Roy Moore: God's Man?

Moore, Please

What is below is very old. It was written in 2003 at the request of the Editor of the PCA magazine, By Faith. The plan was that I would present one view of Chief Justice Roy Moore's first placing and then refusing when ordered to remove a Ten Commandments monument in the building where the Alabama Supreme Court meets. Dr. D. James Kennedy would present the other view. Because of financial constraints the magazine was not published. However, Dr. Dominic Aquila, who then was the Editor of the online PCANews picked up my article, edited and published it. 

Judge Moore has the distinction of having twice been removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Most recently, it was because he ordered the Clerks of Alabama counties to follow the previously issued orders of the Alabama Supreme Court instructing them not to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples rather than to follow the directions of Federal Courts. 

Judge Moore is now in a runoff for the Republican nomination for the vacated Senate seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, currently held by Luther Strange, appointed by the Governor. Judge Moore is a hero to a lot of Christians. They consider him to be the "Christian candidate." He is also supported by those who want to resist what they see as intrusions of the Federal government and courts into state affairs. Then he is the candidate of those who, despite the President's endorsement of his opponent, see him as the the candidate who will help "drain the swamp" that is D.C.

This Blog post is offered to challenge the view that the Judge Moore is God's man for the Senate. 

Two years ago, overnight on a weekend, Chief Justice Roy Moore had installed in the Alabama Supreme Court building a 5,300-pound monument inscribed with a short form of the Ten Commandments along with other quotations. The inevitable lawsuits were filed by the usual suspects. 

On August 21, 2003, Federal District Judge Myron Thompson ordered the monument removed. He refused to stay his order pending appeal, and the Court of Appeals and United States Supreme Court declined to intervene. Judge Moore has chosen to defy Judge Thompson's order, and appealed to his own reading of American history and the United States Constitution.

Judge Moore's stance has evoked for some images of George Wallace's "standing in the school house door" to prevent blacks from enrolling at the University ofAlabama. This has caused not a little embarrassment for the state and some of her citizens. That Judge Moore has one of those Southern accents Jeff Foxworthy says can reduce your IQ by 100 points and has spoken stridently and repeatedly in public defending his defiance has not helped.

The eight other Justices of the Alabama Supreme Court, seven of whom are Republicans, have overruled Justice Moore and ordered the building manager to remove the monument. Alabama Attorney General, Bill Pryor, a staunch Roman Catholic and a nominee to the federal bench (Democrats have thus far stalled the nomination by filibuster), agrees with Judge Moore that the United States was founded on Christian principles, but insists that Judge Thompson's order must be obeyed. (Now some conservative Christians are calling on the President to withdraw Pryor's nomination.) 

Governor Bob Riley, who has filed briefs supporting Judge Moore, and who is prepared to file another when an appeal goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, also holds that Judge Moore must comply. Now the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which received an ethics complaint against Judge Moore, has suspended him with pay, pending the hearing of the case by the Court of the Judiciary that has power to discipline or remove from office.

The state is stirred up and divided. There are those (a rather small but vociferous minority) who oppose the monument. Others not only support it, but are prepared to keep it at almost any cost, and are sure its removal will mean the pulling out of another foundation stone of the republic. Others, some who are indifferent to the monument and some who favor it, think now Judge Moore has gone too far and agree with Attorney General Pryor who said, "No person, including the Chief Justice of Alabama, is above the law." And, this being Alabama, many are like the Monday caller to the most listened to sports talk show in the state who said that we need to put all this behind us because something really important is coming up this weekend – the start of the college football season.

Many Christians, both within and without the state, are upset. They believe Judge Moore is right in appealing to a higher law, to his own conviction that America is a Christian nation, and to his own reading of the Constitution. They have rallied to him, for they too believe America is a Christian nation. With Judge Moore they see the Ten Commandments Monument as a symbol of that Christian heritage and its removal as another exclusion of God from American life.

But was America ever a "Christian nation?" The intuition of many Christians is to say, "Of course, it was." But this assumption is challengeable. In their 1983 book, The Search for Christian America, Christian scholars Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, and George Marsden argued that "a careful study of the facts of history shows that early America does not deserve to be considered uniquely, distinctly, nor even predominantly Christian, if we mean by the word 'Christian' a state or society reflecting ideals presented in Scripture. There is no lost golden age to which American Christians may return." Those interested in the full argument may consult the book. 

From the perspective of the Constitution it is clear that the United States was not established as a Christian nation. While the freedom of the exercise of religion was guaranteed (an amendment that has been tortuously read to require what it did not require when written – the near total excision of religion from public life), there is no mention of a god, to say nothing of the God of the Bible and his Son, Jesus Christ. 

It may fairly be argued that the culture that gave us the Constitution was far more "Christian" than that of today. Christianity was believed, tolerated, assumed, or considered benign enough by the founders and their fellow citizens, but had they intended to establish a Christian nation, they would have said so. Indeed, our brothers in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (sometimes called "The Covenanters") know that the founders did not found the nation on God, think they should have, and for a long time refused participation in the government or the practice of law just because the nation and its laws were not founded on the Kingship of Jesus.

Whatever one may think about the founding, it is impossible seriously to contend that the United States today is Christian. It seems to me that that several things have turned the nation away from its mildly Protestant consensus. First, there was the influx of Roman Catholic Europeans. These Roman Catholics would hardly agree with the Protestant view of the Ten Commandments. The Roman Catholic version, and hence the numbering of the Commandments, is different. Moreover, Roman Catholics would surely not believe that the images in their churches are what Protestants would say they are – violations of the second commandment. Then Roman Catholics do not think that Sunday sports are forbidden by the fourth commandment. The immigration of Catholics had much to do with the acceptance of Sunday sports in the big cities of the East.

Second, there was the liberalization of Protestantism. Liberalism led not only to the questioning of the facts and doctrines of Christianity, but also to the values and rules of Christianity. The very idea of revealed, timeless law given by God at Sinai is laughable to liberals. 

Third, there is the current wave of immigration that has brought in millions who do not at all acknowledge or worship the God of Christianity. They not only do not in any sense worship the God of Christianity, they also actively worship other gods or worship no God. Add to these all the post-modern historically white Protestants who worship a god of their own imaginings or no god. To this group the God of the Bible and his commandments are nothing.

Fourth, there is emasculated evangelicalism. What seeker-sensitive, post-every-things-ministering churches worship the historic "aweful" Law-Giver God of historic of Protestantism? Which of these declare that man is hopeless and helpless in sin, under the wrath of God? Which proclaim the gospel of Christ, who was born under the law and suffered its penalties? Which teaches the law to restrain the ungodly, to convict sinners and to point them to Christ the Law-Keeper, and to show believers the life of gratitude leading to law-obedience? And to be more specific, where in the PCA is observance of the Sabbath command?

Now we have to ask: What do we really mean to do when we push for Ten Commandments monuments and assert that they are the bases for United Stateslaw? I expect that most think of the "second table of the law." Even with the "second six" there are big questions of how to implement them for a whole state, even one so "Christian" as Alabama. 

But the second table is based on the first. What would we do with those? Would Christians outlaw the worship of other gods? Would they suppress all false worship, even if directed to the true God? (There go some of our seeker churches!) Would they try to forbid any insincerity, thoughtlessness, or superficiality in true worship? (Oops, there go some contemporary services!) Would they close the malls and the stadiums on the Sabbath? We cannot avoid those questions when we assert that this is a Christian country with Christian laws. To do less is to take the name of the Lord our God in vain. 

I think Judge Thompson is wrong. He would have done better not "to make a federal case of it" but rather to have allowed the Supreme Court, legislature, and people of the State of Alabama to decide if they want the Ten Commandments in their state Supreme Court building. Until recently no one thought that such displays in state or federal buildings violated the Constitution. In fact, pictures of Moses and inscriptions of the Ten Commandments abound in WashingtonD.C.Further, the Supreme Court has not ruled that the Ten Commandments constitute a violation of the First Amendment. Yet the judge rules they are illegal in the Alabama Supreme Court Building.

I also think that Judge Moore is wrong. He wrongly asserts that this nation is a Christian nation. He is wrong to stand in defiance of a court order. Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 are timeless instructions that were given to those who lived under a pagan and immoral government that, as Peter warned, would soon turn its powers against Christians. Yet, both Paul and Peter teach submission to the government that is. Judge Moore is now rebelling against the established authority.

What are Christians to do as they sense that their country is "going to hell in a hand basket?" Well, we might try reminding ourselves that we are "citizens of heaven" (Philippians 3:20) and that we are receiving an "unshakeable kingdom" (Hebrews 12:28). 

But what about God's Law? We might try first going back to our heritage. Read the Law and confess our sins against it in worship. Proclaim the Law so as to convict sinners and display the glory of Christ. Teach the Law as God's will for every life redeemed by Christ, filled with the Spirit, and motivated by love. And, we might try keeping it. I expect a multitude of law-loving, law-obeying Christians (on whose hearts the Law is written by the Spirit) will make a lot bigger impact than Tablets of Stone sitting in the Supreme Court building in Montgomery.


  1. Thank you for writing this. I am not on FB to repost this - I am going to share it out the old fashioned way in email. I am an Alabama voter and I agree completely with what you have observed about Roy Moore. He will be an embarrassment to us if he is elected.

  2. God sure has a way of picking assholes to fulfill his plans for America.


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