What went ye out into the wilderness to see?… A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. Matthew 11:7–8
"All history supports the acknowledgement of God," proclaims Judge Roy Moore, who lost his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court because he wouldn't stop acknowledging God as the source of law and morality.
Moore's new book, So Help Me God (Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN), scheduled for release in March, sets out his position in no uncertain terms. If you were pretty sure all along that Moore is right and his critics are wrong, this book will make you very sure indeed.
The book blends biography and advocacy. It should. Moore's unflinching defense of the Ten Commandments flows from his life experience. Who he is, is very much a part of what he does. It will also explain how he has stood up so well against those who have employed every expedient to silence him, short of putting out a contract on him.
For someone like me, who grew up in a middle-class suburb in New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s, the story of Roy Moore's early life poses a contrast that borders on the shocking. I took it for granted that my mother would put meat on the table every night for supper; that new clothes and shoes would be provided as I needed them; that our house would be warm in the winter; that electricity, indoor plumbing, a reliable car, television, and vacations were a matter of course, not to be questioned.
At the same time in rural Alabama, the Moore family enjoyed none of these amenities—not one. In my town and in my county, no one lived like that. In Etowah County, Alabama, many people did, including most of the Moores' neighbors.
Roy Moore would not have gone to college without a Congressional appointment to West Point. His description of the rigors of West Point in the early 1960s convinced me that, on the whole, I’m glad I was in Philadelphia, living a more restful life. At West Point he took up a relaxing hobby: boxing.
From there he went on to Viet Nam, where he survived both the enemy and recalcitrant troops who didn't appreciate their officers. Coming home to Alabama, Moore set up a hometown law practice, bought a cheap plot of land and a used mobile home, and set about building a house from scratch, with his own hands. Strapped for funds, he had to learn how to make his own furniture. He married, and the first of his four children was born. He found time for another relaxing pastime: full-contact karate.
Is this a man you want to mess with?
After what he's been through, Roy Moore is intimidation-proof. Bring on the ACLU, the feminists, the experts in political maneuver, the lawsuits, the judicial inquisitions. They won't scare Roy Moore.
The Meaning of the Constitution
But it's not sheer cussedness that drives him to defend the Ten Commandments against the intolerant secular power structure. He takes pains to lay out his legal reasoning.
Moore was deprived of his office because he disobeyed a federal judge's order to remove the Ten Commandments monument he installed in his courthouse. "I disobeyed because I was ethically bound to do so by my oath of office," he explains (p. 240, in the advanced unedited readers' edition).
At the heart of his argument lies the assertion that activist judges, such as the one who ordered him to remove the monument, are the ones who are violating the U.S. Constitution. The state constitution of Alabama contains the words, "invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God." The Chief Justice of Alabama, he argues, is bound by the constitution to acknowledge God.
"In my case," he writes, "Judge Thompson could have ordered the Ten Commandments monument to be removed by commanding a ministerial officer—one not sworn to uphold the Constitution—to carry out the order. But he did not have the authority to order me to remove the monument. In carrying out that order, I would have violated both my oath of office and my conscience. Had Judge Thompson ordered a ministerial officer to remove the monument, it still would have been an unlawful order, but a violation of the oath of office would not have been implicated" (p. 218).
Hall of Fame baseball umpire Bill Klem was famous for saying "It ain't nothin' till I call it." This seems to be the legal theory invoked by Moore's activist critics: the law means only what that particular judge, on that particular day, says it means. He might give it a completely different spin tomorrow. This approach is currently taught in law schools under the banner of "the living Constitution." That is, the Constitution is "a living document" whose meaning changes in response to changing times.
Moore won't have it so. He believes the words of the Constitution have the same meaning today as they had in 1789; that laws are enacted by elected legislators to serve specific, stated purposes; and that judges have no business changing the intent of the laws by "legislating from the bench."
It's not Roy Moore who is undermining the Constitution. Consider this quote he provides from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:
Solicitude for the views of foreign and international courts also appeared in last term's decision in Lawrence v. Texas . In ruling that consensual homosexual activity in one's home is constitutionally protected, the Supreme Court relied in part on a series of decisions from the European Court of Human Rights. I suspect that with time, we will rely increasingly on international and foreign law resolving what now appears to be domestic issues, as we both appreciate more fully the ways in which domestic issues have international dimensions, and recognize the rich resources available to us in the decisions of foreign courts. (p. 248)
Maybe this can be taken to the point where we don't need a U.S. Constitution at all. We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble in 1776 if we'd only realized we can be governed by foreign law.
One can imagine James Madison turning over in his grave. But at least one of Moore's antagonists can't imagine it. One of the plaintiffs who sought the removal of the Ten Commandments monument, an ACLU attorney, did not know that James Madison was once president of the United States. "When a lawyer does not even know that James Madison was president of the United States, I doubt that she would know that he was the chief architect of the Constitution that she was sworn as a lawyer to uphold, or that Madison proposed the First Amendment on which she had brought suit" (p. 183).
Another plaintiff said the monument should be removed because she claimed that “these 'God' quotes made her feel like an 'outsider.' She said, 'I went back to feelings of growing up and being made to go to church'" (p. 182). Since when is it the function of a court to provide psychotherapy? As Judge Judy would say, "Get a life!"
Moore provides many quotes from his critics, revealing them to be ignorant, personally hostile to the Judeo-Christian tradition, and drunk with power. They are not the sort of people who ought to be running the country.
Moore carries his reasoning back to the beginnings of English law, aligns it with our country's founding documents, and reinforces it with Supreme Court and lower court decisions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Only in the latter half of the 20th century, he argues, has judicial activism taken hold in America—to the detriment of our religious heritage, at the cost of our religious liberties, and with dire sociological consequences.
Activist judges have "discovered" spurious constitutional rights to abortion, sodomy, and pornography, while empowering an anti-Christian minority to tyrannize and bully the majority. And they say Roy Moore is a threat.
This book won't convert those who think the ACLU is all that stands between them and a "Christian Taliban," who fear a drop of Scripture more than an ocean of pornography. But it will equip some readers to defend the Judeo-Christian basis of American law, morality, and government. For others it will set an example of determination, patience, and submission to the will of God.
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.