Aug 25, 2003
Last Thursday, August 21, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Ray Moore appeared on the Courthouse steps in Montgomery. In front of cheering supporters, he vowed to fight the removal of a 5,280-pound rock with a plaque of the Ten Commandments from the State Supreme Court lobby. Moore said, "I've been ordered to do something I cannot do; I cannot violate my conscience," and added, "To do my duty, I must obey God!"
Moore took this stance after the other eight judges of the Alabama Supreme Court agreed with a federal district court ruling and ordered the removal of the rock.
This is nothing more than another Alabama politician's appeal to reactionary ideas to cover up the deplorable conditions in his state. (The most famous example is former governor Wallace's standing on schoolhouse steps, vowing to fight integration.) What better way to keep people's minds off REAL issues in Alabama – one of the poorest states in the country – than by using religious superstition as a rallying cry?
Moore argues that the rock, which has the biblical ten commandments carved on it, is a reminder of the biblical basis of U.S. laws.
How could the laws of any country that calls itself civilized possibly be based on the Bible, a book written thousands of years ago which condones slavery, the killing of infants, and wife-beating, among other atrocities?
Only if that country is not really civilized. In fact, this society has used the Bible and the trappings of religion to get people to accept a whole slew of abominations, including slavery until the later 1800s and Jim Crow and lynching into the 1960s, the death penalty today.
What's needed is not more superstition, mysticism and ideas based on slave-holding societies, but just the opposite – a scientific view of the world.
Even reactionary politicians ought to know that places like Alabama benefitted when advances in public sanitation helped make diseases like malaria much less prevalent than they used to be. Those advances were won because researchers working in the fields of medicine and public health looked at the world from a materialist, that is, scientific, standpoint. The same thing is true in every field.
Today a politician like Judge Moore is using the Bible to position himself to run for some statewide position. Calling on people to stand up and rally around the Bible, he banks on them forgetting what he himself has done over the years sitting on the Alabama courts upholding the interests of the wealthy against the working people of the state.