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Ala. religious leaders oppose Judge Moore's commandments display. (People & Events).

A diverse array of state and national religious leaders has come out in opposition to Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's display of the Ten Commandments at the state's highest court.

In a legal brief filed Aug. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, three national organizations and 42 state clergy from various denominations objected to Moore's government-sponsored religious monument at the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Americans United, which is cosponsoring a federal court challenge to Moore's display, hailed the filing.

"Religion doesn't need government's help, and most clergy know that," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This brief demonstrates that many thoughtful religious leaders in Alabama disagree strongly with Justice Moore's misguided religious crusade."

Lynn continued, "These religious leaders understand that the Ten Commandments belong in our houses of worship, not our houses of law."

The brief was filed by the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based group that promotes religious liberty. Alabama signers include clergy from the Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ and Jewish traditions.

In addition to the Baptist Joint Committee, two other national organizations also signed the brief: the Anti-Defamation League and The Interfaith Alliance.

The religious leaders' brief asserts, "By displaying the Ten Commandments in the State Judicial Building, Justice Moore has usurped the role of private individuals and faith communities in shaping their own religious practices and views. Government efforts to promote religion drain religious practices and beliefs of their spiritual significance, thereby deprecating, rather than revitalizing, religion.

"Rather than strengthening religion," the brief concludes, "the display undermines religious interests: it shows disrespect for the freedom of conscience, tends to degrade and corrupt religion, and engenders social conflict and religious discord. Religion has thrived in the United States precisely because it has been left to the private sphere. Only by preserving this healthy separation between church and state will religion continue to prosper."

Moore was elected chief justice in 2000 after gaining notoriety for his refusal to remove a hand-carved Ten Commandments plaque from his courtroom in Etowah County where he served as a local judge. On the evening of July 31, 2001, Moore waited until the Alabama Judicial Building was empty and then helped workers bring a two-and-a-half-ton granite sculpture of the Ten Commandments into the lobby.

Americans United and the Alabama affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against Moore arguing that the display violates the separation of church and state. The Glassroth v. Moore case is expected to go to trial this month.
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Title Annotation:Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1U6AL
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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