Honor Thy First Amendment (October 2003)

The Alabama Freethought Association, a Foundation chapter, held a press conference on Aug. 20, 2003, in front of the Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., urging Judge Roy Moore to obey the law and remove the Ten Commandments monument from the building. The chapter also spoke about its interest in holding Moore financially accountable for the costly and unnecessary legal battle at taxpayers’ expense. The chapter and Foundation member Gloria Hershiser originally sued Moore when, as a county judge, he first put up a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom and held prayers before jurors in Gadsden, Ala.

The chapter won the prominent lawsuit, but it was later thrown out of court on a bizarre technicality. Their news conference was covered by a variety of national and regional media. In addition to Pat Cleveland, Hank Shiver and Dr. George Whatley (see texts below), speakers included: attorneys David Gespass and Cathy Johnson, and Al Faulkenberry. Al, a Gadsden resident, publicly objected as a juror to being asked to pray by Moore. Moore defied a court order to remove the monument by Aug. 20. The monument was finally removed on Aug. 27. By Pat Cleveland Welcome and thank you for coming.

Today is a special day. I am the director of the Alabama Freethought Association, a chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. In this country, our Alabama and United States Constitutions guarantee freedom from religion. If you cannot have freedom from religion, then freedom of religion could not apply. Today we should get to witness Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore obey the court orders, to remove the Ten Commandments marker from the Alabama Supreme Court, just as he expects those who come before him to obey his orders.

Seven years ago we were plaintiffs who objected to Moore’s courtroom prayer–a clear violation of church/state separation. Over the years the court costs have mounted. I feel the burden of paying for all of these court expenses should fall on Judge Roy Moore personally, for he is the person responsible for this ongoing pursuit to act as if he is above the law. I support his right to have the monument in his home or his church, but not in my courthouse. I am here today to see the court order obeyed. Alabama lawmakers should pass a law that any judge who defies the law and violates the oath of his office, costing taxpayers monies, be impeached.

By Hank Shiver

This is an excerpt.

The Preamble to the Constitution of the Confederate States: “We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity–invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God–do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.” This is the constitution of the slave holders who wanted no part of religious or racial freedom.

To the Southerner, God ordained slavery for the white Christian. The Preamble to the Alabama State Constitution, 1901: “We, the people of the State of Alabama, in order to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, 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.” The State of Alabama revised the Confederate Constitution for its preamble. Judge Moore is getting his divine inspiration from the slave holders of the Confederacy.

The Preamble to the US Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.”

The United States needed no god to be great. Is it possible that the people of Alabama might take a hint? By George B. Whatley, M.D. This is an excerpt. In the rotunda of this judicial building Chief Justice Roy Moore has placed a huge monument containing the Ten Commandments, which he and his supporters, Christians and Jews, claim are the foundation of the moral and civil laws of these United States of America. He has been advised by our civil courts that the presence of this monument in the rotunda is unconstitutional and has been ordered to remove it. He says he will not obey this court order. Let’s see how magnificent and all pervasive these ten rules are:

1. I am the Lord thy god, thou shalt have no other gods before me. 

2. Thou shalt not make any graven image or any likeness of anything that exists; but if you do, thou shalt not bow down to them or serve them for I am a jealous god. 

3. Thou shalt not take my name in vain. 

4. Remember the sabbath to keep it holy; no work is to be done by man or beast or guests of man. These four are God telling Israel how he wants Israel to worship him; they have nothing to do with Christians or with our federal and state constitutions.

5. Honor thy father and thy mother that you may live a long time. Any sociologist will tell you that this one would have many permissible exceptions.

6. Thou shalt not kill. 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

8. Thou shalt not steal. 

9, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Numbers 6, 7, 8, and 9 are covered by our civil laws requiring no deity.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, his male slaves, his female slaves, his house, his fields, his ox or his ass or anything that is your neighbors’.

Number 10 is totally unenforceable by human law and is just as unenforceable by God’s law.

Freedom From Religion Foundation