Christian radio host James Dobson said federal judges are “determined to shove their beliefs down our throats” by removing a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building’s rotunda.
The internationally syndicated talk show host joined more than a thousand supporters of suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore on Thursday to pray and rally for the return of the justice’s monument.
Dobson said the fight is about “an unelected, non-accountable, arrogant, imperialistic judiciary determined to shove their beliefs down our throats.”
A group that sued to have the monument removed said Dobson and other religious leaders were trying to fan the United States into a full-scale culture war.
“It won’t work,” said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Very few people have any interest in starting political fights with their neighbors over religion.”
Moore skipped the rally, saying he wants the fight to be about the public acknowledgment of God — not about him.
A federal judge ruled last year that the monument, when it sat in the building’s rotunda, violated the Constitution’s ban against government promotion of religion. Moore refused to comply with the order to move it, was overruled by his eight colleagues on the court, and was suspended. The monument was wheeled out of sight Wednesday.
Moore said he hopes for a final ruling on the issue from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor has defended the justices’ decision to avoid the state being fined. Moore has been critical of them all, as well as of Gov. Bob Riley.
Asked in the interview Thursday why he expected others to disobey the law, which led to his own suspension under judicial ethics charges, Moore said: “I was saddened and dismayed that state officials were so anxious to follow the dictates of an unlawful order and move the monument into a hallway 50 feet away to hide its contents, to hide the truth.”
Scores of supporters keeping a vigil outside the building were dismayed when the granite monument was rolled to a back room. But their leaders said their prayer sessions and rallies would continue into next week.
On Thursday, rally speakers under a hot sun promised political retaliation.
“I don’t think it’s nearly as hot for us here as it’s going to get in the political climate of Alabama for all of those who have cooperated with this federal judge,” said former presidential candidate Alan Keyes.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson of Montgomery, who ruled last year that the monument violated the Constitution, has scheduled a Friday conference call to determine if the state is now in compliance with his order.