SPRINGFIELD — They call him the “Ten Commandments Judge.”
You know the fellow I’m talking about. Yes, Roy Moore, Alabama U.S. Senate candidate.
Before the most recent controversy swirled around him, he was best known for defying a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments that he had erected in the entryway of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The controversy raised his prominence to a level that has enabled him to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. We’ll find out next week, whether Moore is elected. But what we already know is that he has used a perception of religious persecution to further his political career.
Just last week, President Donald Trump was in St. Louis bragging that he brought “Merry Christmas” back to the White House.
It seems, Trump’s charge that “you don’t see Merry Christmas anymore” was directed at his predecessor former President Barack Obama.
You know, the fellow who Trump falsely suggested was a Muslim.
Just to set the record straight, Obama repeatedly used the term “Merry Christmas” during his time in office. And, when Obama was a state senator, I spent a fair amount of time chatting with him over lunch about religion and other things. He is not a Muslim.
But hey, The Donald had “Merry Christmas” printed on the White House holiday cards this year.
Whether it’s the Ten Commandments or “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas” on White House stationary, the controversies remind me of another I covered about a decade ago when a group wanted to place a nativity scene in the Illinois Capitol rotunda.
A private group spent $7,000 to do just that. And then an atheist group demanded and received equal space. They put a display next to the Baby Jesus. And then a menorah was erected next to the Christian and atheist exhibits.
Why is it so important to some folks to use taxpayer-owned property — whether it be a statehouse rotunda or White House stationary — to promote a religious viewpoint?
This holiday season, do we really care what is etched into a courthouse monument or printed on a White House holiday card?
Isn’t it more important what’s inscribed in the hearts of men and women?
Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and can be reached at ScottReeder1965@gmail.com.