Supreme Court of the United States, and the United States Congress,
to resolve that we are indeed one nation under God, and we wish to
remain so as an American people." Participant John Grater from New York
said: "Congress every day opens with prayer. These are just good
moral values. If you don't want to proclaim that you're a Christian,
that's all right. [The Ten Commandments] are fundamental things that
keep our country strong." Three clergy from the Caravan were
arrested outside of St. Matthew's Church. They refused to conform
to warnings by police officers to remain behind preset barriers. About
75 members of the group American Atheists held a counter-protest
near the Capitol. They suggested that the Ten Commandments, and similar
religious symbols, should be displayed in some of the country's 350,000
churches, synagogues and mosques, rather than in government buildings.
Supporter Shari Bombick said the Constitution guarantees not only
freedom of religion but also freedom from government-supported religious
2003-OCT-31: U.S. Supreme Court rejects
appeal: The Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Chief Justice Roy
Moore’s appeal to keep a 5,300-pound granite monument of the Ten
Commandments at the Alabama Judicial Building. They gave no
reason for the rejection. Chief Justice Moore is reported as saying: "We
have not yet begun to fight. The war is not over. It's just a temporary
setback, is all. God's got another direction to go....In every county and
every city and every borough in every state, there's talk about
acknowledging God now....People are becoming aware of this
foolishness of the judicial branch thinking they can write laws as they go,
on a case-by-case basis...We need to teach people -- ministers, politicians,
judges, lawyers -- what the law's about, what it's founded on. We need to
turn our nation back to God."
2003-NOV-13: Chief Justice Moore removed
from office: The Alabama Court of the Judiciary voted to remove
Chief Justice Ray Moore from office because of his prior refusal to follow a
federal judge's order to remove the Ten Commandments monument.
2003-DEC-15: Alabama Supreme Court refuses
to hear Moore's appeal: Roy Moore had appealed his ouster as chief
justice to the Alabama Supreme Court -- the court that he once led.
CNN.com reported that Moore had indicated in court papers that he would accept
the decision of all of his former colleagues except for acting Chief Justice
Gorman Houston. Moore is reported as saying that Houston had made comments
that indicated he might not be able to rule impartially.
CNN.com reported that the eight associate
justices of the Supreme Court have refused to hear his appeal, because of
their earlier involvement in the case. They prepared
a list of qualified judges and attorney who are qualified to hear Moore's
appeal. Included were all of the state's retired circuit, district
and appeals court judges. They randomly drew seven names from this list which will be submitted to
Governor Bob Riley. A miniimum of six members of the court are required to hear a
case. Seven were chosen to avoid the possibility of a tie vote. Riley is expected to make the final appointment of a
replacement court to hear the case. 17,18
Related essays on this site
Bryan Keogh, "Activists to file suit in protest of removal of Ten
Commandments monument," Chicago Tribune, 2003-AUG-24, at:
"CALL TO CHRISTIAN RESISTANCE IV. Judge Moore Aligned with God & His
Law," Capital Hill Prayer Alert, 2003-AUG-24, at:
"Dr. James Dobson Endorses Civil Disobedience Over 10 Commandments,"
JesusJournal.com, 2003-AUG-25, at:
http://www.jesusjournal.com/ [Note that the title is in error. Dr. Dobson
did not endorse civil disobedience; the announcer did.]
Richard Land, "This is Insurrection. Do evangelical Christians really
want to say that this United States government is no longer a legitimate
government?," Beliefnet.com, 2003-AUG-26, at:
Kyle Wingfield, "Workers Remove Ten Commandments Monument," Excite
News, 2003-AUG-27, at:
- "Faith and Culture: Al Mohler on Justice
Moore," DickStaub.com, 2003-AUG-27, at:
"Alabama Commandments monument
down -- but is it gone? Will Moore, Supporters Try 'End Run' Around Court
Ruling?" AANews, 2003-AUG-27.
"Through spokeswoman, Bush makes cautious comment on Ten Commandments
furor." Associated Press, at:
"Ten Commandments Controversy Continues," WAFF.com, 2003-SEP-4, at:
"Judge Dismisses Suit Seeking Return of Commandments," WAFF.com,
Vivi Abrams, "Moore opposes commandments plan. Says proposed display
would 'deny the greatness of God'," Birmingham News, 2003-SEP-9, at:
"Unprecedented Number of Pastors Organize for Continued Ten
Commandments Battle," U.S. Newswire, 2003-SEP-9, at:
"Alabama justice gets Nov. 12 trial date in Ten
Commandments case," Associated Press, 2003-SEP-25, at:
- "Moore files Ten Commandments appeal with
Supreme Court," GoMemphis.com, 2003-SEP-29, at:
- AANews, 2003-SEP-30.
Stuart Shepard, "Bush Speaks About Faith," Citizenlink, Focus on
the Family, 2003-NOV-3.
"All 8 Alabama justices to step down from Ten Commandments appeal,"
CNN.com, 2003-DEC-15, at:
"Retired judges named to hear appeal of Ten Commandments justice," CNN.com, 2003-DEC-16, at:
Jessica Rosgaard, "Ten Commandments supporters rally on Capitol lawn.
Replica of Alabama chief justice's monument ends 5-state tour," CNN.com,
Copyright © 2002 to 2004 incl., by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-AUG-23
Latest update: 2004-AUG-08
Author: B.A. Robinson