Not much has changed.
In DeKalb County, the city fathers of the little town of Sylvania decided it would be nice to put a Bible verse on the town’s welcome sign. They could have secularized some variation of “here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here” (Isaiah 28:12), which seems appropriate on a welcome sign and might have passed constitutional scrutiny. Instead, those in charge selected “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” from the book of Ephesians, which is pretty difficult to interpret as anything more than a civic endorsement of Christianity.
As the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and again, civic endorsements of any religion violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
That’s why it’s no surprise to Sylvania officials that an organization like the Freedom From Religion Foundation would threaten to take the city to court if the verse was not removed.
This is where attorneys from the city and the Freedom From Religion Foundation would normally get together, consult the Constitution and relevant rulings on the matter, and resolve things themselves. However, because that resolution would likely result in the removal of the verse, the Foundation for Moral Law has rushed to defend Sylvania.
Guess who heads the Foundation for Moral Law? Roy Moore, who this spring won the Republican nomination for chief justice.
One can — and should — question the propriety of an Alabama chief justice GOP nominee heading a foundation dedicated to a constitutional position on which he might one day have to rule. More important, one can — and should — wonder why Moore is personally getting involved in the first place.
Here is a prime example of the sort of controversy on which a chief justice should avoid taking a public stand. If and when matters such as this come before his court, he can then rule on them and explain in legal terms the reasoning behind his decision.
We hoped this was what Roy Moore would do.
He has disappointed us again.