August 29, 2003

The Light of the World
by Donald G. Mashburn

The Ten Commandments are gone from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. A crew, acting on the order of eight justices of the Alabama State Supreme Court, removed a 5,280-pound block of granite inscribed with the Ten Commandments.

The monument was installed two years ago by Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, to acknowledge God and to recognize the historical significance of the Ten Commandments in modern law.

Moore was sued by a coalition of anti-religion groups advocating “separation of church and state,” although no sensible person would associate a block of granite displaying the Ten Commandments with the “establishment” of a religion.

It’s not news to Christians that Christianity increasingly is coming under fire. More and more, that fire is coming from the courts, which should be the protector, not the persecutor, of religious freedom. If anyone doubts the anti-religionist tilt of the courts, a review of the Roy Moore case should erase them.

Columnist Paul Greenberg, writing of Moore’s legal battle, referred to Jesus’ words regarding charitable deeds. Jesus said, “[W]hen you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet ... as the hypocrites do ... that they may have glory from men. I say to you, they have their reward” (Matthew 6:2).

Greenberg feels that Moore, in his public battle, was risking little, and has his “reward” from men. But that’s wrong. Moore’s eight associate justices overruled their chief justice and ordered the removal of the granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments, and rebuked their chief.

Then Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a six-count judicial ethics violation charge against Moore and suspended him for at least 10 days.

Moore will be prosecuted, for the alleged ethics violations, before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, which is a court convened for the adjudication of cases against judges. The court could permanently relieve Moore of his judicial duties.

Moore paid a rather steep price defending the Ten Commandments. If his treatment was a “reward,” then they have a strange reward system in the South’s judiciary.

How many contemporary Christians would stand by their convictions as staunchly as Moore has? How would we hold up if we were opposed by, say, the ACLU, the mainstream media, and our fellow workers?

We need to recognize that these anti-religion groups are opposed to all references to God in public life. They care nothing about our Constitutional right to the “free exercise” of religion. They ignore the words, “Nature’s God,” “All men are created equal, …endowed by their Creator,” “Supreme Judge of the World” and “divine Protection,” in our Bill of Rights; and “the Year of our Lord” in our Constitution.

They even ignore – although they must seethe inwardly – that in our nation’s capital, there are numerous inscriptions, paintings and plaques acknowledging and honoring God. They prefer easy targets – for now – like state offices, state courts and public schools. But basically they just want God out of sight, and to silence those who dare worship publicly.

We shouldn’t be shocked if we come under fire for our faith. The apostle Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” He added, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God” (I Peter 4:12, 16).

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world,” and “Let your light ... shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

We may never face removal from our jobs and censure for defending our faith or God’s word. But if we do, let us be willing to be the “Light of the world,” and not part of the growing darkness spreading across this nation.