Coming soon to a venue near you: a rally focusing on a 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments.
The American Veterans Standing for God and Country, a Texas-based group, recently reached an agreement with Roy Moore, the monument’s owner, allowing the group to carry the monument on a flatbed truck for a nationwide tour billed as “God Bless America” rallies.
Moore was the chief justice who had the monument constructed and then installed (without anyone’s knowledge or consent) in the rotunda of the judicial building in Montgomery, Ala. Several organizations sued on the grounds that its presence there violated the First Amendment’s ban on state-established religion. A federal judge ruled in 2002 that the monument was unconstitutional and ordered Moore to remove it. He refused and was eventually removed from office by the State Court of the Judiciary.
Since August 2003, the monument has been stored in a closet in the judicial building. In announcing the upcoming rallies, Jim Cabaniss, the veterans group president, stated, “We’re going to take it out of the dark closet of the Alabama state Supreme Court building and bring it out and move it across America and expose it to as many American people as possible.”
Plans are to keep the monument covered with a canvas as it travels from place to place and uncover it at the rallies.
What do event organizers think will happen when they ceremoniously uncover the monument during these rallies?
Will visual exposure to the monument prompt massive and measurable nationwide repentance?
Will looking at a granite monument point people toward the God who spoke the words inscribed there and the way of community living this God requires?
Will being in the presence of the monument really change anything?
Does such rabid devotion and attention to this monument break one of the commandments inscribed on it?
Our local and global communities would, without a doubt, function much more peaceably and productively if people lived according to the Ten Commandments. For many people, neither the words nor the ideas behind them are the problem. The monument is. It seems to have become more important than the God before, behind, above and around it.
We tend to nod in agreement but read quickly beyond the second commandment. We don’t typically make, worship and serve idols like golden calves, so we think we can check that one off our list. Perhaps we should think again.
In her book Ancient Psalms for Contemporary Pilgrims, author Jeanie Miley notes that “In spite of our sophistication and education we make idols of things and processes.” Our children, spouses and religious leaders can become gods for us, she says, as can education, technology, medicine, commerce, nations, corporations and institutions.
“Some of us even make the church or the denomination into an idol, demanding that it do for us what it cannot do.”
We don’t always recognize our idols for what they really are because we’ve perfected our craftsmanship.
The only One we never fool is God.
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.