Organizers of the annual Pierce County Prayer Breakfast usually bring in speakers who aren’t controversial figures. This year is an exception.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who gained national attention for defying a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state building, will deliver the message at the prayer breakfast in Tacoma on Friday.
The event typically draws about 1,500 people, including a variety of public officials.
Moore said he will speak on the “relationship of God to the Constitution.”
That includes the controversy over his refusal in 2003 to follow a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building. Later that year, Moore was thrown off the bench by a judicial ethics panel for having “placed himself above the law.”
Moore, a Republican, was re-elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012.
Moore maintains he was legally correct to protect the biblical monument and that the judge who ordered it removed from the building contradicted the U.S. Constitution.
He told The News Tribune that his fight “was about acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God, upon which this nation was founded.”
“I’m sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States,” Moore said in a phone interview. “I can’t apologize for doing this.”
Despite Moore’s efforts, the 5,280-pound granite monument was moved and is now on display at a church in Gadsden, Ala.
Moore made news again in February when he mailed letters to all 50 governors, urging them to support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Washington and 16 other states and the District of Columbia.
“Even in Washington, marriage is historically between one man and woman,” Moore said.
He said the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977 recognized heterosexual marriage as the “foundation of the family.”
When asked if he is fighting a losing battle against gay marriage, Moore said, “You fight battles for right and wrong.
“You never lose when you fight for the right,” he said.
Moore, 67, is unapologetic for supporting the monument and opposing same-sex marriage. He said people have the right to disagree with him.
“Sometimes the truth offends people,” he said.
Moore is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Vietnam War. He is a member of a Southern Baptist congregation.
Keith Beasinger, president of the group putting on this week’s prayer breakfast, said there hasn’t been any push-back against Moore speaking at the event.
“We were a little concerned about that,” said Beasinger, president of the Greater Tacoma Christian Laymen’s Outreach.
“It was not our goal for this to be a political thing,” Beasinger said. “We just knew that he took a strong stance for his faith in a difficult situation.
“That’s what we are really excited about is his testimony; not his political testimony, but his Christian testimony.”
The crowd always includes a mix of elected officials, including judges. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, or one of their representatives, give greetings to the audience.
This will be the 36th annual Pierce County Prayer Breakfast. Past speakers have included Lincoln High football coach and former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, actor Stephen Baldwin and former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole.
Pierce County Prayer Breakfast
When: 6:50 a.m. Friday; doors open at 6:30 a.m.
Where: Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall.
Cost: $35. Call board president Keith Beasinger, 253-208-3422.
Online: prayer breakfast.info.
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647