(RNS) An Alabama judge who secretly placed a 5,280-pound version ofthe Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state judicial building couldfind himself on the other side of the bench after two lawsuits werefiled that challenge his action.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore first gained national noticewhen he was a circuit judge who displayed a copy of the commandments inhis Gadsden, Ala., courtroom. He extended the practice when he moved amonument of the holy laws in the middle of the night last summer to thejudicial building's rotunda.

One lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalfof a Montgomery, Ala., attorney who believes the monument should beremoved because it represents a state endorsement of religion, theAssociated Press reported.

"We are a diverse nation and this is a time for us to celebrate thatdiversity instead of to push some people away," said Steve Glassroth, anattorney who often visits the building in Montgomery. "The monumentcelebrates a particular brand of religion."

The second case was filed by Americans United for Separation ofChurch and State and by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama,also on behalf of Alabama lawyers regularly doing business in thebuilding.

"As a Christian minister I believe in the Ten Commandments, but Ialso believe in the separation of religion and government," said theRev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, in a statement."This monument belongs in church, not the courthouse.


The AP reported that Scott Barnett, spokesman for Moore, said thejudge had not seen the lawsuits and declined to comment.

C. 2001 Religion News Service