Roy Moore was expected to obey

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Any opinion &045;&045; and trust us, there will be plenty of them &045;&045; on the ouster of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore must be guarded with a tamed tongue and fervent thought.

Throughout America, and even here in West Alabama, the opinions about Moore and a judicial panel that unanimously voted to impeach the chief justice will range everywhere from mild to hypocritical.

Some will argue that a judicial panel in the Bible Belt state of Alabama finally turned the corner and joined the rest of these United States. They’ll tell you that God has no place anywhere in public. They’ll ask you to believe the mission of the American Civil Liberties Union. They may even tell you the ACLU stands for the real principles of our Founding Fathers.

Email newsletter signup

Others will argue that Nov. 13, 2003, marked the end of these United States. They’ll warn of the second coming within the year. They’ll ask you to believe that people like Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor have rejected God and are bound for the pits of hell. They may even tell you to expect plagues and destruction in our state.

We believe the case involving Moore tangled the thoughtful strings of all Alabamians, much less all Americans.

A recent survey indicated that Alabamians supported Moore in his belief that we should acknowledge God in public. That same survey concluded that citizens didn’t necessarily agree with the way Moore handled himself in light of a ruling from a federal judge.

As you read opinions about Moore and the events of Thursday, we believe all Alabamians should consider exactly what this ruling meant.

U.S. Judge Myron Thompson, who ruled that Moore had to remove the monument from the Alabama Judicial Building, made a decision earlier this year that dealt with the constitutionality of placing a monument with the Ten Commandments in any government building. Moore vowed to appeal Thompson’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the highest court in the land refused to hear the case.

After Thompson’s decision, and after Moore was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court for failure to abide by a federal judge’s ruling, the case took on a new life. Once Moore was suspended &045;&045; and eventually tried by a judicial panel &045;&045; the focus of the case no longer centered on the Ten Commandments or God’s role in government. Rather, the case focused on Moore and his actions.

To put that in different terms, this case could have just as well been about a supreme court justice who failed to pay a speeding ticket. If that justice was told by a federal judge to pay the ticket, and still the justice refused, the case no longer would center on the speeding ticket. Rather, it would focus on the justice who failed to obey the law.

In essence, that’s what the Roy Moore’s case became during the final months of his fight against the federal courts. It wasn’t about the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t about God. Rather, it was about a man who didn’t obey the ruling of another man who ranked higher in the judicial system of the United States.

As you hear opinions about the meaning of an Alabama judicial panel’s ruling, take caution in what crosses your ears. Take more caution in the beliefs you form.

There aren’t many Alabamians who don’t believe this state could stand a few more Sundays in church. Whether it be teachers, politicians or police officers, you’d be hard pressed to find a citizen who doesn’t believe that our moral foundation &045;&045; or the lack thereof &045;&045; plays an enormous role in the health of our society.

The faith of people in Demopolis and West Alabama cannot be questioned after the ruling against Roy Moore. Just like every person in this state, Moore is just a man. His mission to put God back into public life is a valid and noble one. His tactics, as many have learned in the past week, obviously failed the test of our state’s judicial system.

In terms of Biblical principles, we are taught to obey authority. In this case, Moore chose to disobey, and he was punished for his decision.

In terms of societal principles, we must fight to keep faith and spirituality relevant. Doing so requires a tamed tongue and fervent thought.