Passionate views having to do with politics and religion were expressed at the Alabama State Judicial Building Wednesday as supporters of Chief Justice Roy Moore spent all day kneeling,praying, and singing around the Ten Commandments monument. By all accounts it was a peaceful protest, but it was not without excitement.
The building which houses the Alabama Supreme Court usually doesn't close its doors until 5:00 p.m. But Wednesday those doors started to close around 4:00 p.m. Citing security concerns and saying they knew some people had no intention of leaving the rotunda of the building without being arrested, marshals asked all those who did not want to be taken into custody to leave the building.
About two dozen people refused to leave the building and eventually 22 people were arrested and taken to the Montgomery County jail. One man had to be dragged away. Twenty-one of those arrested went to jail, one individual was a 17-year-old juvenile who was released to his parents.
Bond for the others was set at $100 which most paid and after which they were released on their own recognizance. By late in the night there were four stalwarts still in the Montgomery County jail who refused to give their social security numbers according to Sheriff D.T. Marshall. Those four will have to go before a district judge as soon as the court docket permits.
Meanwhile as the evening wore on in downtown Montgomery, speakers such as former ambassador and presidential candidate Alan Keyes exhorted the monument's supporters to stand their ground. Keyes says everyone of conscience in America needs to show the same kind of courage Judge Roy Moore is showing, "Moore is showing reverence for the authority of almighty God," intoned Keyes.
Keyes went on to call for "people of faith that really care about the restoration of America ...to come to Montgomery. At the same time the former presidential candidate challenged conservative public figures who have not shown strong enough support for Moore. "If there's anyone...that continues to pay lip service to the conservative cause, you ask them first if they were in Montgomery."
Monument supporters were also told that it was now up to them to keep the monument in the building.
Elsewhere in the city, Wednesday night saw a lot of people at their churches for normal Wednesday activities, and many of them had something to say on the issue. WSFA caught up with a couple of church-goers at Montgomery's First Baptist Church to get their opinion on what's happening in downtown Montgomery.
Vince Thacker is in favor of the monument, "The courts make laws now. I think this is a shame. It's how we got abortion on demand. It's how we've gotten a lot of things that are against God's law." And Mark Fain added, "I would say that sometimes in life you have to stand up for what's right. Those people are just like many people in the Biblical standings...when they stood up for Christianity and were willing to go the extra mile and persevere prosecution."
Jay Wolf, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, told the Washington Post, "There are many people, unfortunately, who have become suspect of Justice Moore's motives."
As for the man at the center of the controversy, Judge Roy Moore is making all his statements to the national media. He has refused to do any local TV news interviews, but he has been on several national news programs. He started Wednesday's TV news blitz Wednesday morning on the national morning shows of CBS and ABC. Wednesday night, the chief justice appeared by phone on CNBC and was on the Fox News channel live around 8:30 p.m.
Earlier in the day the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judaical Building, but a spokesman for the chief justice says Moore will not be deterred. The high court decided not to be drawn into the quagmire at the moment, but other motions have been filed and will be filed with the court.
In a statement read by spokesman Tom Parker Wednesday the justice stated, "The U.S. Supreme Court's denial of a stay today will not deter me from continuing to fight for the right of our state to acknowledge God as the moral foundation of our law. I still have pending a petition for writ of mandamus and prohibition in the Supreme Court. I will also petition the Supreme Court for an appeal on the merits in this case. I expect that the court will vindicate the rule of law regarding the acknowledgement of God in our state."
Judge Moore had wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay and prevent the removal of the monument. Moore told CBS's "The Early Show" that the issue was "the acknowledgment of God." Moore has repeatedly stated he is upholding the Alabama Constitution.
As to the question of whether or not the chief justice has any intention of resigning his office, Moore told Fox News "I have no intention of resigning." Moore also told Fox, "The problem with politicians in office is they'll say one thing, then when they get into office they do something else."
Moore's supporters aren't going anywhere soon. The Alabama Christian Coalition's John Giles says his group has permits to remain on the sidewalk for up to three weeks and "if we need to we will." Giles said the Ten Commandments are the "cornerstone of Western civilized law." Giles added the U.S. Supreme Court is in conflict with this order.