MONTGOMERY, Ala. More than 4,000 Christians gathered at the Alabama State Capitol to show their support for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his decision not to move the Ten Commandments monument.
Moore, in an unscheduled appearance reminded the supporters that the rally was about God and not him.
"I will pass away, as every politician and every pastor will. But the laws of God will remain forever," Moore said.
[The issue] is "about the acknowledgment of God upon which this nation and our laws are founded. ... It's time for Christians to take a stand," he continued. After his speech, bodyguards led Moore into the capitol building.
Two years ago, Moore placed a 5,300 pound Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the judicial building. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered the monument to be removed by Aug 20 on the grounds that the display violates the constitutional amendment to separate church and state. However Moore refused to move the display and has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court despite facing fines and jail time.
Other speakers at the assembly included Liberty University chancellor Jerry Falwell, former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes and former Constitution Party presidential nominee Howard Phillips. One of the speakers praised Moore as a modern-day Daniel.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson sent a letter of support for Moore, while D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries sent a box full of 150,000 signatures supporting the chief justice.
Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., told those gathered that "when God gives you a champion, get behind him. Judge Moore is a champion, so get behind him. Let's walk with him to victory. We may visit him in jail, and [that] may encourage a few hundred more judges to do the same thing."
Falwell said that before flying to Alabama he was asked by someone why he was supporting a person who was "breaking the law."
"I said, 'Did you ask Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that question?' He said, 'I get it,'" Falwell said. "Civil disobedience is the right of every one of us when we feel that breaking man's law enables us to keep God's law."
Falwell read a letter written by Methodist founder John Wesley to abolitionist William Wilberforce in the late 1700s. Wesley warned Wilberforce about the dangers of speaking out against slavery but concluded, "If God be for you, who can be against you?" Falwell said he was in Montgomery to tell Moore the same thing.
"We need a spiritual renaissance and we need it now," he said.
The rally was sponsored by Vision America, a conservative organization co-chaired by former Southern Baptist pastor Rick Scarborough. Falwell, in fact, called Vision America the Moral Majority of the 21st century.
"This is not the end of this movement," Scarborough said, reminding the crowd that much of the civil rights movement began in Montgomery. "It is the birth of this movement."
After the rally, Scarborough said the issue is fat greater than one man or one monument.
"It is not about a monument," he said. "It is not about the Ten Commandments. It is about the ruling ... that said a state cannot acknowledge God."
He and other Christians are not "trying to force" their beliefs down "somebody's throat," Scarborough said, but they are "demanding as a society that the state" allow the acknowledgment of God.
Some Christian groups agreed with Scarborough and promised even civil disobedience to keep the monument.
"We must be able to acknowledge God, or there's no difference between us and the former Soviet Union, said Scarborough.