'Roy's Rock' Hits Bottom

After months of traveling around the country on the back of a flat-bed truck, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument finally reached its ultimate destination today: a rally on the National Mall in the heart of Washington, D.C.

The event, which reportedly cost more than $1 million to stage, was organized by Bishop John Gimenez, a longtime associate of Pat Robertson, and a group calling itself American Veterans for Domestic Defense.

Starting at 6 a.m., supporters gathered around an enormous stage to pray and fast (although event vendors were selling food) in the hopes of stopping the "severe moral decline" tearing apart America.

Organizers had expected 40,000 to 50,000 attendees, but by 9 this morning it appeared that only a few hundred to a thousand had appeared. Web sites and materials promoting the event had heavily played up the appearance of Moore's two-and-a-half ton monument.

Moore and his rock were the center of the Religious Right universe throughout much of 2003, when he stubbornly resisted an order from a federal judge to remove the religious display from state property. Moore's defiance resulted in his removal from the state high court.

Those who turned out to gaze at the monument had to work hard to find it. Event staff seemed unaware that the rock was even there.

Finally, a man staffing a press tent pointed to the back of the crowd, off to the far-side of Mall, past a row of portable toilets and declared, "It's over there."

Sure enough, this monument, the source of strong debate and fiery rhetoric, had found its way to the periphery of the rally. As families and small groups posed for a photograph next to the monument, a litany of speeches from the stage far behind demanded that fundamentalist Christianity serve as the basis for U.S. public policy.

Once a focus of passion, "Roy's rock" now rested, largely neglected, a sideshow to an extreme Religious Right gathering.