Interview With Pat Mahoney
Aired August 26, 2003 - 14:37 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A violation of the Constitution or defiance of a higher power? That in a nutshell is the dispute over the Ten Commandments display in Alabama's judicial building. Among its defenders, the Reverend Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. He joins us now from Montgomery.
Reverend, I'm curious to know are you going to block efforts to move this monument?
REV. PAT MAHONEY, CHRISTIAN DEFENSE COALITION: Well, we have said all along, Kyra, that our goal is to peacefully and prayerfully ensure that the monument stays in the building. Last week 22 of us were arrested for doing that and we're delighted to report after seven days, after the federal court has asked and ordered that the monument be removed, it's still here.
So we want to invite all Christians, all people who cherish free speech and religious liberty, come to Montgomery, Alabama, stand for justice and stand against religious tyranny.
PHILLIPS: Reverend, are you going to pursue other legal options? Sounds like you've got quite a fan base, Reverend.
MAHONEY: Well, I don't think they are my fan base, Kyra. I think they are the fan base for the First Amendment and justice. They are a great group of people. When folks are saying this is anarchy, I just say, look at these anarchist. This is just a great group here of people who are standing.
Yes, tomorrow, at 3:00 p.m. we're in the U.S. district court in Mobile, Alabama. We're asking a federal judge to enjoin the eight associate justices of this court to prevent them from removing the monument because, Kyra, we believe the First Amendment protects religious freedom, not crushes it.
PHILLIPS: Reverend, through all of this what have you learned about politics, about religion?
MAHONEY: Well, I think, Kyra, what I've learned working in Washington, D.C., I've learned that many people say they support principles and freedoms, but when it comes down to it, there are very few heroic and courageous like the Chief Justice Roy Moore who's willing to go to jail, lose his job, face fines.
Even if one would disagree with what his beliefs are, this is a man of great principle and courage sadly lacking in most publicly elected officials.
PHILLIPS: You sound like his P.R. person, if he were to run for office.
MAHONEY: Well, listen, I don't live in Alabama, I would love to vote for him. He's not about politics.
You know I think all Americans respect courage and people who act on their principle. I know do even if I disagree with them. And that's what we're seeing here.
So, Kyra, we just say, folks, come to Montgomery, come on down. We have food, housing, we're inviting you. We'll help cover your gas money. Get down here and stand for something that is historic.
Fifty years ago they put -- they tried to put Rosa Parks on the back of the bus here and a civil rights movement was birthed. Today they are trying to put religious expression on the back of the bus we are praying that a new movement of religious freedom is birthed in America.
PHILLIPS: Well, Reverend, once that monument is moved, what's next for you? What is next for all the folks behind you?
MAHONEY: Well, practically speaking, we're not going anywhere once it is moved. We still have a lot planned. And we think it is even more important for people to come down, to look through the large plate glass window at where this monument once stood and say this is the future of America if we don't act.
On a political basis, the next judges who come up for the supreme court, it's going to be a referendum here in Alabama on the Ten Commandments. And finally we'll go back to Washington and push for federal legislation to protect the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places.
PHILLIPS: Reverend Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, shepherding his flock there on the steps of Montgomery. Thank you for your time, sir.
MAHONEY: Thank you for having me.
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