So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, And The Battle For Religious Freedom, by Roy Moore with John Perry
When one reads the memoirs of political or institutional leaders or even celebrities in general, one often gets the sense that the writer is trying to justify their own life and their own behavior and place their conduct within the larger context of the history and controversies of their times . At times, though, the author can provide a refreshing honesty about their lives and their behavior and their motivations in a way that no one else would be able to provide, and it is largely for hearing their own perspective and their own side of the story that we look for insight from memoirs and autobiographies of famous people at all, even knowing how unlikely they are to give the whole truth. Here we find an author who is quite candid about his combination of fierce principles and his candid acknowledgement in his occasional lack of political savvy in operating according to those principles. In a way, this memoir reads like a combination between an altar call and a Greek tragedy where one knows that despite being a noble and decent man that things are not going to end well for him. The result is a fascinating book that speaks to the danger of corrupt political elites to our freedoms as believers, matters that are just as timely now as they were when the book was written.
The contents of this book reflect its dual goals of being the memoir of Roy Moore, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, most famous for his brave defense of the ten commandments as the foundation for American law and also a book that candidly discusses the dangers our corrupt political elites, including corrupt judges and the ACLU, pose to the freedoms of America’s Christian population. The book begins with a call for the acknowledgement of God by the state, and then moves to a discussion of the childhood and young adulthood of the author, who grew up in rural poverty and received his education through the United States Military Academy before showing himself to be a patriotic officer in Vietnam at some risk to himself. A discussion of his early problems by being a forthright but politically tone-deaf reformer follows, and then his appointment as a judge marks the beginning of what was to be everlasting conflict between him and the corrupt ACLU, whose history and machinations the author ably discusses. The author discusses his activities as a judge and the way that he spent his judgeship largely under attack, having to defend himself in Star Chambers due to politically motivated attacks. What comes through loud and clear in the narrative is that despite the widespread popularity of Moore’s beliefs and behavior among the good people of Alabama, he happened to be most unpopular among the radical community of judges who ultimately held his fate in their unworthy hands, with inevitable and lamentable consequences.
Besides telling the life story of one of contemporary America’s heroes of faith and giving a vivid demonstration of the dangers that corrupt judges hold to the religious freedoms this nation was founded on, this book has a lot to offer in unexpected ways. For one, this book demonstrates the conflict between Christian and patriotic ideals and a contrary tendency, showing the roots of the cultural wars we deal with today. For another, this book gives anecdotal evidence about the real reason for the near annihilation of Southern democrats today in their departure from a belief in and respect for God. Rather than racism being the reason for Republican gains in the South, it appears that religion is the decisive element that brought Republicans to power in the South in recent decades, as it became more and more difficult for believers to stomach the behavior of that party’s political leadership. This book is, at 260 pages, a thoughtful memoir that provides a timely reminder for Americans of faith in the way that many judges are a threat to our ability to worship freely and to honor God, as well as the ways in which politicians pander to religious belief in campaigns but often feel constrained from acting in accordance with religious beliefs in office, one of the root causes of our current crisis in political legitimacy.
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