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Ala. chief justice defends placement of Ten Commandments

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–A case that will decide if a Ten Commandments monument will be allowed to remain in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building began Oct. 15 with famed civil rights attorney Morris Dees pitted against Alabama’s chief justice, Roy Moore.

Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, represents three Alabama attorneys who filed suit against Moore after the avowed Christian judge had a 5,300-pound granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments placed in the judicial building. Americans United for Separation of Church and State also was involved in filing the lawsuit.

Moore testified Oct. 16 that he believes the Ten Commandments are the moral foundation of law. He referenced the definition of the word “moral” as meaning “those things that are from God.”

On Oct. 17, Dees attempted to show that Chief Justice Moore has a close relationship with D. James Kennedy’s Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries.

Moore acknowledged in federal court a statement read by Dees that “Coral Ridge Ministries has been an immense help in the long battle to acknowledge God.”

Coral Ridge Ministries had exclusive rights to film the making of the monument and its installation during the night of July 31, 2001. Kennedy’s ministry also coordinated a fundraising activity for Moore’s defense fund.

A spokesperson for Moore denied that Kennedy or Coral Ridge Ministries has influenced his decisions. He is “a very independent man,” the spokesperson told the Montgomery Advertiser. “He is not the puppet of any church.”

Dees argued that the case is about the separation of church and state, and the testimony goes toward establishing the relationship between Moore and the church.

Moore is a Baptist layman who came into the national spotlight for fighting to display the Ten Commandments in a county courthouse. He was elected chief justice in 2000.

“When I ran for the office of chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I made a pledge to restore the moral foundation of law,” he said in a June 2002 interview, voicing hope for “the beginning of the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and a return to the knowledge of God in our land.”

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