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It's not about history. It's not about religion. It's about the first principle of America's now 228-year experiment in ordered liberty—the acknowledgement of God.

When Roy Moore placed his granite monument in the Alabama state courthouse, his intention was not, as Ted Haggard suggests ("Decalogue Debacle," April CT), to offer the nation a lesson in "religion's—and specifically, Judeo-Christian religions'—contributions to our history."

Nor was Moore endorsing a religion—as alleged by the ACLU and now Haggard in his attempt to draw lessons from the events in Montgomery. Moore's point, made clear from the start, was to acknowledge God and his sovereignty. Moore said so when he unveiled the monument. The trial judge said so in open court, and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor said so during the trial to remove Moore from office.

Just minutes before the red draping was pulled from the polished granite cube bearing the Ten Commandments, Moore made his purpose clear. "May this day," he said on August 1, 2001, "mark the beginning of the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and a return to the knowledge of God in our land."

U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson said on the last day of Moore's 2002 trial, "I think I'll start my opinion, 'The issue here is: Can the state acknowledge God?'"

And then-Attorney General Pryor also addressed the heart of the matter. He asked Moore at trial whether, "If you resume your duties as chief justice after this proceeding, you will continue to acknowledge God …"

The issue raised by Roy Moore is not how best to memorialize America's religious past but whether we may still do as the Founders did in 1776, when they grounded the case for liberty in theology. The Declaration ...

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In the Magazine

July 2004

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