NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–If Southern Baptists attending the 2005 SBC Pastors’ Conference had any problems with the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court over a 1993 federal court order to remove the now-famous Ten Commandments monument from a state building, it wasn’t evident June 20.
Roy Moore began his address to sustained applause and left the platform to even more hearty applause, eventually returning to the stage to stand beside Pastors’ Conference President Steve Gaines to lead an impromptu and spirited rendition of “God Bless America” in the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.
Moore was removed as chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court in November 2003 by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for defying a federal judge’s order to remove the 5,200-pound monument he had arranged to be placed in a public area in the state court building.
The monument, which coincidentally was featured in Broadman & Holman Publishers’ booth in the exhibit hall at the Southern Baptist Convention, also had other notable historical quotes engraved on it. B&H is the publisher of Moore’s new book, “So Help Me God.”
Admitting he was “not a preacher,” but instead a teacher, Moore proceeded to give conference-goers a lesson in U.S. history as it relates to his ouster from the bench.
“The issue was not about a monument, it was not about religion and it was not about sneaking [the monument] in, in the middle of the night,” Moore said.
“It is about the acknowledgement of God,” he insisted.
“Have we forgotten God?” Moore asked. “When those 56 men met in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, there was no embarrassment about God; there was no confusion; there was no attempt to avoid the issue.”
American’s founding fathers “knew God was sovereign,” Moore continued. “That faith inspired our nation and was our guiding principle for many, many years.”
Warning that the nation is suffering under “judicial tyranny,” Moore said, “The issue is simply an hypocrisy of the courts.” Judges take their oaths and swear in witnesses with the words, “So help me God,” but deny those who are in government service the opportunity to acknowledge God, Moore said.
“There are consequences to what is happening in America today,” he said. The separation of church and state, a concept that has no basis in any U.S. founding documents — including the Constitution — does not mean a “separation of God and government,” Moore said.
In fact, the doctrine is “biblically based,” he continued, noting that in the Israelite nation God established the priestly and government functions to be separate — with the tribe of Levi handling the role of priests and the tribe of Judah in the role of civil leadership.
“God chose two separate bloodlines to keep those jurisdictions separate,” Moore explained. “The separation of church and state mandates an acknowledgement of God.”
Jefferson did not intend to deny God in his oft-quoted letter to Danbury Baptists, Moore said. The letter contained a reference to a “wall of separation between church and state.” In the same letter, Jefferson asked the Baptists to pray for him, Moore said, noting that Jefferson often attended church services in the U.S. Capitol.
Historically, Moore explained, the First Amendment does not mean Americans cannot acknowledge God in a government context, noting that on the very day Congress adopted the First Amendment, legislators introduced a resolution encouraging the U.S. president to establish a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”
“The first thing they did was acknowledge God,” Moore said.
“You should submit to government, that is the ordination of God, but when the government denies the God who ordained it,” civil disobedience is permissible, Moore said. “There is no higher power than God. The powers that be are ordained of God.”
In America the same climate exists as in the time of Jeremiah, Moore said. Schools and “political institutions” are suffering, he said, because “we’ve tried to construct them without God.”
“We have been deceived by a government that tells us we can’t worship God; [that is] contradictory to history, contradictory to law and contradictory to logic,” Moore said.
“It’s time for Christians to take a stand,” he concluded. “Can He count on you? Will we be able to say we have fought the good fight, have finished the course, kept the faith?”