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August 21, 2003 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Alabama's Chief Justice refuses to remove Ten Commandments. Despite a unanimous decision by the 11th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Chief Justice Roy Moore has refused to remove the four foot high, two and a half ton monument to Christianity, vowing he'll take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the sharks are already beginning to circle.
posted by cohappy (106 comments total)

 
FOX NEWS
------------------
Friday, August 15, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. —

Asshat.

------------------
The Associated Press contributed to this report
posted by scarabic at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2003 [1 favorite]


"Monument to Christianity"? I'm not a regular church-goer but I'm pretty sure the ten commandments are in the old testament.
posted by timeistight at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2003


Are these Ten Commandments really something I have to have a Supreme Court to know about?
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:51 PM on August 21, 2003


I would pay money to see that statue removed with a big hammer.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:51 PM on August 21, 2003


The Federal Supreme court already rejected his plea and the other Alabama Supreme court justices have told him to knock it the fuck off. (Source.)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:54 PM on August 21, 2003


Yeah I saw this on CNN, I'm annoyed they don't have the "graven images" commandment included... those Catholics.
posted by bobo123 at 1:55 PM on August 21, 2003


This case is not worthy of the U.S. Supreme Court, and unless it gets some more right-wing freaks like Wrench-quist they will never, ever hear it.
posted by zekinskia at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2003


Just once, I wish someone would try to impose a non-Christian religion on a public government building in the U.S. to show the God squad why the founders cared so much about keeping the state from sanctioning a religion.

Why is it you can jail a reporter for 168 days for contempt of court but the worst this judge faces is a fine?
posted by rcade at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2003


The pattern in the last bunch of years seems to be:

1) Community with many Christians builds a Christian monument on government property.

2) The legal system says they must remove it.

3) The monument is removed.

4) Repeat.

What is the benefit to build religious monuments on government property that you know the American constitution (as it is currently interpreted) ultimately forbids? Is it just for certain politicians with large Christian constituencies to prove that they put God before the U.S. Constitution?

I am not asking this to troll - I really don't understand.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:03 PM on August 21, 2003


Let me get his straight. As far as these "Christians" are concerned:

Monuments to Christianity? OK
Filthy breasts? Not OK.

I'm confused...
posted by sharksandwich at 2:07 PM on August 21, 2003


This case is not worthy of the U.S. Supreme Court, and unless it gets some more right-wing freaks like Wrench-quist they will never, ever hear it.

Given that ....

In Pennsylvania on Wednesday, a federal appeals court refused to reconsider a ruling that allowed a decades-old Ten Commandments plaque to remain on the facade of a courthouse in suburban Philadelphia.

(from the link)

... we seem to have a split in the districts the S.Ct might hear this case.

Just once, I wish someone would try to impose a non-Christian religion on a public government building in the U.S.

It happens all the time. Don't you know that you have to throw in a Menorah (and a Santa) to get a creche in compliance with the first amendment (that's not really a joke)?
posted by probablysteve at 2:07 PM on August 21, 2003


This man needs to be removed from his position. He is clearly unfit to serve as a judge at any level, because he obviously understands nothing about the law.

Moore said he would continue his fight for what he called the "constitutional right to acknowledge God."

Certainly he has that right - to acknowledge his god, in a church, on his own time.

This case pisses me off so much I can barely see straight. If I lived in Alabama I'd go drive to that building so I could spit on his bogus "monument."
posted by dnash at 2:07 PM on August 21, 2003


Uh, along with the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments are part of the basis of our system of justice. In other words a historical document.

Look, no one is forcing you to pay taxes to support the Church of England.
posted by konolia at 2:11 PM on August 21, 2003


konolia has a point, but Roy has made it clear this has nothing to do with honoring the foundation of our laws.
posted by mcsweetie at 2:18 PM on August 21, 2003


er, perhaps my aversion to fox news has, in this case, proven embarassing!
posted by mcsweetie at 2:20 PM on August 21, 2003


the Ten Commandments are part of the basis of our system of justice. In other words a historical document.

Really? So, like, I could find those tablets at a museum somewhere?

Or maybe you meant doctrine. I hope you meant doctrine.
posted by stefanie at 2:22 PM on August 21, 2003


stefanie, please don't confuse paper with what's written on it. That's just silly.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:35 PM on August 21, 2003


This is not such a spurious case. It is fundamentally about something bigger than statues in courthouses or words in the pledge. While we may all disagree with him, Moore's argument is that US law derives it authority from god--Moore's God, to be specific. It is easy to dismiss the 10 commandments as specific pronouncements of a specific god who may or may not be the one from whom our law is derived. The real question that needs to be meted out once and for all in the legal system is: does US law derive its authority from a God or is its authority based on the fact that it is an effective social contract? I think we can all guess which way the majority of Americans would vote on that one. Until somebody marks this out clearly, these little tiffs will keep happening. The opening of the constitution seems pretty clearly pragmatic in nature:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States...

*We* ordain these rules to facilitate our stated goals and legislative powers are granted "herein" by us. We also make a point of not using the word God in this document.

However, in Moore's defense, the Declaration of Independence says the whole point of the new nation is "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them."

Moore's point is thus not entirely silly and merits a decisive clarification from the SCOTUS. It will not, however, ever happen.... While he may be an ass, I at least respect his effort to keep the debate focused on this fundamental and not sufficiently clear issue with US law.
posted by shinnin at 2:38 PM on August 21, 2003


konolia, are you aware that he had his workers sneak into the building in the middle of the night to install the monument? This isn't a case of someone objecting to an old plaque that's been in the courthouse for years, but of a clearly, cleary maverick judge asserting his will despite the orders of his superiors.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:38 PM on August 21, 2003


We have (supposedly) a separation between church and state.

There have been instances re: christian monuments, plaques, etc and their right to be in official government buildings for years.

Does anyone know if there are practical applications that one can legally act upon regarding instances like these as a US citizen?

For example:
If I were a Alabama resident who was not a christian, and had a court case in that building, and upon seeing the aforementioned monument, felt that I would not get a fair trial because of the monument and what it represents, could I refuse to go to trial at that building?
posted by nakedelf at 2:40 PM on August 21, 2003


FOX's is the only article I've seen that doesn't mention the circumstances surrounding the installation of the monument in the first place. Fair and Balanced?
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:44 PM on August 21, 2003


Uh, except kind of not, konolia. You don't see a whole lot of laws currently enforced about honoring thy father and mother, taking the Lord's name in vain, coveting, keeping the Sabbath, having no other gods before any other god, graven images, or nowadays, adultery. So that pretty much leaves killing, stealing, and bearing false witness. Not values that the judeo-christian belief system has a monopoly on. Are you really going to argue that an overlap of 3 out of 10 (give or take, depending on how you count them), all three of which are pretty universal human values, makes this an appropriate courtroom fixture?

I'd also like to point out that the Code of Hammurabi is notably absent from the courtroom.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 2:45 PM on August 21, 2003


konolia: that's the claim, right. I would like to see some support for it, however. I certainly wouldn't dispute the claim that the ten commandments had an impact on some aspects of our justice system. It's not clear to me how direct, or straightforward, or significant their direct impact is, however.

In fact, most of them explicitly don't apply, consitutionally: only 6 (don't murder), 8 (don't steal), 9 (don't bear false witness), and possibly 10 (none of that coveting now) have any impact on the actual laws that exist in the US. The rest seem inextricably tied with religious viewpoints. It just doesn't appear to me that the claim that the 10 commandments are much of a significant part of the basis of either the justice system or even the body of law as a whole stands up to scrutiny.

on preview: what littlemisscranky said too
posted by advil at 2:46 PM on August 21, 2003


the Ten Commandments are part of the basis of our system of justice


Our system of justice comes from people like King Alfred, Coke, Blackstone, a whole bunch of Englishmen in powdery wigs, documents like the Magna Carta and the Constitution. And for better or worse, a couple of centuries of U.S. politicians and justices of varying quality. Our system is officially not based on religion per our constitution; I'll leave the relationship of canon law to English common law for someone with a better legal background than myself to work out.
posted by gimonca at 2:48 PM on August 21, 2003


Although I did find this article, badly in need of a post-OCR proofread, but still kind of interesting.
posted by gimonca at 2:51 PM on August 21, 2003


the code of hammurabi has been broken by hax0rz. it says "drink ovaltine".
or maybe that was the code of lil orphan annie.
*shrugs*
did i mention i'm running for judge down 'bama way?
posted by quonsar at 2:56 PM on August 21, 2003


I'll bet that this "judge" will be running for a major political office next year -- you heard it here first.
posted by aramaic at 3:12 PM on August 21, 2003


I'm willing to toss in $1,000 towards a nice buddha if there's a judge out there who'll fight to keep it in his court.
posted by mosch at 3:16 PM on August 21, 2003


So if I get sentenced to the death penalty in Alabama can I point out the irony of 'thou shall not kill' and get out of being executed?
posted by Space Coyote at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2003


/shrug

He'll end up having to remove it and/or be removed from office. Case closed.

All the hoopla aside I don't really see what the huge problem is. There's a carved stone pedestal and book in the building. Wheee.

If this judge is upholding the law while on the bench, I think some live and let live is in order.
posted by rudyfink at 3:18 PM on August 21, 2003


I think it's always instructive to see what the local paper has to say:
Moore has painted himself into a corner with his outlandish claims that he is not subject to federal court orders and that his interpretation of what he can do under the state constitution overrides federal judges and the U.S. Constitution. He appears to be enjoying the national spotlight, so he is unlikely to change his position.
posted by emptyage at 3:27 PM on August 21, 2003


Just heard on the news that tomorrow a federal judge will decide whether or not to hold Moore in contempt.
posted by Espoo2 at 3:42 PM on August 21, 2003


A few quotes from Judge Moore

"The people of this state elected me as chief justice to uphold the constitution," he said. "To do my duty, I must acknowledge God."

He accused Thompson of "putting himself not only above the law but above God," and compared his fight to those who railed against slavery.

"No judge or man can decide in whom we can believe or trust," Moore said. "I will not violate my oath I will not negate my duty … I will never deny the God on whom our laws in our country depend."

The source is here.
The article also notes that Moore campaigned as "The Ten Commandments Judge". Apparently Judge Moore was elected to his position. The fact that Moore is a judge is pretty frightening but the fact that he can get elected anywhere in this country is just sad.
posted by rdr at 3:55 PM on August 21, 2003


I cant wait for the next time I get hauled into court and make the argument that it was my GOD who commanded me to smoke that joint, and the laws of god always supercede the laws of man.

That will work, right?
posted by SweetJesus at 4:10 PM on August 21, 2003


From one who escaped living in Alabama a few years ago (and is deeply thankful) - yes, Moore is proudly the Ten Commandments Judge. He uses it to rally the troops - aka voters who want to make sure that religion stays in the schools and courts where it belongs. (I'm being sarcastic, but these folks aren't.)

Yes, many people voted for this guy.
And are still happy with what he's doing.
Yes, lots of Southern politicians run on this kinda hot air.
With a goodly number you know it has more to do with politics ("get the hyper-Christian-fundies to vote for me!") than belief systems. With this guy, hard to tell.

He won't be removed from office. The people of the state want him there. You'd have to live in state to know that this kinda thing goes on all the time. Moore gets national attention because he wants it - AND he has followers in many states that want this to be an issue.
posted by batgrlHG at 4:18 PM on August 21, 2003


From one who escaped living in Alabama a few years ago (and is deeply thankful)

It's o.k.

We don't miss you either.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 4:32 PM on August 21, 2003


Which Ten Commandments? Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant? Or lemme guess...foot-washin' Baptist?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:39 PM on August 21, 2003


Just to play Devil's advocate here (or should it be God's advocate)... Does this also mean that we can't display the Declaration of Independence, or any other state or Federal documents that reference God in any way?
posted by gyc at 4:41 PM on August 21, 2003


It's o.k.

We don't miss you either.


Was there a point to this comment or did I get lost on my way to where the adults were having a discussion?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:41 PM on August 21, 2003


Was there a point to this comment or did I get lost on my way to where the adults were having a discussion?

It has about as much point as saying you 'escaped' alabama in a post about ONE judge, ONE person in alabama.

(or is that the way 'adults' debate in your view)
posted by Dennis Murphy at 4:45 PM on August 21, 2003


Just to play Devil's advocate here (or should it be God's advocate)... Does this also mean that we can't display the Declaration of Independence, or any other state or Federal documents that reference God in any way?

Displaying a code of laws that have nothing to do with the laws that are actually in effect when one enters the court house is rather different from what you described regarding the declaration of independence.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2003



It has about as much point as saying you 'escaped' alabama in a post about ONE judge, ONE person in alabama.


Feel free to illustrate that this judge, elected by popular vote, and the people holding vigil at the monument who had to be escorted out of the building wouldn't be reason enough to think something odd was going on down there.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:47 PM on August 21, 2003


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

I never noticed until today that it says "their creator". Not OUR creator, not THE creator and not HIS creator. Each of us decides for ourselves, and there is no place in government for one creator to be elevated higher than another. All creators are created equal!
posted by pejamo at 4:48 PM on August 21, 2003


Feel free to illustrate that this judge, elected by popular vote,

If I had voted for him it doesn't mean I could see into the future and consider he might pull off such a stunt. You would have to have super powers. He was elected, then took this action. Big difference.

and the people holding vigil at the monument who had to be escorted out of the building wouldn't be reason enough to think something odd was going on down there.

Come on now. Let this happen in any state and you'd have protesters.

I'm use to people putting Alabama down in any thread that mentions the state. It's easy and generalizing the south isn't as frowned upon as other types of generalizing.

I do find it funny, however, that she escaped Alabama politics and ended up in California. You know, with such a solid political climate.
posted by justgary at 4:57 PM on August 21, 2003


Man. This guy sure has a hardon for that graven image.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:14 PM on August 21, 2003


"It has about as much point as saying you 'escaped' alabama in a post about ONE judge, ONE person in alabama."

I'm confused. Are you actually going to argue that stupid crap like this *isn't* endemic in Alabama? Wasn't he elected? Doesn't that, by definition, mean that the majority of voters in Alabama feel this judge isn't a loon?

I've heard this jackass speak, and I'm glad I don't live somewhere where he could get elected to anything. Sure, it's generalizing, but given Alabama's history I'd say that's rather fair.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:18 PM on August 21, 2003


I live about a mile and a half from the monument in question.

He used to have a lot of supporters, but now many people are weary of the fight and don't relish the cash strapped state paying fines to keep his monument there. I am a pretty hardcore athiest, but I don't find myself too worried about manger scenes and Christmas trees in City Hall. My problem with the monument is similar to the 9th Courts problem with "Under God" in the pledge. It is there for indoctrination. Moore campaigned as the 10 commandments judge and he put the monument there because his God is more important than anything else. He was marking his territory as a place where the laws of the Judeo-Xtian God are the basis for everything.

I went and watched the rally for the monument this weekend. They were hoping for 25K, the official estimates by organizers and the paper was 4K. My estimate was 2K. There really weren't a lot of people there.

Alan Keyes keeps being paraded out as a voice of reason by Moore. How scary is that?
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 5:19 PM on August 21, 2003


There is nothing wrong with displaying a document that mentions god, leaving it up to me or whoever to decide which god. But displaying something that is so obviously Christian in the rotunda of the state supreme court, that could be seen as state sponsorship of Christianity, even if it is only one court in one state.

The Puritans were the first to land here, so really our laws and codes are based off their interpretations of the Bible. But we don't stone anyone anymore, and we certainly don't make monuments to it.
posted by SweetJesus at 5:22 PM on August 21, 2003


"It has about as much point as saying you 'escaped' alabama in a post about ONE judge, ONE person in alabama.

(or is that the way 'adults' debate in your view)"


Geez, I was sure MeFi folk would be busy being amazed over Moore and not a brief aside of mine. Actually I escaped Alabama for Louisiana and then CA. And am a southerner from Texas. And have found wackaloons everywhere, especially in politics. (The CA recall experience is definitely surreal.) However I'm not about to begin to share why Alabama is different here, this isn't my forum to share "why Alabama is scary" stories. I could go on and on with exciting personal experiences.

And if you really are from AL you'd have a thicker skin over such a remark. We southerners tend to endure a lot of such comments and in my circle it's not something to get in a huff about. We make jokes about it ourselves. Its the agendas of people like Moore and their comments that I don't take lightly.
posted by batgrlHG at 5:23 PM on August 21, 2003


I would pay money to see that statue removed with a big hammer.

Yes, but would you pay money to see that judge removed with a big hammer?

Anyone? Who's setting up the PayPal account?
posted by stonerose at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2003


The Puritans were the first to land here

Latecomers. The Vikings came before them.

And don't forget all those people who came across the Bering Sea before the Vikings. You know, the ones killed by the Puritan's descendants.

we certainly don't make monuments to it.

Better not remind Judge Moore of that.
posted by donpardo at 5:46 PM on August 21, 2003


And so another politician (elected judge) manipulates the religious fervor of the common folk for personal gain.

Over and over and over again.
posted by the fire you left me at 6:16 PM on August 21, 2003


If I had voted for him it doesn't mean I could see into the future and consider he might pull off such a stunt. You would have to have super powers. He was elected, then took this action. Big difference.
Moore has long been associated with the Ten Commandments. When he began his judicial career at a circuit court in Etowah County he hung a hand-carved, wooden plaque of the Ten Commandments behind the bench in his courtroom.

During his campaign for the chief justice position in November 2000, his campaign committee ran television and radio commercials and posted billboards calling him the "Ten Commandments Judge."
posted by jpoulos at 6:20 PM on August 21, 2003


I'm confused. Are you actually going to argue that stupid crap like this *isn't* endemic in Alabama?

This type of 'stupid crap' is endemic to Alabama (being in the bible belt).

Political stupidity, however, is endemic to the entire nation. California is just as screwed, though in different ways.

I live about a mile and a half from the monument in question.

Nice to hear comments from someone who doesn't live 3000 miles away expressing their opinions from cnn headlines.

During his campaign for the chief justice position in November 2000, his campaign committee ran television and radio commercials and posted billboards calling him the "Ten Commandments Judge."

And this leads me to believe he's going to bring in a 2 ton monument in the middle of the night how?

I have no problem with running on the theme, I do have a problem with his recent actions, which seem underhanded and attention starved.
posted by justgary at 6:24 PM on August 21, 2003


Does this also mean that we can't display the Declaration of Independence, or any other state or Federal documents that reference God in any way?

I don't know what the definition of a federal document is, but I've always thought of the Declaration of Independence as just sort of a memo that everybody signed.

Anyway, regarding your question, there shouldn't be a problem displaying federal documents that reference god. The problem is that the 10 commandments are not a federal document, they are completely religious, and you can't display them as though they were a part of our government.

As far as having the word "god" in the constitution, declaration of independence, et cetera, I have no problem just saying it was a mistake to put them in there in the first place, a mistake caused by the intellectual climate in place at the time they were written. They probably had a different idea of what constituted religious and governmental separation, and I'm not shy about just saying that referencing god in an official document was ok in the 18th century, but should be removed in order to be relevant in the 21st.
posted by Hildago at 6:33 PM on August 21, 2003


And this leads me to believe he's going to bring in a 2 ton monument in the middle of the night how?

Oh, please...
Deep in the heart of Dixie, Judge Roy Moore is a states-rights fist looking for a federal fight. In the government-battling tradition of the Confederacy and of former Alabama governor George Wallace, Moore is defying first one judge and then another over separation of church and state.

...

In a case that pits an Alabama district judge against the American Civil Liberties Union over the wall between church and state, Moore has defied the order of State District Judge Charles Price of Montgomery to remove a homemade plaque of the Ten Commandments from a wall of his courtroom.

...

To add further defiance to his actions, Moore is also continuing his tradition of allowing local pastors to open his Etowah County Circuit Court day with prayer, even after being ordered by Price to stop. Moore has appealed.

...

I've vowed I'm not going to stop opening with prayer," Moore says. "I'm not going to take down the Ten Commandments..."
--Christianity Today, December 8, 1997
Yeah, you're right. Who ever would have guessed....
posted by jpoulos at 6:37 PM on August 21, 2003


"Nice to hear comments from someone who doesn't live 3000 miles away expressing their opinions from cnn headlines."

Yeah, my friends in Alabama are saying "where was all the fuss when he put the monument in in the first place and we protested it?" Guess they didn't call the right news agencies...

Everyone knew about Moore - he's never been shy about his opinions. As I remember I voted against him in at least one election. Not that I remember who I voted for, just made sure to vote against Moore.
posted by batgrlHG at 6:40 PM on August 21, 2003


Yeah, you're right. Who ever would have guessed....

Jpoulos, if to you it was all leading to a 2 ton monument being snuck in during the middle of the night, good for you.

Yeah, my friends in Alabama are saying "where was all the fuss when he put the monument in in the first place and we protested it?" Guess they didn't call the right news agencies...

Ha. And I didn't mean that comment in a bad way. There simply isn't many mefi members near the alabama area. Any post about NY or Cali will commented on by dozens at the scene. A post on anything in Alabama is usually commented on by people who have read that such a place exists.

Nice to see a first person account.
posted by justgary at 6:52 PM on August 21, 2003


I believe that Jesus had something to say about that sort of religious grand-standing.
posted by clevershark at 7:02 PM on August 21, 2003


If it gets moved it will only be because God permits it.


What's so scary about Alabama, BTW? I was just down there a few days ago and didn't notice anything.
posted by konolia at 8:52 PM on August 21, 2003


Jpoulos, if to you it was all leading to a 2 ton monument being snuck in during the middle of the night, good for you.

Wait, wait. The point is just that Alabamans ought to have known he'd do something awful and stupid, not that they could guess what form that would take. By your logic, if my dog bit someone on the left leg, there would be no reason for me to suspect he was capable of biting someone on the right leg.

Face it, he shouldn't have been voted in. The problem is that nobody pays attention to who they vote for, nobody reads up on candidates. This isn't an Alabama problem, it's just a problem with people in general.
posted by Hildago at 8:59 PM on August 21, 2003


The point is just that Alabamans ought to have known he'd do something awful and stupid, not that they could guess what form that would take. By your logic, if my dog bit someone on the left leg, there would be no reason for me to suspect he was capable of biting someone on the right leg.

I agree that there is a pattern. The point I'm trying to make is that not everyone who voted him in agrees with what he did. I work with several.

To them, he has crossed the line. Should they have noticed his past more? Yes. But to them there is a difference in what he's done now and what he did before.

For your analogy to work it must deal with equal situations. Dog bites left leg, bites right leg. They're equal. If you see what he's done in the past as equal to what he's done now, then fine. Many people here do not.

I'm not trying say he should have been voted in. I did not vote for him. For many people in Alabama, regardless if they're right or wrong, it isn't as black and white as you're making it.

This isn't an Alabama problem, it's just a problem with people in general.

That I completely agree with, which is why I think its a little misplaced to try to escape Alabama politics when the problem isn't limited to the state.
posted by justgary at 9:28 PM on August 21, 2003


which is why I think its a little misplaced to try to escape Alabama politics when the problem isn't limited to the state...the problems just take different forms. /edit
posted by justgary at 9:30 PM on August 21, 2003


I've lived in the South all my life, and in Alabama for the past four. I've never seen anything quite like Roy Moore, even if I'm seen elements of him in particular individuals. He's a freak, but a dangerous and absolutely frightening freak.

He was, by the way, elected to office on a "throw Republicans into the court because the Democrat court is corrupt" tide. He won backing from almost all the important business interests. So the trade-off for more business-friendly decisions and lower tort payouts is national shame. So take out the fundamentalism - itself an exaggerated version of an American religious streak (really - even New York and California residents believe in hell and Satan more than any place in Canada; 94 percent of Americans believe Mary was a virgin, etc.) - and you have a what's as much as distinctly American story as a southern or Alabama one.

(This only shows to me again, by the way, that judicial elections - if you must have them - should be nonpartisan. But that's not going to happen right now, unfortunately.)
posted by raysmj at 10:05 PM on August 21, 2003


However, in Moore's defense, the Declaration of Independence says the whole point of the new nation is "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them."


... but the dec. of independence is not a legally-binding document. it's more shrewd letter to king george III; US law begins with the constitution
posted by 11235813 at 10:05 PM on August 21, 2003


Ok...gotta chime in here. Qualifications: I live in Alabama. I voted for Moore at the last election (actually thought he was the best qualified person running). Keep in mind that you don't have to have previosuly served on the Alabama Supreme Court to win the election for the Chief Justice position. All this just so you know where I'm coming from, at least I'm up front about it.

Candidly, I'm more disappointed in the delivery than in the message. To wit...from the discussion above, I gather that the majority of our group have NOT seen the monument in question. While Moore has kept the focus on the Ten Commandments issue, it really DOES have to do with other issues of a historical nature in the OTHER things engraved on the monument.

Where he has blown it is in not pushing this as a States Rights versus Federalism issue. Last I heard, the federal government is run based on the Constitution. My copy says that "Congress shall make no..." In other words, this is a restriction on the ability of the LEGISLATIVE branch to establish a national religion. The Constitution simply does not address actions taken by the JUDICIAL branch of government.

And furthermore, a STATE judicial branch at that. Alabama (as every other state) has a duly recognized sovreign constitution of it's own. Where the federal Constitution does not limit itself, the states have pretty much free rein in authority. The fact is...Moore did not place this monument in a FEDERAL building but a building of the JUDICIAL branch of the State of Alabama. I personally fail to grasp the jurisdictional claim by the 11th Court of Appeals.

And, IMHO, the Supreme Court of the US missed a golden opportunity to clarify these sort of Federalism issues that have loomed on the horizon for some time. That's why, as a conservative, I hate these wishy-washy justices that are not strict constructionists. If they don't like the US Constitution, there's a recognized method to change it - but quit making law from the bench. I am far less concerned about abortion and antitrust issues than I am the fact that each state deserves to manage their own affairs in a way that the framers of the Constitution intended.

Anyway, that's my two cents and I'm sticking to it.
posted by insulglass at 10:19 PM on August 21, 2003


In other words, this is a restriction on the ability of the LEGISLATIVE branch to establish a national religion. The Constitution simply does not address actions taken by the JUDICIAL branch of government.

Hear that? That's John Ashcroft ejaculating in his pants over and over again.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:49 PM on August 21, 2003


That's John Ashcroft ejaculating in his pants over and over again.

Memo to self: those nightmares you've been having lately may have something to do with reading Metafilter 'one last time' before trundling off to bed.

Option #5 in spell check for Ashcroft is scrota!
posted by Fezboy! at 11:13 PM on August 21, 2003


insulglass: that may be the phrasing of the original constitution, but from reading about the history of the first amendment at findlaw, it appears that for most of rulings and case law behind it take the reference to "congress" to refer to the state. This goes back to Jefferson's statement that the purpose of the 1st amendment is to build "a wall of separation between Church and State.", which the supreme court shortly enshrined as ''almost an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment.''

Furthermore, very few of the cases tried in scotus, at least that are mentioned by findlaw, (and therefore the precedents relevant to the question) have to do with acts of the federal government. Almost all are state, county, or town governments. It appears that almost universally, scotus has taken this not to be an issue of federalism; and it would be surprising if they started now.

None of these rulings are changing the constitution, and I don't think many people would even interpret them as making law from the bench. They are simply ruling on the interpretation of what is written, drawing from relevant case history etc.

In short, from what I have read, your interpretation of the first amendment may have once been applicable, but is nothing like the one which has guided the country for any significant part of its history.
posted by advil at 11:21 PM on August 21, 2003


As a follower of Christ studying the Bible I'm oscillating between libertarianism and theonomy. I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.

God's law is perfect and holy, and should be the foundation for all ethics. Any other foundation is built on the rebellious giving-God-the-middle-finger-rejection of God's self-authoritative Word.

The question though for me in a situation like this is... what is the best way to go about promoting God's law (and of course, mercy)? These valiant zealots for God's law should seek a better premise for their promotion; our country's heritage in ethics and constitution is heavily influenced by Judeo-Christianity, but the founding fathers weren't characteristically followers of Christ. Rather than fall back on some imaginary heritage, Christians, if consistent and abiding by faith, should build on the foundation of Biblical presuppositionalism.
posted by aaronshaf at 11:34 PM on August 21, 2003


Perhaps shortening the Ten down to George Carlin's Two might be acceptable...

"Thou shalt always be honest and faithful to the provider of thy nookie.

&

Thou shalt try real hard not to kill anyone, unless of course they pray to a different invisible man than you.

Two is all you need; Moses could have carried them down the hill in his fuckin' pocket. I wouldn't mind those folks in Alabama posting them on the courthouse wall, as long as they provided one additional commandment:

Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself."

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:56 AM on August 22, 2003


"We have a federal judge saying we can't recognize who God is, yet that's the basis of our justice system,"

Hmm, the Alabama Constitution of 1901 section 2 disagrees:

People source of power.

That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit; and that, therefore, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to change their form of government in such manner as they may deem expedient.

Section 3 also mentions something about "that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect"
posted by betaray at 3:39 AM on August 22, 2003


"God's law is perfect and holy"

Too bad no one can agree on what it is. And historically people are more likely to kill over it than follow it.

God's law - No so hot in practice.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:23 AM on August 22, 2003


I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.

aaronshaf, we already have those kinds of theocracies in the middle east...it's just not the God you believe in...is that really the way you think America should be?

Until Christians stop trying to turn this country into a theocracy these problems are going to continue...perhaps it's time for a Liberia-type country elsewhere for you guys? You'll never succeed here, and many of us will devote our lives to keeping this country a place where people of all religions and no religion can live as they wish.
posted by amberglow at 5:00 AM on August 22, 2003


make that "Until some Christians", and add "as equals" to the end (it's early)
posted by amberglow at 5:04 AM on August 22, 2003


If it gets moved it will only be because God permits it.


Nonsense. Men can do things that are against God's will or permission. That's why he can punish them.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:26 AM on August 22, 2003


I just saw this twerp on the Today show comparing himself to Martin Luther King. On the 40th anniversary of the "I have a dream" speech.

Isn't there anything about shame in these commandments?


Also, someone should sneak a monument to Islam into the courthouse and put it next to his.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:27 AM on August 22, 2003


I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.

Yeah, so what about us atheists and pagans? Why should we live according to rules handed down by your imaginary-friend-in-the-sky to a bunch of middle eastern sheepherders 4000 years ago?

Your realize that you're just a western version of the Taliban, right?
posted by bshort at 5:44 AM on August 22, 2003


94 percent of Americans believe Mary was a virgin

I want that on a T-shirt.
posted by archimago at 6:02 AM on August 22, 2003


From aaronshaf's last link:

"...the issue is not if one should believe or not but to assert and prove that the Christian system of belief and knowledge is preeminent of all others AND therefore should be adopted in practice even in spite of a prevailing societal rebellion against such a system."

Aaron, your comments make you sound like a nice - if deluded - kid. While I doubt you'll take heed, I would urge you to consider the idea that a belief system is profoundly dysfunctional to the extent that it seeks ways express its pre-eminence, rather than adopting a posture of humility towards the beauty that is our universe: a universe in which we cannot have certain, immutable knowledge.

I would also urge you (if your educators allow it) to immerse yourself, for a time, in the writings of philosophers such as Richard Rorty. (Directly, not as exposited by Christian fundamentalist thinkers.) Once you have adopted a more humble attitude toward the idea of truth, you may have something of interest to say in this community. As it stands, you, yourself, are critiquing others from a foundation that is equally imaginary.
posted by stonerose at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2003


I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.

Someone should be squirting Thorazine down your throat with a hose. God's been really quiet for a few millenia-- it would be pretty amusing to me to watch a group of crazies try to govern based on the conflicting instructions from an old book and interpreting natural phenomena and coincidence as cryptic instructions from an invisible, silent superhero. But only if they weren't associated with me in any way. Secession beckens-- I promise to do my best to ensure that we don't try to get in your way this time. Just give us your nukes before you go because the voices that you think are God will make you do something really destructive sooner or later.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:45 AM on August 22, 2003


I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.

I have no idea what you're talking about. Even with all the helpful commentary above.

This is a secular world we're living in. Look forward all you want. Your vision died centuries ago. It's the past you're looking for.
posted by attackthetaxi at 6:53 AM on August 22, 2003


God's law is perfect and holy, and should be the foundation for all ethics. Any other foundation is built on the rebellious giving-God-the-middle-finger-rejection of God's self-authoritative Word.

Apologies to your studies of something you are obviously very keen on, but that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:54 AM on August 22, 2003


As a follower of Christ studying the Bible I'm oscillating between libertarianism and theonomy. I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.

This appears to be two philosophies that are stuck in mutual contradiction. Especially given that Libertarianism has at its base, concerns about the use of non-consensual force and self-ownership. The two ideologies come from radically different roots, libertarianism from a philosophical rejection of vesting civic power in the role of the Church. In fact, the primary source of constitutional ecumenicism created by the founding fathers was based on a radically new concept of freedom of conscience in an age where the rifts between Christian denominations were as acute as the Palistinian-Israeli rift today.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:08 AM on August 22, 2003


I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted and where His covenant-people have regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience.
That is absolutely the funniest thing I have ever heard. For a minute, you had me actually believing you were serious. I'm still laughing...... "regenerated hearts to walk in complete obedience"...... Oh goodness, that is rich, baby, RICH!
posted by bradth27 at 7:11 AM on August 22, 2003


I certainly look forward to a God-ruled theocracy where God's law is perfectly instituted

I thought that part of being human was the fact that we are flawed. I personally don't think that I have the ability to "perfectly institute" anything. Even with the best intentions...

Unless God somehow shows up to directly control the system, how are you going to make sure human biases like greed don't get introduced into the system?

Any other foundation is built on the rebellious giving-God-the-middle-finger-rejection of God's self-authoritative Word.

Does this include foundations that predate the Ten Commandments? What about societies that were created without a knowledge of Christianity?

I, for one, do not welcome our new theocratical overlords.
posted by mikeh at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2003


Amberglow: The foundation for my socio-political ethics and personal ethics will always be Biblical law (God willing), as it should be for any Christian. Much of what you say in your last paragraph is what I am currently considering in my oscillation between Libertarianism and the bottom-up (from self to family to church to society to goverenment) working of theonomy.

Stonerose: Your idea of humility isn't reasonable and I'll never buy it. I'm not going to irrationally adhere to normative pluralism, thinking absolutism is somewhow equivalent to arrogance or elitism.

For instance, I have sound reasons for believing in the uniformity of nature, the law of noncontradiction, the law of excluded middle... Is such certainty over transcendental principles inappropriate?

KirkJobSluder: You're right, they are quite different. My adherence to Libertarianism, if ever, would be out of a bit of pragmaticism, finding application of theonomy in a society that hates God futile and the protection of everyone's "basic rights" the next best thing.

attackthetaxi: It'll be far better in the future than it ever was in the past!

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
posted by aaronshaf at 7:43 AM on August 22, 2003


aaronshaf, does that directive include reasoning at the level of little children too?
posted by clever sheep at 8:02 AM on August 22, 2003


Oh.... wait a minute there, aaronshaf.... You WERE serious?
posted by bradth27 at 8:06 AM on August 22, 2003


aaronshaf, apologies--that wasn't a worthy contribution on my part. What can I say, I'm trying to give up coffee and it's not going well.

By way of explanation, I believe firmly in the inaccessibility of universal truths thanks to a wide variety of inescapable human filters: the inherent distortion in neural processing of physical stimuli, the inexact translation of concepts into arbitrary symbols and language for purpose of calculation and communication, the coloration of experience that affects everything we process, the literal and figurative existence of multiple points of view, the influence of the observer on the observed, etc. ad nauseum.

In short, we're unlikely to ever agree on anything, and in particular how wonderful it will be when everybody is governed by universal truths passed on to us by a divine being... Even assuming that the end state doesn't resemble the current model of violent, repressive theocracies in the Middle East.

In addition, I'm curious--your copy of the Bible doesn't predict anything about God setting up a perfectly realized theocracy, does it? I don't remember any such notions like that from my years in Catholic school. Given that, what makes you think that instituting such a system here or anywhere else is what God intends? ...I'd think you would be focused more on the Rapture or something.
posted by clever sheep at 8:23 AM on August 22, 2003


Mikeh: Part of the new covenant Christ will institute is a God-worked regeneration in the hearts of people that will render our obedience to God perfect and holy.

"Unless God somehow shows up to directly control the system, how are you going to make sure human biases like greed don't get introduced into the system?"

That's a huge, good question, which leads me to doubt (for now?) that anything substantially good can happen in the way of theonomy until the Second Coming.

"Does this include foundations that predate the Ten Commandments? What about societies that were created without a knowledge of Christianity?"

Perhaps my comment to which you reponded needs some explanation/clarification.

I build off two premises:

1. "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them..." Romans 2:14, 15

2. A rejection of that which is known of God's law is rebellion.

So, if you have the law merely written on your heart, or also have it in written form, and then build your ethics on a different foundation, it is rebellion. (I would venture to say that much of the world's ethical systems reflect the knowledge of God's universal moral law!)

clever sheep: I just saw your post upon preview. I don't mean to cop out for the day, but I'll be back on Metafilter tonight (after work) to discourse!

AIM: aaronshaf
posted by aaronshaf at 8:38 AM on August 22, 2003


All the hoopla aside I don't really see what the huge problem is. There's a carved stone pedestal and book in the building. Wheee.

Right. That simple. So you'd have no problem with a big stone swastika and a collector's edition of Mein Kampf on display? Or how about a statue of a goat having sex with a monkey, and a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook? Wheee indeed.
posted by holycola at 8:43 AM on August 22, 2003


aaronshaf: care to address what you plan to do with the 99% of us who think that your little scheme is a bad idea?

Going to convert us at gunpoint? Give us the option of leaving? Conduct a cleansing?

Then, lets say you manage to set up your little dictatorship. Who runs it? You?

What if someone disagrees with you, but claims to be inspired by God as well. Whatcha going to do about that?

Its time for you to realize that when you hear "God" you're just deifying the voices in your head.
posted by bshort at 8:47 AM on August 22, 2003


Metafilter: Your idea of humility isn't reasonable and I'll never buy it.
posted by stonerose at 8:49 AM on August 22, 2003


OK, but I've bookmarked aaronshaf's Debunking the Myth of a "Christian Nation." He's not a total fundy loonie -- have a look.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:55 AM on August 22, 2003


"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
“Adults intellectually and during working hours,” he went on. “Infants where feeling and desire are concerned.”

“Our Ford loved infants.”
posted by Space Coyote at 9:24 AM on August 22, 2003


bshort: My guess is that this comment answers your question:

"That's a huge, good question, which leads me to doubt (for now?) that anything substantially good can happen in the way of theonomy until the Second Coming."

In other words, those of us who don't believe along with aaronshaf will be dealt with when the second coming happens and either cast into the pit of hell or turned into people who perfectly obey God's law.

I agree with Aaron that it would take the second coming for his theonomy to work, so I'm not too worried about it happening any time soon.
posted by jennyb at 9:56 AM on August 22, 2003


If it gets moved it will only be because God permits it.

May be true but lame argument, because it was made & moved by a man originally. Plus there are more than 10 commandments(english translation from hebrew, lost translations) so he only supports those 10?
If the judge is so Godly, why not quit. Instead he shows selfishness, his way not God's way. If he had done it for God soley, he had picked up his statue upon being told it had to go and left his robe instead, leaving his worldly job behind. This guys not a witness to God, he is sinner by God's laws too, not obeying his superiors orders. So am I by judging him, but it's not like I've never been wrongly judged by a Judge either.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:24 AM on August 22, 2003


bshort: My guess is that this comment answers your question:

"That's a huge, good question, which leads me to doubt (for now?) that anything substantially good can happen in the way of theonomy until the Second Coming."


Um, yeah, but I was asking aaron, not you.

I appreciate that you're attempting to mediate or something, but you're using words that aaron wrote to answer a different question than the one that he was addressing.

We've established that aaron is a fundamentalist. Now we're just trying to figure out what flavor of fundamentalist he is.
posted by bshort at 10:49 AM on August 22, 2003


look, jesus died. I'm sorry for your loss but he's not coming back. thats just the way it is.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:58 AM on August 22, 2003


Uh, along with the Code of Hammurabi, the Ten Commandments are part of the basis of our system of justice. In other words a historical document

In other contexts, sure. The Supreme Court of the US has artwork with Moses and the Commandments, and Mohammed and the Koran, and other stuff on it.

But Moore's history and statements show that he's not displaying a historical document, he's trying to bring Bible religion into his courthouse.

[kaga-san] If memory serves me, [/kaga-san] his old habit as a lower court judge was to ostentatiously insist on counsel praying with him beforehand, firmly and Christianly enough that some lawyers felt that they could not receive a fair hearing in his courthouse unless they submitted to the prayer ritual, even if they were not Christian.

It really really really pisses me off when people like Moore or school-prayer zealots or anti-evolution people get all two-faced -- if they're talking to a judge or a higher judge, they're just interested in displaying a historical document, or talking about a scientific theory, or whatever, but if they're talking to a church group then they're bringing Bible religion back into [foo]. They're lying to someone, and lying for Christ is as daft as killing for peace or whoring for chastity.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:33 PM on August 22, 2003


mcsweetie, you're awesome. I'm going to steal that line and use it the next chance I get.
posted by bshort at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2003


aaron, perhaps you can find those parts of our laws that meld with your personal beliefs and ethics (as opposed to the judge who is breaking the law to promote his own religion--see thomcat's post)...I myself am proud that we have some sort of public education system, welfare system and housing for the homeless, meager and underfunded as they are, because it's important to take care of each other...to that end, I work for and vote for candidates who will continue and strengthen those actions our government takes on our behalf that match my personal beliefs of respect, equality, justice, and opportunity.

Trying to make YOUR religious laws the laws of OUR land isn't really what your religion or most religions dictate, is it?
posted by amberglow at 2:26 PM on August 22, 2003


I guess the problem with the TAG (which seems to be the core of pesuppositionalism) is that it does not seem to be all that compelling an argument for specifically Chistianity. The argument that there does appear to be a universal moral code, in that most people tend to not wantonly kill their neighbors, can just as easily be an argument for the Buddhist claim that Buddhism is obvious once you think about it, as for the Chistian claim to a divine revelation written on our hearts. American Chistians (with the exception of Catholic Monastics and a few lingering communal sects) have enough trouble following the law written in the book, much less behave morally due to divine guidance written on their hearts.

At the very least, an anarcho-libertarian nation would be a win-win situations for both theocrats and freethinkers who want to be left alone. The theocrats can exercise their right to live in their own communities unmolested, and the rest of us can visit their quaint agarian communities when the experiment inevetably falls apart.

Basically, I still see libertarianism and Chistianity to be mutually incompatible philosophies. At its base, libertarian ethics are based on the principle that the best thing one can do for one's fellow man is to leave him alone, while the Christian ethos is fundamentally communal and based on helping the less fortunate regardless of ideology, faith, gender and social class.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:47 PM on August 22, 2003


Alabama’s Chief Justice Suspended Over Ten Commandments Display [ABC News]
posted by jaronson at 5:32 PM on August 22, 2003


Here's the AP version via the Chron.

Moore met with the commission earlier Friday as about 100 of his supporters, several blocks away at the federal courthouse, ripped and burned a copy of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's order for the monument's removal.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:57 PM on August 22, 2003


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