Montgomery, Ala. More than 1,000 supporters of suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore rallied Thursday at the state judicial building to pray for the return of the justice's Ten Commandments monument to the building's rotunda.
At the rally, Christian radio talk show host James Dobson blamed the monument's removal from public view on the tyranny of the federal courts.
He said the fight was about "an unelected, nonaccountable, arrogant, imperialistic judiciary determined to shove their beliefs down our throats."
A group that sued to have the monument removed said Dobson and other religious leaders were trying to fan the United States into a full-scale culture war.
"It won't work," said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "Very few people have any interest in starting political fights with their neighbors over religion."
Moore skipped the rally, saying he didn't want people to make the fight about him rather than about the public acknowledgment of God that the monument represented.
A federal judge ruled last year that the monument, when it sat in the building's rotunda, violated the Constitution's ban against government promotion of religion. Moore refused to comply with the order to move it, was overruled by his eight colleagues on the court and was suspended. The monument was wheeled out of sight Wednesday.
Moore said he hoped for a final ruling on the issue from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alabama Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor has defended the justices' decision to move the 5,280-pound marker to avoid the state being fined. Moore has been critical of them all, as well as of Gov. Bob Riley.
Asked in an interview Thursday why he expected others to disobey the law, which led to his own suspension under judicial ethics charges, Moore said: "I was saddened and dismayed that state officials were so anxious to follow the dictates of an unlawful order and move the monument into a hallway 50 feet away to hide its contents, to hide the truth."
Scores of supporters keeping a vigil outside the building were dismayed when the granite monument was lifted from its site Wednesday and rolled by a work crew to a back room.