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Judge Moore responds to criticism of Freedom From Religion Foundation

Embattled Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore testifies during his ethics trial at the Alabama Court of the Judiciary at the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday September 28, 2016.

Judge Roy Moore sent a letter to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) Thursday saying that he does not apologize for raining on their “parade of false legal advice.”

On Friday September 21 Moore (R), in his role as President Emeritus of the Montgomery based Foundation for Moral Law (FML), held a press conference where he offered legal guidance to school superintendents on prayer at football games and sporting events. This apparently upset the people at the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist organization that objects to what it considers government sanctioning of religion so they sent a letter to Judge Moore critical of his viewpoint. Moore responded by writing his own letter responding to their criticism.

“Thank you for your letter of September 25,” Moore wrote. “I will not respond to your train of insults. “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” Proverbs 26:4.”

“Equally disappointing is your oft-repeated accusation that I am a theocratic zealot who wishes “to establish Christianity as the paramount law of the land,”” Moore wrote. “My objective in endeavoring to correct the misleading guidance (coupled with threats of litigation) that school districts have received from your organization is to protect the free exercise and free speech rights of the student body from inappropriate capitulation to your demands.”

“I do not apologize for raining on FFRF’s parade of false legal advice,” Moore said. “Once Alabama school districts understand that they have been deluded by FFRF’s clever misinformation campaign, they can craft sensible policies within the Eleventh Circuit guidelines that permit student speech on the public address system before athletic events on topics of the students’ choosing, religious or otherwise. See Adler v. Duval County School Bd., 250 F.3d 1330 (11th Cir. 2001).”

Moore also cited Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000). “In that case the Supreme Court held that the school should not control or direct the student message. Because Adler was decided on remand in light of Santa Fe, it fully adopts that principle. In conformity with Santa Fe, Adler allows student speech, including religious speech, over a microphone before school events as long as the message is the student’s and not the school’s.”

“I doubt you would have any objection to a student delivering a nonreligious message before a football game,” Moore continued. “Your targeted attack on student religious speech is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. All speech is permitted, in your view, except that which invokes God. The state, however, may not target religious speech for suppression while at the same time freely permitting secular messages.”

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The FFRF said in a statement that they are “Calling out the wildly misnamed Foundation for Moral Law for encouraging Alabama public schools to violate students’ rights and the Constitution.”

“It is the Supreme Court that ‘insists’ that public schools adhere to the Establishment Clause, and that ‘insists’ on protecting student freedom of conscience,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write in their Sept. 25 letter. “The Foundation for Moral Law can bury its head in the sand and deny court precedent, but it is reckless and unethical to then counsel public school officials to do the same.”

“There is no deprivation of anyone’s religious freedom when the government properly refuses to hand believers a governmental megaphone to impose prayer on other people’s children at school events,” FFRF’s letter states. “Keeping divisive religious ritual out of public schools protects the rights of all and ensures equality. Students who wish to pray are free to do so individually or privately.”

“You are seeking to undermine our secular Constitution by governmental fiat to inflict your personal religious beliefs upon everyone else,” Barker and Gaylor wrote. “We are sorry to continue to see your shameful and ignorant posturing.”

“Do you realize Mr. Moore that your theocratic work is in a sense treasonous?” Barker and Gaylor wrote in their letter.

Moore responded, “If this be treason,” as Patrick Henry said, “make the most of it.”

Roy Moore was twice elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court by the people of Alabama.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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