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Flashpoints USA with Bryant Gumbel and Gwen Ifill Photo: Bryant Gumbel and Gwen Ifill
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GOD AND COUNTRY - 1.27.04
In Focus  :  Religion and the Law
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Flashpoints USA with Bryant Gumbel and Gwen Ifill is an innovative public affairs series from PBS that brings together both compelling examinations of critical issues and a dynamic pairing of two of the most respected names in journalism.


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Roy Moore Interview
Video: Pledge Case
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God in America Religion and the Law The Politics of God


Gwen Ifill interviews Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Gwen Ifill:
Let's go back to the debate that brought you here with us tonight. You fought over your entire career - and not just in this latest episode - to have the Ten Commandments posted in a public place, in this case a huge monument. Do you believe that, in the end, with all of the back and forth about that monument, that you were removed from office because you believe in God?

Roy Moore:
Well, that's the - the removal from office and removal of the Ten Commandments were two different issues. The latest about removal from office - absolutely. I was asked three times directly in the hearing before the board of the judiciary whether or not I would continue to acknowledge God if I were to resume my position as chief justice. And I said I would. And that is exactly what the attorney general of the State of Alabama asked.

Gwen Ifill:
But they're - they're two different issues, but they're tied to the same thing. One arises from the other, wouldn't you say? So, do you think that the whole dispute over the Ten Commandments, which was your way of expressing your belief in God - you think that there was an anti-religious element in the efforts to remove you?

Roy Moore:
No, I think that we've got a basic discrepancy here between the rule of law versus the rule of man. In this case, the rule of man controlled, because a judge departed from the basic meaning of the Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The acknowledgement of God was the very reason for the existence of this country. Thomas Jefferson, right here in this - this place that we sit, said that we were entitled to exist because of the "laws of Nature and of Nature's God." He said that it was God who gave us our life, liberty and allowed us to pursue our happiness; and the only role of government was to secure those rights for us. But today, government is taking those rights from us, pretending that it gives us our rights. Indeed, those rights come from God, and it was recognized throughout our history as such.

Gwen Ifill:
In a very diverse society such as the one we're living in now, a whole lot of people who are people of faith don't ascribe to the Ten Commandments. If you are a person of the Muslim faith and you're walking through your courthouse and see this slab with the Ten Commandments on it, that does- -- is that off-putting? Does that bother you that someone who believes differently than you are -

Roy Moore:
It would bother me if a judge told me how I had to believe. But to represent the God upon which this nation was founded - let's face it. Does it offend someone of the Muslim faith for the President of the United States to place his hand on the Holy Bible and not the Qur'an? No, because this country was not founded upon the Qur'an. It was not founded upon a Muslim faith. It was founded upon a Christian faith and the acknowledgement of God of the holy scriptures.

Gwen Ifill:
When I listen to you talk, you sound almost like a preacher, rather than a judge.

Roy Moore:
Well, I think I -- as a judge, you must recognize the moral foundation of the law, and that is to recognize God. You must recognize the purpose of the First Amendment and why the Constitution exists by separating the powers of the various branches. It exists because man was a fallen creature - is a fallen creature, and those powers had to be restricted. And our forefathers certainly recognized this.

Gwen Ifill:
You know, separating the laws - it's one thing to separate the different branches of government, but why not separate the Church's role from the state's role?

Roy Moore:
I agree with you. The Church's role should be separated from the state's role. That is the definition of separation of church and state. But separation of church and state was never meant to separate God and government.

Gwen Ifill:
Where does this go? You are still fighting for your job. Do you just continue that fight? Do you take it to a broader stage? What do you do?

Roy Moore:
Well, I think that we have to continue to fight for what we believe. But when I was chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I was sworn under a constitution which said the justice system was established invoking the favor and guidance of almighty God. And no federal judge has the authority to come in and say, "You can't acknowledge God."

Gwen Ifill:
Thank you very much, Justice Moore.

Roy Moore:
Thank you very much, Gwen.




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