A few thousand years ago on Mount Sinai, Moses was given the Ten Commandments, carved in stone, and proclaimed them as laws of God which were to rule supreme over the Israelites. In August of 2001, a monument of the Ten Commandments, also carved in stone, was mounted in the rotunda of the State Judicial Building by Judge Roy Moore. However, people are questioning Roy Moore’s intentions when he used a governmental position and building to impose his particular preference of religion. Alabama citizens cannot help but wonder if our government will be in jeopardy if Moore is elected into office.
Will he impose his personal religious agenda over what is laid out in the Alabama constitution or will he set aside his beliefs and serve as a non-partial governing body? Two years after the installation of the Ten Commandments, Judge Roy Moore was ordered by Federal Court Judge Myron Thompson to remove the monument from the state building declaring that the display was unconstitutional (Dyer). Judge Thompson is not telling Moore that he cannot be a Christian, he is only saying that it is unconstitutional to impose, with the use of law in judicial rulings, Moore’s own preference of religion.
Unfortunately, Moore’s adversaries have focused too much on the monument and not enough on how he is trying to use it. The problem is not the monument itself; the problem is how Judge Moore plans to use the monument to justify his rulings and beliefs. Now one of Moore’s lawyers accurately points out that putting the Ten Commandments on display is not the same as making a law or establishing a religion, but Moore repeatedly presents the monument as the moral basis of law (Wingfield). So Judge Moore’s use of the Ten Commandments display is to establish American law in terms of Christian principles.
Another issue that Judge Roy Moore can not understand is that freedom of religion does not mean freedom to inflict one’s religion on others as a function of any state office or job. According to Rick Garlikov, “What is important is that people’s position in office should not be used to impose their beliefs on others, particularly since that imposition goes against the stated law” (Garlikov). Therefore, a judge cannot ignore the law so that his own ethical views can be enforced. Judge Moore is using the Ten Commandments to represent the authenticity of his Christian interpretation of the law.
By trying to justify his own religious beliefs with the moral foundation of law, Moore is trying to sneak his beliefs through the backdoor because it would be unlawful for him to bring them through the front. According to the Birmingham News, Judge Roy Moore said that he placed the two and a half ton granite monument in the lobby to help restore the moral foundation of law in Alabama (Birmingham News). Moore is quoted saying, “and you can only do that by recognizing the source of those moral laws, which is God.
Nevertheless, the moral foundation given by the founding fathers themselves for the American legal system, in both the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble, is neither the Bible nor the creator of the Bible. Instead, it is the consent of the governed for laws that promote and provide from the common safety, welfare, happiness, and the blessings of liberty (Preamble). The American Constitution is not found in the Bible, although it is a derivative of religious beliefs, the Constitution is not copied from anything in the Bible.
Many laws in different states and cultures are similar to the laws of the Bible; however, this does not mean that God is the basis of our laws. According to J. R. Labbe, “Judges can’t pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they want to enforce and which they want to ignore. In the same sense, Christians cannot pick which commandments work for them and ignore the ones that are just too hard to keep. ” (Labbe). How will Judge Roy Moore’s religious beliefs affect citizens of Alabama? Is Judge Moore going to change laws that might be legal now but that he might not consider ethical?
The power that he would have as a Governor would far out reach the jurisdiction he has in his court room. His views of abortion, lottery, gay marriage, prayer in school and religious monuments in government buildings are on the far right wing of the political spectrum. He has a proven track record of ruling conservatively in cases pertaining to the topics listed above. Moore’s opposition believes that he will begin to push his personal agenda on these items as soon as he gains the governorship. Judge Roy Moore’s advocates for his campaign are the people of Alabama.
Over 66% of Alabamians believe that Judge Moore is in no way violating the law of separation of church and state (Schneider). He is merely displaying the statue of what he believes is the basis of the American government. One of Moore’s biggest defenders, the previous governor of Alabama Fob James, has gone on record saying that he would line the outside of the court house with the National Guard and Alabama State Troopers to prevent the removal of the Commandments (Fob James Weighs). Moore has gained a strong following in his fight for the right to display the Ten Commandments, but will it be enough to win the majority vote?
Every American has their own opinion to form and will make their own decision on the Ten Commandments case. With all the beliefs and different angles that one person can look from, it is hard to determine whether Judge Moore would make a creditable governor. His strong moral compass and admiration for the law make him a formidable candidate for the job. Citizens have to question whether his passion for the Bible will cause him to stray from the written law. He has gained popularity from this debacle, but has truly become a peoples’ choice for a possible governor.