SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – In an effort to educate the public on the biblical roots of America’s foundation, a county commissioner in Alabama has proposed that three monuments be placed at his local courthouse, including one of the Ten Commandments.
“What I’m trying to do is erect a monument of historical documents,” Jackson County Commissioner Tim Guffey (R) told AL.com. “It’s the Constitution, the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence. I feel like that’s what this country was founded on. These documents helped America become the greatest country in history.”
He said that he believes that America’s forefathers used Scripture as a basis for the founding documents.
“If you look at the documents that were written—the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence—they are all stemmed from the word of God, from the Ten Commandments,” Guffey added to local television station WHNT.
The commissioner stated that he would like to motivate residents to research the founding of the nation and learn more about America’s history.
“They don’t teach this at school anymore, and a person would have to go back and research and study each one of those men’s writings to find out that that’s what established them. That’s what gave [the Founding Fathers] the inspiration to write the greatest Constitution this world has ever seen,” he explained. “I feel like taking that document out (the Ten Commandments), if that document wasn’t there to guide them, then our Constitution wouldn’t be what it is today.”
But Guffey outlines that he proposed the monuments solely for historical reasons and not religious ones.
“[The Founding Fathers'] feeling was that God helped them build the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “If you read all of the writings of John Adams, Patrick Henry, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, they speak about how [Scripture] was their foundation that helped them interpret and write a great Constitution.”
But in a poll conducted by AL.com, local residents overwhelmingly opposed the placement of the Commandments, with 70 percent rejecting the monument and 30 percent voting in favor. Over 1,600 votes were cast on the matter.
As previously reported, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore came under fire in 2001 and was ultimately removed from the bench because of a Ten Commandments monument that he displayed in the state Supreme Court rotunda.
Soon after its installment, Moore was slammed with two lawsuits from three separate groups: the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Civil rights attorney Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center emerged as the central opponent to Moore’s display, arguing that the chief justice “placed this monument here to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men.”
Following a battle in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the monument was unconstitutional as it violated the Establishment Clause, District Court Judge Myron Thompson then ordered Moore to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse rotunda within fifteen days. Moore refused, but the monument was later moved to a room that was not open for public viewing.
Days later, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint against Moore. His position as Chief Justice was suspended, and he was placed on trial. During his hearing in November 2003, Moore firmly defended his decision to place the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, stating, “Without God there can be no ethics.”
However, the assistant state attorney general argued that Moore’s defiance would have an adverse impact on how others treated court orders. On August 23, 2003, a unanimous panel of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Judge Moore from the bench.
Moore was restored to his position by popular vote during the November 2012 election and again serves as chief justice today.
“We’ve got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some Scripture or is backed by Scripture,” Moore stated in a speech on the origin of law and justice following his re-installation.