The State Supreme
Court of Alabama ordered Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove a large granite
monument of the Ten Commandments which he had placed on public display in
the Alabama Judicial Building.
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Judge Moore refused to comply with the demands of the State Supreme Court,
saying, "Let me assure you. The fight to defend our constitutional rights
to acknowledge God must and will continue."
The fight did continue. Judge Moore lost.
In a past stand-off with the Feds, Judge Moore placed a wooden plaque of
the 10 Commandments on the wall of his courtroom, and refused to take it
down when so ordered by a federal judge. The Feds threatened to send in U.S.
Marshals to remove the plaque. Then Governor Fob James promised to meet any
marshals sent to remove the plaque with state troopers and the Alabama National
Guard. The Feds backed down.
The Feds didn't back down this time. On August 27th, 2002, the monument was
removed from the public view. It was wheeled away and shoved in a closet.
We speak metaphorically about how America has turned its back on God.
In Alabama our metaphors became reality.
Jurisdiction and Religion
By what authority did the federal government remove the monument?
One of the main issues at hand was the issue of jurisdiction. Many people
who opposed Judge Moore accused him of resisting the "rule of law." But one
must ask...the rule of what law?
There are many amendments in our United States Constitution which are misinterpreted.
But there is one amendment which is completely ignored -- the Tenth Amendment.
The text of that amendment reads: "The powers not delegated to the United
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved
to the states respectively, or to the people." The interpretation is simple.
The individual states may do whatever they please as long as their actions
are not in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Indeed, according to any sensible and historical interpretation of the First
and the Tenth Amendments, the states have the right to go so far as to establish
a state religion. At the time of the writing of the U.S. Constitution, many
states had state-established churches which remained in place even after
the signing of the Constitution. The Establishment Clause was included to
prohibit the establishment of a state church by Congress; a 10-year-old child knows that there is a difference between laws passed by Congress and laws passed by the individual states.
Of course, to argue that the U.S. Constitution was intended to trump Biblical Law is ridiculous.
One must only turn to James Madison, the primary author of the U.S. Constitution,
to prove just how ridiculous such an argument would be. In the Federalist
Papers, Madison asked, "On what principle the Confederation, which stands
in the solemn form of a compact among the States, can be superseded without
the unanimous consent of the parties to it?" He answered his own question
by saying, "The...question is answered at once by recurring to the absolute
necessity of the case; to the great principle of self-preservation; to the
transcendent law of nature and of nature's God."
Madison went further, however, when he said, "We have staked the whole future
of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it.
We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity
of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to
govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to
The Ten Commandments of God."
The First Amendment was intended to prevent Congress from establishing a
state church. It was not intended to prevent the federal government from
recognizing the transcendence of God's law, much less to prevent the state
of Alabama from acknowledging the legitimate authority of God's Ten Commandments.
Judge Moore's Oath
The issue was not just one of jurisdiction. The issue was also one one of
whether or not Judge Moore could break his word in order to obey the commands
of a federal judge.
The preamble to the Constitution of the State of Alabama reads: "We, the
people of the State of Alabama, in order to establish justice, insure domestic
tranquillity, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish
the following Constitution and form of government for the State of Alabama."
Upon taking office as Chief Justice, Judge Moore was required to swear an
oath to uphold the state constitution. As he said, "My oath of office to
the Constitution requires an acknowledgment of God. It's that simple."
Judge Moore could not break his oath. To obey is better than sacrifice, yet Moore sacrificed himself in order to obey.
On What Basis?
U.S. District Judge Thompson, who ordered Judge Moore to remove the monument,
said that the main issue was "if government can acknowledge God."
And so another issue arose in relation to the situation with Judge Moore: where does law come from?
Most Christians will tell you that law has no validity unless it is founded
upon God's law. In fact, a few hundred years ago William Penn, the founder
of the state of Pennsylvania, said, "Those people who are not governed by
God's Law will be ruled by tyrants." One of Judge Moore's lawyers, Stephen
Melchior, echoed Penn's sentiments when he said, "God is the source of our
liberty...If the state doesn't acknowledge God, the state is in a position
to say, 'You know those inalienable rights, forget about [them].'"
Dr. George Grant wrote
that, "Apart from the succinct standard of the Ten Commandments, liberty
is left to the whims of fashion and fancy, it is left to the benevolence
of the elite and the beneficence of the powerful...without the unchanging
standard, the unwavering foundation of ethics outlined in the Ten Commandments,
we are left to the mercy of momentary affectations of juridical discretion."
In rejecting the Ten Commandments as the basis for legitimate law, Judge
Thompson made it clear from whence the federal government draws its basis
for law: from the air. From its twisted imagination.
To again quote Dr. Grant, "When the big laws are abandoned, you don’t get
anarchism; you don’t get libertarianism; you get governmentalism." When the
legitimate law of God is rejected, man gives himself up to the tyrannous
and numerous laws of the State. As G.K. Chesterton said, “If men will not
be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand
God is the only authority who can grant any legitimacy to law, and God's
law is the only law to which man may legitimately bind man. In their efforts
to force Judge Moore to remove the granite monument, the federal judges essentially
sought to establish atheism as the national religion...with the State the
god of the godless religion.
Could Moore Acquiesce?
A final issue arose. That issue was, could Judge Moore obey the demands of
the federal judges while continuing in obedience to God?
He could not.
If Judge Moore had caved to the evil demands of the federal government, he
would have been guilty of disobedience to the One True God. John Knox once
said, "If ye obey the unjust commandments of wicked rulers, ye shall suffer
God's vengeance and just punishment with them."
Judge Moore's civil disobedience was commendable and righteous.
Many Christians will argue that Judge Moore was sinning against God in his
refusal to obey the civil authorities which God had placed over him. John
Knox said, "All authority which God hath established, is good and perfect,
and is to be obeyed of all men, yea under the pain of damnation."
It is true that you and I and Judge Moore are bound by God to obey all authority which God has established over us.
Yet, John Knox continues, "But do ye not understand, that there is a great
difference betwixt the authority which is God's ordinance, and the persons
of those which are placed in authority?" The federal government is falling
far short of the requirements of legitimate government laid out in Romans
13:3-5. Most specifically, the federal government has set itself up as a
terror to good works, and not to evil, and has publicly renounced its call
to be the minister of God.
If a tyrant (Judge Thompson and the Feds, in this case) is guilty of disobedience
to God, then it is our duty as Christians to oppose that tyrant. Remember
that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God, and that if a civil ruler
breaks covenant with God, the citizenry are duty-bound to throw off the shackles
of the tyrannical State.
Judge Moore stood solid in his refusal to accept anyone but Jesus Christ
as his Lord and King, and the righteous ruler as a legitimate civil authority.
Judge Moore stood before the federal government, and said, like the Apostles
Peter and John, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto
you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which
we have seen and heard."
In his poem "America the Beautiful or So You Used To Be," Judge Moore wrote, "We've voted in a government that's rotting at the core/Appointing Godless Judges who throw reason out the door."
Thousands of years ago, a choice was placed before the nation of Israel.
In Joshua 24:15, we read, "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD,
choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which
your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods
of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we
will serve the LORD."
Let the resounding cries of the faithful American remnant be three:
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God."
"No King but King Jesus."
"As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
And, lastly, let the faithful American remnant stand as Judge Moore stood
and defy the blasphemous federal government with the words, "We ought to
obey God rather than men."
Pieter Friedrich, a homeschool graduate living near Sacramento, CA, runs Deux Ego and contributes to several conservative e-zines.
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