A phone call literally answered Richard Hahnemann's prayers.
Hahnemann, a sculptor from Huntsville, Ala., was commissioned by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to create a monument to the Ten Commandments, the sculpture now chiseled into the center of a national controversy over the separation between church and state.
"He answered my prayer in a way I could have never imagined," Hahnemann said. "God's hand has been amazingly obvious in what Judge Moore is doing."
Hahnemann, a former chemist at a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant, spoke last Saturday morning to members of the Jubilee Christian Center in Fairfax. He spoke on being the sculptor chosen to create Moore's monument — a 5,200-pound sculpture that Moore placed in the rotunda of Alabama's Judicial Building.
Members of Jubilee Christian Center expressed their support for both Moore and Hahnemann.
"This isn't a matter of establishing a particular religion; it's a matter of recognizing God as creator," said Roland Burrows, of Springfield, after listening to Hahnemann speak.
"The Ten Commandments is the cornerstone for law," said Ron Thompson, who also attended Hahnemann's discussion. "These are Ten Commandments you have to follow in life. If they remove that, you have no law."
AT THE AGE of 37, Hahnemann knew he wanted a closer relationship with God. He moved to Alabama to be closer to his family and began sculpting, something he had not done since college.
"It didn't take long to figure out not too many make a living at this and those that do, I wouldn't want to make that kind of art," Hahnemann said.
But Hahnemann continued to sculpt and prayed for five years to be able to "use my skills for His service. For someone … to find me sends me chills."
In the monument commissioned by Moore, Hahnemann included excerpts from the Ten Commandments, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Constitution of Alabama and the National Anthem.
"It's about our right to acknowledge God, which has been taken away," Hahnemann said. "It's not establishing religion, it's acknowledging God."
ON MONDAY, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will not hear Moore's appeal of a U.S. District injunction that ordered him to remove the monument from the Alabama State Judicial Building.
Moore initially placed the monument in the rotunda of the building; a panel of U.S. District Court judges held that the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
"As Chief Justice of the State of Alabama, it is my duty to administer the justice system of our state, not to destroy it," Moore said, according to court documents. "I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law."
Moore was suspended as chief justice when he refused to remove the monument after the district court decision. The justice is scheduled to go on trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on Nov. 12.
HAHNEMANN'S SCULPTURE has been moved to a non-public area of the Alabama state courthouse while the case, Moore v. Glassroth, was being appealed.
"It is time for Moore to face facts: he's on the wrong side of the Constitution. Religious symbols belong in our homes and houses of worship, not our courthouses," wrote Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which has a chapter in McLean. The organization was founded in 1947, specifically to educate Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
The Foundation for Moral Law, however, says that the monument is "a testament to the truth that the institutions of our society are founded on the belief that there is an authority higher than the authority of the State."