The deadline to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state's judicial building is drawing near. If the monument is not removed Wednesday the state faces possible daily fines of up to $5,000 a day.
It's unclear whether anyone else will step in and remove the monument for Judge Roy Moore, who placed the monument in its present location. If someone else decides to intervene, it would most likely be the attorney general or the Alabama Supreme Court's associate justices that make the decision. Those justices have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to again discuss the issue.
According to the Mobile Register, Attorney General Bill Pryor said Tuesday at a meeting in Florida, "I expect it to be removed very soon." The online version of the paper goes on to quote Pryor as saying, "I don't want to speculate on how or exactly when it is going to happen. I will be advising the appropriate state officials on how to proceed, and I expect they will do so."
Judge Moore's supporters say they're standing by him no matter what. And those same supporters are expected to fill the judicial plaza Wednesday with news conferences and prayer vigils and they plan to stay in place until they know the monument is safe.
The most recent prayerful demonstration got started early Wednesday morning as supporters lit candles, sang and raised their prayers to the heavens, asking God to intervene in the fight. About 45 people, from Alabama and from across the nation, showed up for this first prayer vigil just after midnight. Some members of the group say they have promised to fast for the next 24 hours.
Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition says, "Throughout scripture when there was a time of crisis, spiritual leaders would call Israel to a time of fasting and prayer. We believe that this is such a time."
Throughout the day Wednesday, the vigil keepers say they will be by the monument's side round the clock. They say they'll kneel at the door of the judicial building to prevent the monument's removal . The monument protectors are certain God is on their side, and they intend to make it difficult for anyone to remove the heavy granite tablet display.
"It doesn't take a lot of people to be sure that all along the way, that this is not an easy process for those who wish to remove these Commandments," says Bob Schenk of the National Clergy Council. The guardians say they are willing to risk arrest, but they hope it doesn't come to that. "I hope and pray nobody goes to jail over the removal of this monument. This state has a history of jailing people who stand on principle. I hope that reputation doesn't keep up under Judge Thompson's rule," commented Schenk.
Three national Christian groups are organizing Wednesday's activities -- the Christian Defense Coalition, the National Clergy Council, and Vision America. And they have a full list of activities, during which they hope to get their message across.
The prayer vigils are expected to continue at the state's judicial building Wednesday morning at 8:00 and again at noon. The Christian Defense Coalition has scheduled a news conference for 1:00 p.m. Then, at 3:00 p.m. the monuments self-proclaimed guardians are expected to walk to the Alabama Capitol, where they hope to meet with the governor.
The Christian Defense Coalition's Rev. Pat Mahoney says, "We don't have an appointment, but we're going to drop off our petitions. We also hope to meet with the attorney general to find out why he's not doing more to protect the first amendment and free speech here in Alabama." A kick-off rally for the round the clock vigil is scheduled in front of the Alabama Judicial Building at 7:30 p.m.