Skip to comments.Carved in stone (10 Commandments Monument)
Posted on 08/30/2003 2:59:49 AM PDT by kattracksEdited on 07/12/2004 4:07:18 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
Contemplate the image of poor old Justice Roy Moore with his 5,000-pound Ten Commandments on his shoulders coming slowly, hesitantly down a mountain, and then tripping and falling, the monument squashing him as smooth as slate rock. The sound you hear is a roar of laughter. The sophisticates are loving every minute of it.
(Excerpt) Read more at washtimes.com ...
Warren Wolfe, Star Tribune
Published August 30, 2003
ALEXANDRIA, MINN. -- Retired Judge E. J. Ruegemer is 101 now, his eyesight failing, his hearing impaired, his walk halting.
But he remembers with absolute clarity the juvenile delinquent whose ignorance of right and wrong spurred the judge to start a movement in 1946 to place thousands of monuments and plaques with the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, schools and parks across the nation.
For decades, his campaign, aided by the Fraternal Order of Eagles and a Hollywood film mogul, won Ruegemer praise and respect.
"Now, they're being removed in so many places. It saddens me because it does society good to have reminders of right and wrong in public places. But I don't take it personally," he said this week while sitting in his recliner in the adult foster care home where he's lived since October.
"You could say this big mess in Alabama, where the judge refused to obey a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments, you could say that all started with that 16-year-old St. Cloud boy," Ruegemer said.
He remembers the boy well, a troubled youth who at that time had stolen a car and struck and injured a priest who was walking past.
"They wanted to send him to the boys' reformatory in Red Wing, but I wasn't so sure," said Ruegemer, then 44, who had become interested in underlying causes of crime years earlier while working at the St. Cloud Reformatory.
He ordered a presentence investigation and discovered that the boy came from a broken family, had no friends and had failed in school because he had vision and hearing problems.
Ruegemer sentenced the boy to learn and live by the Ten Commandments.
"He asked me what the Ten Commandments were," the judge recalled.
Ruegemer had the boy get instruction on the Ten Commandments from his mother's pastor. And he got him a job at a St. Cloud store.
"I remember his name, but I'm not telling, said Ruegemer, who was a probate and juvenile judge in St. Cloud from 1940 until 1947, then a district judge until retiring in 1967.
"He'd be about 73 now, if he's still alive, and I don't want to embarrass him," he said. "But I think he did OK after that. I got a Christmas card from him once."
'A different time'
Shortly after issuing the unusual sentence, Ruegemer got to thinking. He already was involved with the Eagles as chairman of its National Youth Guidance Commission, so he asked the group for help printing copies of the Ten Commandments to post in courtrooms and schools.
"They wanted to know which version to use. Well I got a priest and a rabbi and the Ministerial Association to agree on one," he said.
"Remember, it was a different time then. Everybody thought this was a good idea, a way to help build morality and character. I still think it's a good idea. People haven't changed much, but the times have changed."
The Eagles sold more than 10,000 of the printed replicas, $2.25 each, and the requests started coming in from around the country.
That's when Cecil B. DeMille heard about the campaign. He had just finished making the 1956 movie, "The Ten Commandments," and was looking for a way to publicize it.
"He told me he thought we ought to make a more permanent monument, maybe in bronze," Ruegemer said. "I suggested Minnesota granite, and we had a deal."
Around the country, local Eagles donated more than 4,000 granite monuments, and DeMille dispatched Ten Commandments stars Charlton Heston , Yul Brynner and Martha Scott for many of the dedications.
Although legally blind, Ruegemer uses a magnifier to enlarge his daily newspaper on a TV screen so he can follow the latest battle over the display of the Ten Commandments, this one in the rotunda of a courthouse in Montgomery, Ala.
On Wednesday, workers pried loose the 5,300-pound monument that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had installed. It has been locked in a storage room. A federal judge ruled last year that it violated the Constitution's ban against government promotion of religion. Moore refused to comply with the order to move it, was overruled by his eight colleagues on the court and was suspended on ethics charges. He has vowed to appeal.
"You know, that big fight down there didn't have to happen," Ruegemer said. "There was another way to solve that, but I don't think anybody down there even looked for a way out."
Alabama might have learned from officials in Grand Junction, Colo., he said. They created a Cornerstones of Law and Order plaza and added replicas of the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Plymouth Compact, preamble to the Constitution and parts of the Bill of Rights.
"I think the Ten Commandments should be on display where people, especially children can see it," said Ruegemer, whose concern for youths led him to start Big Brothers in St. Cloud soon after he launched the Ten Commandments project. "Yes, it's a religious document, but also a historic document that is the basis for a lot of our laws."
In Alabama, the judge who defied a federal court order "had his heart in the right place, but his head was not," Ruegemer said. "You obey the law. You obey rulings of superior courts whether you agree or not."
Still, if that 16-year-old boy were before him again, "I'd do exactly the same thing. I'd sentence him to learn and live by the Ten Commandments. The difference is, now I might have been reversed on appeal."
Warren Wolfe is at email@example.com .
Just how sure are you of your assertion? How unlawful does a ruling by the Supreme Court have to be before one considers civil disobedience?
That is a rather simplistic point of view. The Federal Court's ruling was in itself "unlawful". The question is just how unlawful does a court order have to be before one considers civil disobedience?
You can disobey any ruling, from any court, as long as you don't bitch about the consequences.
Amen, Brother Rugemer! Thank you, again, Catspaw! This is exactly what I've been trying to explain for weeks.
Judge Moore's display gives pride of place to the Ten Commandments. He was asked to allow a display of Martin Luther's I have a dream speech a place of similar prominence, and Moore refused because it was the word of man, not God.
He was asked by the atheists to allow a display of a representation of an atom in a place of similar prominence and that was refused.
There are sectarian symbols on the base of the monument but the overall intention is to exalt the word of God.
Judge Moore knew what he was doing, and things are going pretty much as he envisioned them, it appears to me. I don't see how his endgame is going to play out for him in a way that he's going to like but am staying tuned.
In the meantime, all over the country, displays of the Ten Commandments remain, because they don't exalt the word of God over other elements of law and culture in the public square.
Is that disrespectful to God? That's Moore's point, and that's what Moore is saying.
But those who fear that God is being driven from the public square are wrong. The word of God remains in the public square, but it may not be exalted in government buildings, parks, and other tax-payer funded buildings.
I believe you've side stepped the issue. Perhaps now you would care to provide a more responsive reply. Perhaps it is once more time for the American populace to rise up in armed rebellion against those who would perpetrate judicial tyranny.
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