J.J. Goldberg

Judge: First Amendment for Christians Only

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his Ten Commandments memorial, 2003.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, known for his defiance of federal church-state separation laws, is under fire for arguing in a speech that the First Amendment only protects religions that worship “the God of the Holy Scriptures,” by which he appeared to mean Christianity.

The amendment’s mention of “religion,” Moore said, was meant to denote “the duty we owe to the Creator and the manner of discharging it,” quoting James Madison. (Ironically, the quote is from a 1785 Madison memorandum in favor of church-state separation.)

Moore continued: “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures on which this nation was founded.”

Moore’s remark came during a January 17 address to the Pastors for Life Luncheon in Jackson, Mississippi. His appearance gained little attention at the time, beyond local coverage in Jackson that focused mainly on his lengthy attacks on same-sex marriage. On May 2, however, a video of his remarks was posted on the news site RawStory.com.

The report brought an immediate protest from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR called on Alabama’s governor and attorney general to “repudiate” Moore’s statement and “reaffirm the constitutional rights of all that state’s citizens.”

In the speech Moore also attacked abortion and same-sex marriage, drawing criticism from the gay rights news site TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com.

‘Christianity Only’: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore at Pastors for Life Luncheon, Jackson, Miss., January 17, 2014:

Moore came to national attention in 2003 when, as the state’s chief justice, he defied a federal court order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments that he had put in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. That led to his removal from office that November by the state’s judicial disciplinary body, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. He was reelected chief justice in 2012, following two unsuccessful bids for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

In March 2014 Moore was one of two dissenting justices in a 7-2 state supreme court dismissal of a demand that the state certify the birth certificates of presidential candidates. In it the court threw out a 2012 lawsuit that sought to have the Alabama attorney general certify candidates’ birth certificates before allowing them on the ballot. The suit was originally aimed at having President Obama removed from the ballot of the 2012 election. Moore was one of two justices to argue in favor of hearing the suit.

In April he came under attack from Americans United for Separation of Church and State over a concurring opinion he wrote in an abortion case. In the case the court ruled that women who use chemical substances during pregnancy may be charged with child endangerment. In his concurrence Moore appeared to argue that American law is properly rooted in Christian theology.

Moore appeared May 2 as the principal speaker at the Pierce County Prayer Breakfast in Tacoma, Washington, where he drew cheers and a standing ovation after calling on the nation to “recognize the sovereignty of God.” His appearance was marked by controversy when Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, who traditionally appears at the breakfast and welcomes the attendees, stayed away along with the entire city council to protest Moore’s outspoken opposition to gay marriage.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Tacoma, Ten Commandments, Roy Moore, Separation of Church and State, Pierce County Prayer Breakfast, Pastors for Life Luncheon, Pastors for Life, Mississippi, Marilyn Strickland, James Madison, CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Alabama, Alabama Chief Justice

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.