Montgomery (Alabama), Aug. 27 (Reuters): A Ten Commandments monument at the centre of a bitter dispute over the constitutional separation of church and state was removed from public view today in Alabama’s state judicial building.
Workers wheeled away the two-tonne granite monument from in front of a waterfall in the building. The state’s chief justice, Roy Moore, installed the monument two years ago but federal courts ordered it moved.
Rev. Robert Schenck, a spokesman for the protesters who have demonstrated against the removal as an affront to their Christian faith, said a building staff member told him the monument would be moved to an employees-only hallway, where it would not be covered.
It was not clear how long this arrangement would last. Some protesters were distraught over the removal of the monument. One protester screamed: “Put it back, put it back” as others in front of the judicial building tried to calm him down.
“It is a lamentable day in Alabama and the US,” said Schenck, who is president of the National Clergy Council, a conservative Christian group based in Washington.
“It is demoralising to see people compromise their principles such as the governor, the attorney general and even the building management who installed this with enthusiastic resolve. In a time of trial and tribulation, people easily give up their principles.”
But Larry Darby, Alabama state director of the American Atheists organisation, said: “It is about time. That Roy Moore has made a mockery of the judicial system.
“He has disgraced the bench and the bar and has embarrassed the state of Alabama worldwide. I’m only disappointed it will not be out of the building and off taxpayer property.”
Alabama’s eight associate justices ordered the monument removed in compliance with a ruling from the US district court in Montgomery.