One of the most controversial judges in Alabama history is Judge Roy Moore, who grabbed the nation's attention over his fight to keep a copy of The Ten Commandments in his courtroom and later in the Alabama Judicial Building. Who is this man and how did he get to this point in his life? Why risk everything for a monument? Moore tells his story of the journey in his book, co-authored with John Perry, So Help Me God - The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.
Roy Stewart Moore was born February 11, 1947 into a hard-working, religious family in Gadsden, Alabama. He was the oldest of five children. The family struggled financially; lived in a home without in-door plumbing, and moved several times looking for better paying work. They eventually settled back in the Gadsden area when Roy was in high school.
Moore traveled far to attend high school and cleaned tables in the lunchroom to pay for his lunch. He carried all his books home every night because he couldn't afford to pay the locker fee. He was a straight A-student, had perfect attendance, was selected as Boy's State representative, and elected president of the student body. Despite his great accomplishments, he knew the only way he would be able to attend college would be to try for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
After receiving a recommendation from his U.S. congressman, Roy's prayers were answered and he was accepted at West Point. His father borrowed money to pay for his travel expenses to New York the summer of 1965. This was a huge life-style change for him. He was soon subjected to strict military discipline including the traditional intimidation of younger cadets by upperclassmen. Roy was a favorite target since he was from a rural, less sophisticate background than many of the other cadets. Moore states that dealing with this type of intimidation made him strong and taught him how to stand up for himself and his beliefs.
Following graduation, he was sent first to Germany, then on to Vietnam, where his experiences reinforced his commitment to his beliefs. After his commitment to the Army, he resigned his commission and entered law school at The University of Alabama. He returned to Etowah County and became the first full-time Deputy District Attorney. Later, deciding that he could do more good as a circuit court judge, he resigned his Deputy District Attorney position and ran for circuit court. He reached the run-off but lost the election.
Finding himself out of a job, he put all his efforts into building a home for himself in Gallant, Alabama. He also threw himself into learning kickboxing; then took a long vacation in Australia.
All this gave him a new perspective. He returned to Gadsden, opened a law practice, married and started a family. In 1992 a judge unexpectedly died leaving his position open. Gov. Guy Hunt appointed Roy Moore to fill the position of Circuit Court Judge of Etowah County.
Being the new appointee he was given the smallest and most dilapidated courtroom, which came complete with missing ceiling tiles and a 48-star US flag. He began redecorating the courtroom himself with portraits of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, The Declaration of Independence, The Magna Carta and his own handcrafted plaque of The Ten Commandments. Little did he know how this small act would one day make his name famous around the country.