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Court rules on 10 Commandments

Federal court strikes down Ten Commandments display at Alabama Supreme Court

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's religious crusade dealt legal setback


A press release dated November 18, 2002, from Americans United for Separation of Church and State

You can also read the New York Times report.

If you're interested in finding positive ways of teaching about the Ten Commandments, check out a listing of resources provided by the Rev. Bruce Gillette of First Presbyterian Church, Pitman, NJ.

A federal court in Alabama today struck down display of a Ten Commandments monument at the state supreme court building in Montgomery, declaring that the religious sculpture violates the First Amendment's church-state separation provisions.

U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson ruled that the two-ton granite sculpture of the Ten Commandments must be removed from the state Judicial Building. The monument was placed in the building's lobby in July of 2001 on orders from Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore has been crusading to have government endorse the Ten Commandments for years. As a state judge in Etowah County, he adorned his courtroom with a hand-carved Ten Commandments plaque. Elected chief justice in 2000, Moore vowed to display the Decalogue at the Judicial Building as well.

"This ruling is a big setback to Roy Moore's religious crusade," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, which cosponsored the litigation. "It's high time Moore learned that the source of U.S. law is the Constitution, not the Bible."

Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit against Moore on behalf of local residents who opposed the religious display on government property. The case, Glassroth v. Moore, has drawn national attention.

Lynn noted that the lawsuit was not an attack on the Ten Commandments. "Many Americans revere this moral code," said Lynn, a United Church of Christ minister. "However, it is not the job of government to single out one religious code and hold it up as the state's favorite. Promoting the Ten Commandments is a task for our houses of worship, not government officials."

Judge Thompson said today that the religious display "violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment" and ordered Moore to remove the monument within 30 days.

Moore has received backing from national Religious Right leaders, chiefly from Florida TV preacher D. James Kennedy. Kennedy has raised money for Moore's defense and even sold a video of Moore supervising placement of the Ten Commandments sculpture in the building on the evening of July 31, 2001. Moore waited until the building was empty and then had the 2,000-pound sculpture brought in.

Moore did not consult with the other justices of the court before taking the action. He later told the Los Angeles Times, "I'm the highest legal authority in the state, and I wanted it there."

Ayesha Khan, Americans United Legal Director and lead counsel in the case, said, "Today's decision protects religious liberty for everyone in Alabama. It affirms that the courts of Alabama will give equal justice to persons of all religious faiths."


Read the Court's decision

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Contact: Joseph Conn, Rob Boston or Steve Benen 202-466-3234 telephone 202-466-2587 fax


GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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