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Battle Over Ten Commandments Monument Intensifies

Aired August 21, 2003 - 16:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: A monumental question about a monument to the Ten Commandments. The courts say, thou shalt move it. Should Alabama's chief justice obey?

CHIEF JUSTICE ROY MOORE, ALABAMA SUPREME COURT: To remove the monument would be a disacknowledgment of God.

ANNOUNCER: The Reverends Jerry Falwell and Barry Lynn square off on the roles of church, state, religion and the law, with activist Janeane Garofalo sitting in on the left -- today on CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Janeane Garofalo and Tucker Carlson.


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. And a special welcome to our guest host on the left all this week, Janeane Garofalo. She's with us until tomorrow.



CARLSON: We're watching a developing story today in Alabama, where courts have ordered the state's chief justice to remove an incredibly dangerous monument to the Ten Commandments. He says he answers to a higher authority. We'll debate it.

But first, the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

GAROFALO: Secretary of State Colin Powell is at the United Nations today to discuss the U.S. proposal for a resolution compelling member states to help bolster security and stability in Iraq. Powell is in conflict with an administration that refuses to cede any meaningful control to the international community.

In the buildup to war, the Bush administration and the conservative media repeatedly insulted the United Nations. And now the Iraqi people see the U.N. as a weak tool of the American occupiers. This is another example of the Bush administration's intransigence. It does not support the troops or the Iraqi people.

CARLSON: I must say, Janeane, I love this. This is maybe my favorite political alert of all time. The idea is that Colin Powell, the secretary of state, has somehow snuck up to New York without the knowledge of his boss, the president, and is calling for the U.N. to send more troops to Iraq. But the administration is against it. He's doing it anyway.

GAROFALO: No, that's not the idea at all.


GAROFALO: But that's a nice, condescending way to try and reframe it.

I think that the way that the U.N. is treated, as usual, and the international community by this administration is very alienating. It is not helpful. And they're still not ceding any meaningful control.

CARLSON: If it was up to the U.N., Saddam Hussein would still be killing his own people.


CARLSON: But the point is, the administration is calling for greater U.N. involvement. And you won't even recognize it.

GAROFALO: They're not calling for it. They weren't calling for it prior to the buildup in war. There was no -- the plan for humanitarian aid was never solidly in place. This is ridiculous, when people say, we couldn't have foreseen this chaos.


CARLSON: But that's a separate argument. But Colin Powell is making...

GAROFALO: The bell went off in my ear. Stop talking.



CARLSON: Not everyone hates Gray Davis, you'll be surprised to learn. In his hour of need, the embattled California governor has turned today for help to his traditional allies, bike messengers, humpback whale enthusiasts, adjunct professors of women's liberation studies from a variety of junior colleges in the Sacramento area and, oh yes, the lord.

That's right. The lord is against the recall, too. Davis said so in an event in Los Angeles yesterday. "I have faith in God," Davis explained. "I carry a little cart around with me that says, 'Nothing will happen to me today that the lord and I can't handle together.'" Gray Davis and the lord, they make a great campaign team.


CARLSON: Davis has been taking advice from a certain former president, and it shows. The governor is using Bill Clinton's three patented steps to surviving a political catastrophe. One, allege a conspiracy. Two, blame other people for your mistakes. And, three, when all else fails, claim that the lord himself is on your side.

Next move, bring Jesse Jackson to the governor's mansion for a prayer circle.


CARLSON: I want to throw up, Janeane.


GAROFALO: Please do. Be my guest.

I actually think that's ridiculous. The Clinton bashing, of course, is always very convenient for you guys, because you've got nothing to talk about, so you must keep diversionary tactics and Clinton bashing.

CARLSON: Let's address the substance of what I just said, though.

GAROFALO: But the Davis recall is actually -- there is a conspiracy, if you're thinking of...


GAROFALO: Well, now the bell went off. I hate the structure of this show.


CARLSON: So all the sudden, Gray Davis is like behaving like members of the religious right?

GAROFALO: You can never talk about anything on this show. This is ridiculous. OK, sorry.


GAROFALO: Speaking of recall, there is a more enlightened approach. A new committee called the Fair and Balanced Pact today launched the Web site. The pact will work to defeat President Bush in the next year's election by informing citizens about the administration's mishandling of the economy, environment and foreign policy.

The Republican bully boys and the women who love them should know that stealing elections, financing recalls, redistricting and harassing their fellow Americans is coming to an end in 2004. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Wait. So do you mean to tell me -- and I just want to make certain.

GAROFALO: Yes, I do mean to tell you.

CARLSON: I know. I know you do.

But do you mean to tell me that there are Democrats out there who don't support President Bush's reelection? Janeane, this is breaking news. I'm glad we're revealing this for the first time here on CNN. That's ridiculous.


GAROFALO: No. No. What this is about is -- actually, it's about informing people that the reason that they're trying to recall Gray Davis, these trumped-up reasons, is exactly going wrong with President Bush.

CARLSON: Right, destroying his state's economy. Right.

GAROFALO: The deficits, the budget, the mishandling of the economy, and losing jobs. And, again, I'm waiting for the bell to go off.


GAROFALO: We need to have a show where we have an hour, like on whatever.

CARLSON: I think that's the Bravo network you're talking about.

Actually, Janeane...

GAROFALO: We should be on Bravo.

CARLSON: Democrats in California loathe Gray Davis every bit as much as Republicans do. I think you're his lone defender. And for that, I want to congratulate you.


GAROFALO: No, that has nothing to do with who loathes and doesn't loathe Gray Davis. This recall is ridiculous.

CARLSON: Another conspiracy.

GAROFALO: And I didn't say anything meaningful.


CARLSON: President Bush is visiting Oregon today. As a result, his campaign will take home another $1 million or so.

But presidential fund-raisers are only part of the reason why Republicans are spanking Democrats in the 2004 money race.


CARLSON: "USA Today" reports the GOP is raising huge amounts of money from small and medium-sized donations from people. The Democrat Party, meanwhile, is not. The paper quotes DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe admitting that his party has lost 70 percent of its disposable income. Thanks to campaign finance reform, Democrats have been cut off from unlimited soft money contributions by labor unions, trial lawyers, and Barbra Streisand.


CARLSON: Keep in mind that campaign finance reform, silly, ineffective, and unconstitutional, was brought to you by the Democratic Party. Once again, be careful what you wish for. And it serves them right.

GAROFALO: It actually was not brought to us by the Democratic Party. Some of the first campaign finance reform was under Nixon's administration. But be that as it may...

CARLSON: That's true. And the president signed it. And he shouldn't have. That was...

GAROFALO: You just totally contradicted yourself.

CARLSON: No, no, no. I'm against campaign finance reform and I'm sorry that he signed it.

GAROFALO: OK, fine, fine. But the point is, is, the Bush administration -- one of the things that blows my mind is, if he's so popular and so beloved, why does he need $200 million to get reelected? How come his record doesn't stand for himself?


CARLSON: Well, Janeane, do you know what that money goes to? It's not to pay voters to vote. It's to put on campaign spots that inform the public about what his positions are. How can you be against that?


GAROFALO: They don't inform the public at all. That money is like thrown in the street.

CARLSON: Well, you don't agree with them.

GAROFALO: I sure don't.

CARLSON: But that doesn't mean they're not informative.

A monument to the Ten Commandments is still standing in Alabama's judicial center, but the courts say it is dangerous and must be moved. In just a minute, we'll ask Jerry Falwell and Barry Lynn how much religious expression ought to be allowed in a free country.

We'll be right back.




CARLSON: Welcome back.

The First Amendment to the Constitution begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." A couple of years ago, Alabama's state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore put up a monument containing the Ten Commandments. It provoked a lawsuit that claimed he crossed the constitutional line.

State and federal courts ruled against the monument. But Justice Moore refuses to take it down, saying the real issue is whether the state can acknowledge God. This is what he told a crowd just a few minutes ago.


MOORE: I will not violate my oath. I cannot forsake my conscience. I will not neglect my duty. And I will never, never deny the God upon whom our laws in our country depend.



CARLSON: Stepping into the CROSSFIRE today -- and we fully expect lightning bolts to follow -- the Reverend Barry Lynn. And he's executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. And in Lynchburg, Virginia, is the Reverend Jerry Falwell. He's the founder and chancellor of Liberty University.



Mr. Falwell, my first question is this. I actually -- it doesn't particularly bother me if that monument is there. It's the fanatics at that manufactured rally that do. But I want to know, why does the monument have to be there? Is it in case he forgets?


GAROFALO: If he channels the Ten Commandments, which is fine, why does it have -- why can you not have it just manifested in your heart and mind? Why does that slab of concrete or granite need to be there?

JERRY FALWELL, CHANCELLOR, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: Well, I think it's an expression of and acknowledgment of the fact that this is a Judeo-Christian nation, i.e., built upon the principles from out of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, that American law is founded upon the Ten Commandments and such biblical principles.

And to disallow, to disallow, such a Judeo-Christian symbol as the Ten Commandments is the height of bigotry. And the fact that there are federal judges who have literally gone nuts, legalizing sodomy and declaring the Pledge of Allegiance...

GAROFALO: OK, legalizing sodomy. I can't stand that


CARLSON: But, Barry Lynn, this does raise an interesting question.

Myron Thompson, the left-wing activist, federal judge appointed by Jimmy Carter, first who brought this to the attention of the nation, said, essentially, to acknowledge God in a public setting such as that court is a violation of the Constitution.


CARLSON: You can't believe that, though.

LYNN: No. And, in fact, he didn't say that.

What he said was, when you take a 2.5-ton granite monument and you place if in the middle of the judicial building in the state Capitol of Alabama, you're obviously promoting religion.


CARLSON: Why is that more offensive than putting your hand on a Bible and swearing to tell the truth?

LYNN: Well, because people have a choice, by the way, about whether they swear to tell the truth or just affirm that they're going to tell the truth.


CARLSON: They have a choice whether or not to look at the monument. You're promoting religion when you do that.

LYNN: No, not this monument. This monument is so large that it looks like an entire laundromat.


LYNN: It is a huge piece of granite. You cannot miss it. And, in fact, what our clients have objected to is the fact that they, who do not share the religious convictions of Judge Roy Moore, feel like they're second-class citizens in the one place where everyone is equal, the halls of justice. Religion should be of no consequence. And the governor and, in this case, the chief judge of Alabama, should not be promoting religion in that public space. And, by the way, this judge treats that building as if it were his own living room. If this were his living room, of course he has the right to display it. If this were a church lawn, he would have the right to place it. And, in fact, I'd like to suggest to all those people protesting down in Alabama that they join with me in urging that they remove that monument tonight and put it with reverends on a church lawn next to the courthouse, not in the courthouse, where it does not belong.

But, of course, they're more interested in getting themselves arrested to make a nonsensical point about civil disobedience.



GAROFALO: At the moment, Justice Moore is in contempt of court and violation of the Constitution. So, clearly, his ability to uphold the law is compromised. Do you support his being in contempt of court today?

FALWELL: You know, I supported Martin Luther King Jr., who did -- practiced his civil disobedience. If I had lived during the women's suffrage battle, I would have broken the law if necessary to get women the right to vote.

GAROFALO: Can I ask a question? Did you support the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

FALWELL: I would have participated in the Boston Tea Party. I would, if I'd have been asked, would have joined the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Yes, I believe that civil disobedience is an American right, if in fact something to us is worthy of taking that position.


GAROFALO: I'll take that as a no.

FALWELL: Would I have done it? I don't know what I would have done.

LYNN: You know, what Jerry Falwell just said is ridiculous.

When Martin Luther King -- and I had the privilege only once of marching with Dr. King -- when he engaged in civil disobedience, it was to expand the rights of the people, to take minorities and to give them more rights.


CARLSON: You agreed with him. You don't agree with them. That's the difference.


CARLSON: I want to ask you this question.

LYNN: Yes.

CARLSON: There are, in courtrooms across the United States, including in Alabama, sculptures of Greek gods. Judge Moore today said that there's one of Venus.

FALWELL: Yes, that's correct.

CARLSON: You're not asking anybody to cover that up.

FALWELL: That's right.

CARLSON: Even though it's an important religious symbol, because your beef is not with religion. It's with Judaism and Christianity, isn't it?

LYNN: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. In fact...

CARLSON: Then explain -- explain the principle, then.

LYNN: Well, the principle is, we probably shouldn't have gods and goddesses displayed in courthouses. But I don't know of anybody -- and, certainly, I don't think there's anybody in this audience that happens to believe in Athena anymore. Perhaps they do.


LYNN: This is about a judge...

CARLSON: What's the principle?

LYNN: This is about -- the principle is the same.


CARLSON: It's a good line, but it doesn't matter. It's a religion.


LYNN: No, here's the principle. The principle is that no one should make this a country where a judge, a state judge, actually defies the Constitution of the United States and treats with contempt every religion with which he disagrees.

When he was asked at the trial whether he, in fact, cared about what Hindus thought, he said he wasn't even sure Hinduism was a religion. This is an egomaniacal man that makes the egos of the four of us pale in comparison.

CARLSON: And that's hard to do.

(LAUGHTER) GAROFALO: I think the problem here that some people have, myself included, is with -- I believe there's so much religious hypocrisy here.

I don't understand this sort of the "my way or the highway" attitude that gets in the way of good government and law. I also don't understand the pro-life, pro-gun, pro-war, pro-death penalty thing, but that's a whole another show.


GAROFALO: But I also want to know why it is that people like yourself and the president and Justice Moore feel like their religion is the only one, their philosophies and ethos are the only one that should rule the community and there's no tolerance for any other opinion about homosexual lifestyles or anything like that.

FALWELL: Janeane, President Bush doesn't feel like that. Just because you're a liberal, radical Democrat and you hate George Bush...

GAROFALO: Yes, liberal is a good thing to be. Liberal is a good thing to be.


GAROFALO: That's ridiculous to use that as a tool


FALWELL: George Bush happens to be a loving husband who respects the religions of all people, but who does believe that his faith in Christ is real, has no embarrassment at reading the Bible and praying.

And this Judge Moore, I know him. I was there last Saturday with 15,000, among whom were Jewish rabbis, Catholic priests, people of all stripes, who are saying that to deny the right to public speech


GAROFALO: Who's denying anyone the right to public speech?


CARLSON: Actually, I'll tell you who it is. I'm going to have to deny everybody's right to public speech.


CARLSON: Mr. Falwell...

FALWELL: On that monument is not only the 10 Commandments, but on that monument also the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and many other documents. And it is ridiculous that anti-Christians groups like Barry Lynn and the ACLU should run this country.


CARLSON: And I'm afraid we're going to have to go to a commercial.

GAROFALO: You're such a hypocrite. I'm so sick of that.

CARLSON: Can you sum it up in four seconds?

LYNN: Yes.

Is this a rule of law that we have in this country or the rule of men? And the answer is a rule of law. This judge ought to become a TV preacher and stop pretending that he's a judge who cares about America.


FALWELL: This judge is an American hero, Barry. And you're a fraud. Barry, you're not even ordained.


FALWELL: You call yourself Reverend Barry Lynn. You've never pastured a church in your life.


LYNN: Yes, I did. That's because I'm an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. And I don't need the government to promote my religion. I can do it myself.


FALWELL: You carry that title Reverend Lynn to make people think that you are tolerant Christian minister. You are not one. You're a total fraud.


CARLSON: Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Virginia, thanks so much. Barry Lynn from Americans For Separation of Church and State, thank you.

LYNN: Thank you.

GAROFALO: Thank you.

CARLSON: Fun, fun, fun.

In just a minute, Wolf Blitzer will update the news headlines. And then, in "Rapid Fire", Janeane Garofalo and I will decide whether the Ten Commandments should stay put.

Stick around -- not that anyone will listen, necessarily.





CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

It's time for "Rapid Fire." Our guests have gone home. Janeane Garofalo and I will try to make sense of what they have said.

Janeane, I'm actually for the separation of church and state. When they get together, it's bad for both. But this is ludicrous. This is just some monument outside a courthouse. This is not a theocracy. And the phoniness of Barry Lynn's argument is obvious, because it's only Christianity and Judaism that bother him. No other religion gets his hackles up.

GAROFALO: That's not true.

I would say the problem is people like Jerry Falwell and the other zealots. I don't care about the monument either. That doesn't bother me at all. But the thing is, can you not funnel God, just without that slab? Can you not understand that there needs to be a law? You can't just have any judge or any government official saying: I don't agree with that. I believe in this religion, so, therefore, I'm not going to advocate this law. I believe this in thing, so I'm going to ignore


CARLSON: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. There's no evidence that Judge Moore has said: Because of my Christian belief, I'm not going to uphold this law.

GAROFALO: Oh, no. Don't you think for a second he


CARLSON: No, no, that's totally ridiculous.

GAROFALO: First of all, he's in contempt of court right now, so he's not upholding the law. He's in contempt of court and he's in violation of the Constitution, so he clearly is not...


CARLSON: No, no, no. You totally missed it. In executing his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, there's no evidence that he has said, well, this law is wrong.


GAROFALO: You know he'll not be able to execute his job description. This gentleman, clearly -- he put that slab there in the middle of the night, refuses to take it away. And now he's got people on the ground crying.

And then I also want to point out that that liberal bashing thing is so tired. That liberal bashing thing is so tired...

CARLSON: I don't think it's quite as tired as the right-wing bashing, though.

GAROFALO: ... from Jerry Falwell.

CARLSON: But we disagree.

It's time to ask our audience question of the Day. Take out your voting devices and tell us, should the monument be removed? Press one for, yes, the Ten Commandments are scary. Take them away at once. Press two for, no, leave the monument where it is. We'll have the results after the break.

And in "Firebreak," get out the fire and brimstone. We'll let our viewers into the Ten Commandments debate.

And later tonight, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor will join Paula Zahn to discuss the Ten Commandments controversy.

We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time for "Fireback."

But first, our highly scientific audience poll, in which we asked, should the monument be removed? Republicans pretty evenly split, though Democrats not; 85 percent of Democrats terrified of the Ten Commandments, think they ought to be taken off that lawn ASAP.


CARLSON: Interesting.

GAROFALO: I can't stand when you do that.

CARLSON: Yes, I like doing it, though.


GAROFALO: OK, I'm going to read the e-mail.

"Should a chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court be held to the same standards as the rest of us? If I was in contempt of court, wouldn't I be sent to jail? What makes him so special?"

Thank you, Norman Walters of Radcliff, Kentucky. CARLSON: I guess he's...

GAROFALO: I read that with a weird inflection. So sorry.

CARLSON: Supreme Court justice. That makes him special.

Mylene McClure of Mesa, Arizona, writes: "God and church are not the same thing. Separation of God and country, not now, not ever. P.S., I'm a Democrat."

All right, but not for long, I suspect.


GAROFALO: This is from Susqueh from Lititz, Pennsylvania: "With all of the problems in this world today, we need more God, not less. There is nothing in the Ten Commandments to denigrate human beings."

No one's saying that it is, but I think it's a real -- people just think that the Ten Commandments and that rock is going to solve everything. But what needs to happen is, people need to treat each other better. Legislation has to change. The economy has to change.

CARLSON: I actually agree. But...

GAROFALO: I mean, it's ridiculous to let yourself off the hook and say, we just need to pray and everything will be better. It doesn't get better, just praying and looking at a rock.


CARLSON: I'm not arguing that. It's just -- I understand. Some people really are so afraid of those commandments.

Bruce Dan writes: "It's great to see Janeane as co-host. This is the America we love, not the wimpy, 'I'm afraid to speak my mind because people might think I'm not patriotic' America we've seen too much of lately."




CARLSON: You'll notice that Dan, though, is from Canada.

GAROFALO: He's from Canada!

CARLSON: Which is a foreign country. I don't think foreigners ought to be allowed to comment on our country.


CARLSON: Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I'm Ariel (ph). I'm from Manchester, Connecticut.

And my question for either of you is, which Democratic candidate for presidential candidacy will be most affected if Wesley Clark enters the race?

GAROFALO: Oh, wow. That's a good one. I don't know. I think that Wesley Clark is going to be so popular, because I think people like the idea of a moderate -- if he is a Democrat, because he might be an independent -- a moderate Democrat who has a military background. I think people like that.

CARLSON: I don't think there's any question John Kerry would be hurt most.

GAROFALO: Yes, I guess...

CARLSON: But you'll get a chance to find out, because I think we're going to have General Wesley Clark here in the studio here tomorrow on CROSSFIRE. And we'll try to get him to...


GAROFALO: Howard Dean, too, I think, maybe.

CARLSON: Howard Dean, because his military record vs. General Wesley Clark's...


GAROFALO: No. I mean it might harm him


GAROFALO: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

From the left, I'm Janeane Garofalo. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE.


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