What Roy Moore and Grand Junction City Council have in common

Roy Moore

Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican senatorial candidate accused of sexual predation, brings thoughts right back here to Grand Junction, because Moore and Grand Junction have two big things in common.

They are 1) the Ten Commandments, and 2) an eagerness to defy U.S. law.

Moore was twice thrown out of his job as Chief Justice for the state of Alabama for defying U.S. law. After the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage, Moore ordered the state’s probate court judges not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. A commission charged him with violating federal judicial orders and kicked him off the court in 2016. That was the second time Moore was ejected for violating the law.

Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments Tablet in the rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building

The first time Moore got the boot was in 2003, after he refused to remove a 5,280-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of Alabama’s state Judicial Building. Moore had ordered the monument placed there himself. In 2003, a federal district court ruled that having the monument on government property blatantly violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits government from endorsing any religion. A federal appellate court affirmed the ruling, clearing up any lingering doubts about whether a Ten Commandments tablet on government property violates U.S. law.

The Court ordered Moore to remove the monument, but he refused, stating

“As chief justice of the State of Alabama, I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law. To do so would, in effect, result in the disestablishment of our system of justice in this state.”

Grand Junction refuses to remove its Ten Commandments tablet, too

In 2001, Grand Junction residents sued the City of Grand Junction  (pdf) asking it to remove the Ten Commandments tablet from City Hall’s lawn because it was an impermissible endorsement of religion.

Grand Junction’s “Ten Commandments” tablet in front of City Hall in 2017, with “Big Hunk” candy bars

Five out of seven Grand Junction City Councilors thought, like Roy Moore, that they should fight for the tablet to remain on City Hall property because they were Christian, most City residents were Christian and so Christianity obviously reigned supreme in town, and that’s all that mattered.  But that’s not how our Constitution works, and Council willingly ignored that fact. In the United States, federal law says government at any level can not endorse any religion, no matter who is in the majority in it’s jurisdiction.

Just like Roy Moore, Grand Junction City Council sought to defy the Constitution and get away with it. The City spent $64,000 of taxpayer money to try to disguise the tablet’s message of religious exclusivity by putting it next to the Bill of Rights and the Mayflower compact. In so doing, the City sent a message to the public that it’s okay to violate the law if you have enough money to do it and think your own personal beliefs supersede the law.

It’s a disgraceful message, and not what America or our town are about.

Grand Junction’s effort to keep the Ten Commandments on government property  was spearheaded by our own home-grown religious moralizer at the time, City Councilman Reford Theobold, who felt so strongly about his morality that he broadcasted it by wearing a necktie with the Ten Commandments on it.

Theobold was arrested in 2015 for shoplifting maps and Big Hunk candy bars from Cabela’s at Mesa Mall.

So much for boastful religious morality, and at least the 8th commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”

Maybe after pulling off his Constitutional violation in 2001 in front of the entire town, Theobold felt he could get away with violating even more laws. After all, that was the message the City had sent. Theobold just took it to heart like any good City resident would.

It’s all a shameful embarrassment and speaks poorly of our town and our elected leaders’ integrity.

Roy Moore is a disgrace, and so is Reford Theobold. But what are we going to do to fix it?

Reford "Ten Commandments" Theobold

Disgraced former G.J. City Council member Reford Theobold, shown wearing a Ten Commandments tie at a 2006 event

Some Christian evangelicals are now distancing themselves from Roy Moore by pointing out his erroneous interpretation of Christianity. The Atlantic magazine wrote that “Christian support for Roy Moore looks like hypocrisy to the outside world.”  Reverend Laughton Hicks of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama said November 16 that Moore is “seriously infected with … [a] false Christian religious virus, as are most white males in Alabama.”

In 2001, Grand Junction’s City Council was obviously infected with the same “false Christian religious virus” that currently infects Roy Moore and those who still believe he is fit for office. Moore was wrong to keep the Ten Commandments tablet on public property and lost his job because of it. The only G.J. city council member who urged the City to obey the Constitution in 2001 and remove the Ten Commandments was Gene Kinsey. In return, Kinsey was voted off council in the following election. Kinsey said later he never expected to stay on Council for a long time anyway, and while he personally disliked the idea of having to move the tablet, he knew the City legally needed to move it and it was the right thing to do.

Today, Mr. Kinsey has moved away, but the Ten Commandments tablet still sits in front of City Hall, as a daily reminder that the City of Grand Junction embraced Christian religious superiority in 2001, and continues to do so in 2017.



  27 comments for “What Roy Moore and Grand Junction City Council have in common

  1. Anne:
    You were right early in your version of events regarding placement of the 10 Commandments monument after the new City Hall was built…five of seven council members voted to create the “Plaza of Law and Liberty”. As I’m sure you remember but forgot to include in your final reference to the vote, I joined Gene Kinsey in consistently opposing that.

  2. Most religion is a continuous source of suffering for all of mankind. How any importance can still be given to imaginary deities (who dwell far above us in the “heavens,” or deep below in the molten depths of the Earth) is beyond me. Our founders clearly established a separation of church and state yet there are too many zealots today who feel emboldened to force us all to kneel and bow to imaginary gods. Ancient civilizations had lots of gods too…..most are long forgotten, as they should be. What do we have here in GJ? ……a poorly designed, chintzy, religious, quasi political/historical “monument” prominently situated on the front lawn of our City Hall. When was the last time a “god” showed up to multitudes? Well past memory! Yet we all are supposed to believe these “gods” going to drop by to solve humanities problems, wars, sufferings? Here at home, GJ could sure use some new business and industry….definitely need some help with the homeless, child abuse, and our dirtiest of secrets, epic drug and alcohol problems, and all the suffering they bring. When can we expect Jesus and his “Dad” back here on the Earth?….and please don’t tell me all this sufferings of humans and animal life on this planet is just a “test” for all us sinful humans! I’ve heard that nonsense enough already. Ultimately humans must take responsibility for our actions and live together, and do the best we can possibly do to improve all life. The so called gods just ain’t coming! In the mean time I DON’T want your dopey religion on the lawn of my City Hall!

  3. Good article on a wrong that needs to be righted soon…..the Cornerstones of Law and Liberty is a paltry attempt at patriotism masked with lots of religiosity, in a low end “monument” which should be removed from our City Hall front lawn. It’s unfortunate GJ has so many backward people in office…right now the Commissioners are especially beholding to the good ol’ boys and their rhetoric. Oh, well someday, in the distant future no doubt, we may be as enlightened as our sister cities like Durango and Montrose!

    • It beats a nation where freedoms are dependant on believing the right things. That’s exactly what this country was founded to prevent. Which side are you on?

      • “Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”. Unalienable! And if you don’t believe that, then your rights are probably pretty much dependent upon the whims of a government, while my rights are secured by divine providence. But then governments, as well as people, are accountable to a higher power. Wouldn’t you like to be a water walker too??

        • That’s the Declaration of Independance. It has zero legal weight. It was just a letter telling King George we wanted out.

          Now, if you found something like that in the Constitution, you would have a point. Instead, what do we find? religious freedom, instead of religious tyranny.

          So again, which side are you on?

          • “Declaration of Independance”; never heard of it! (at least not spelled like that).

            The Constitution I believe limits the powers of the federal government and to some extent the states. However, all other rights not enumerated are reserved to me, by my creator and the Constitution. Of course, from time to time that lesson may require reteaching. And that’s why we have the second amendment to the Constitution. That’s the one that guarantees all the others. And that’s why it’s in the Constitution.

            I think you might be thinking about freedom from a government established religion, instead of the free exercise of the religion of your own choosing. But you’ll have to take that one up with God or the government. My advice would be to go with the government, but I think I’d wait until after Trump’s second term for a more harmonious outcome. Be sure and let me know how that works out for ya?

          • Well Scotty, I don’t think God depends on government for validation of his power. But we’ll try to slip him in when we write the next one. I understand there are folks out there already working on a rough draft of that covenant. I’ll get you a copy after it’s ratified.

          • So much for being an “American” patriot, I see. I guess that’s small “a” now.

            And you still haven’t answered my question.

          • Small a? As in atheist? But just as an aside, would you like to show me your badge……before you start demanding answers? Which pretty much means you’re full of yourself. And why should I waste my time arguing with someone who can’t spell independence or use spell check? Or someone with foot odor who doesn’t love Jesus?

          • And your hypocrisy rears its ugly head yet again. Don’t ever change, not that I think you could. Old dogs, new tricks and all that. At least you’re somewhat entertaining standing on your soapbox ranting about the end of the world and so forth.

            Have a nice night.

          • Nope, I’m enjoying a pleasant evening watching a good show and laughing at conservative nutjobs on the internet. It’s really quite entertaining.

    • AP, you are free to worship your god as anyone is to worship any god or gods, but there is a distinction you don’t seem to grasp between what you see as “abandoning god” and maintaining separation of church and state. A government that mandates it’s citizens adhere to specific religious beliefs and behaviors is a theocracy. Examples of theocracies include Saudi Arabia, the Vatican, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran. The U.S. is not a theocracy. We have a secular (non-religious) government in this country. The law of this country says for very sensible reasons that government — and that means government at any level, whether cities, states, etc. — cannot endorse a specific religion. This is good, not bad. It helps maintain cultural equality, it prevents one group from trying to dominate and oppress others, it reinforces citizens’ freedom to believe as they see fit and yet be treated equally by government and it’s institutions, like public schools, public health departments, motor vehicle departments, etc. I would think that as a purported “American Patriot” you would support the basic tenets of our government that reinforce our freedom.

      • Anne, you said:

        “it prevents one group from trying to dominate and oppress others,”

        That’s just it – people like ap are perfectly fine with one group dominating and oppressing others as long as they’re in that group. ap is just desperately trying to pretend that his group is still powerful. Losing that power terrifies him.

      • I am shocked, shocked I tell you that you would use the word “theocracy” in place of caliphate. But then, that’s probably because you have no idea what’s happening in that non-existent Tea Party world out there. If you want a hint, watch Roy Moore’s campaign bank account.

          • Actually, it’s something else issuing from your beloved Cheeto Messiah’s rear; your head’s just a little too close to tell the difference.

          • Why Shameless, you forgot to call me Tim. Now that truly hurts my feelings. It’s not my fault you were Trumped. And you’ve had almost a whole year to get over yourself, bitty boy.

          • Relax, Tim. I didn’t forget who you are. You just forget that no one really cares about who you are, which is why you’re reduced to annoying people, just to have some sort of impact.

          • I just wanted to make sure you didn’t forget my name is Tim, bitty boy. And you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. And thank you.

  4. I’m really having a hard time comprehending the mindset of individuals who (at least pretend to) believe in archaic tenets that make little sense in the modern world. It’s like we’re living in some sci-fi movie where civilization goes backward to a religious fantasy cooked up by a mad scientist. Maybe the scientist part doesn’t fit but you get my drift. i’m happy that there are people such as yourself who pay attention and stay active in pursuing reality and preserving the set of rules that has made the US the most desired country in the world. Maybe not anymore but hopefully we can hold the line.

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