Pastors rally around former Alabama judge

`Commandments' champion keys `God, Country' theme

June 29, 2007|By Rochelle McConkie | Rochelle McConkie,Sun Reporter

A Severn church and a Pasadena-based group will host this weekend the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who rose to national prominence when he refused remove a Ten Commandments monument from courthouse grounds.

As part of a "God and Country" pastors' conference calling for the United States to put God back into the government, Roy S. Moore will be on hand for an area dedication of a replica of the now-famous statue.

"We believe he's truly an American hero - a patriot willing to forfeit his own job for religious convictions and the believing that the state has a right to acknowledge God," said the Rev. David Frye of the Severn Christian Church.

The church is joining with the Institution on the Constitution, which teaches classes nationwide about religious roots in American history, for the conference from Sunday to Tuesday.

Moore is the keynote speaker for the church's third annual patriotic celebration, traditionally held the Sunday evening before the Fourth of July.

The conference will end with the dedication of Judge Roy Moore Field at Ten Commandments Park in Mitchellville, and the unveiling of a replica of the Alabama Ten Commandments monument at the field. This replica has been "Marylandized" and will contain references to the Maryland Declaration of Rights instead of the Alabama Constitution, as in the original.

Del. Don Dwyer of District 31, master of ceremonies for the event, who was with Moore in Alabama when he was removed from office three years ago, said the conference is important because of current challenges people are facing regarding social issues such as same-sex marriage and what he called the "degradation of family values over the last 20 years."

"We need to encourage churches and church leaders to recognize that it is their responsibility to preach and teach on issues that they believe are political in nature," Dwyer said.

Michael Peroutka, a Pasadena attorney who co-founded the Institution on the Constitution and was the Constitution Party's 2004 presidential candidate, owns the property at Gladway Farm encompassing Ten Commandments Park.

Using reference to God in the Declaration of Independence as support, Peroutka said his organization teaches that the acknowledgement of God is not a violation of the First Amendment.

"America has a perverted understanding of the separation of church and state," Peroutka said.

Moore has devoted himself to this idea since Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU of Alabama sued him to get him to remove the original monument. They fought him all the way to the Supreme Court twice, and won.

"I think he's riding a trick pony and three of the legs are already gone," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "It always troubles me that people get lured into thinking that he has legitimate views to what the courts are saying now."

The keynote address and worship service Sunday night at the Severn Christian Church is free and will be followed by a fireworks show. The conference on Monday and Tuesday has a $100 entrance charge, and will include speakers such as former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who was discharged for "praying in the name of Jesus."

Following the dedication and unveiling at Judge Roy Moore field on Tuesday, a soccer game will feature athletes from Annapolis Area Christian School.

Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena, Defend Maryland Marriage and the National Clergy Council are also sponsoring the event.

rochelle.mcconkie@baltsun.com

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