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Secession Day event held at Roy Moore's foundation





2/19/2010
PHILLIP RAWLS
The Associated Press        

(AP) — MONTGOMERY, Ala. - An event commemorating Alabama's secession from the United States in 1861 will be held Saturday in Montgomery at the Foundation for Moral Law, where Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Moore serves as president.

Speakers for Alabama Secession Day Commemoration include Franklin Sanders of West Point, Tenn., a board member of the League of the South, which supports another Southern secession. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the League of the South as a hate group and has been critical of Saturday's gathering.

Rich Hobson, executive director of the Foundation for Moral Law, said he agreed to let organizers use meeting space in the foundation's building in downtown Montgomery. Hobson said Moore was unavailable for comment, but that Moore knew nothing about the arrangements.

"While the Foundation for Moral Law owns the building, it is not involved in the meeting," Hobson said Thursday.

Others on Saturday's agenda include Rev. Chuck Baldwin of Pensacola, Fla., who was the Constitution Party's nominee for president in 2008. Baldwin has written that the leaders of the Confederacy were not racists and "the South was right in the War Between the States."

The event is being organized by Pat Godwin of Selma, who caused a stir in 2000 when she and others erected a statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest defended Selma in April 1865, but it was what he did later to help lead the Ku Klux Klan that caused protests over the statue.

"It's quite the hate fest going on at the foundation," said Heidi Beirich, director of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Godwin said the law center criticizes the event each year and doesn't understand its purpose. "This is a historical commemoration day," she said.

The Montgomery-based law center monitors hate groups, compiles statistics on hate crimes, and is home to a civil rights memorial.

The law center sued Moore after he used his position as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court to erect a Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building. A state court removed Moore from office in 2003 when he refused to abide by a federal court order to remove the monument.

Moore is now seeking the Republican nomination for governor in the primary June 1.

Godwin said organizers will take up donations Saturday and the money will be given to the foundation to cover the cost of using the meeting space.

Hobson said the meeting space is available for a variety of functions, ranging from weddings to causes.

Alabama's secession occurred on Jan. 11, 1861. The publicity for Secession Day Commemoration say it's being held in February to make it closer to the day that Jefferson Davis became the president of the Confederate States. Godwin said organizers have used the state Capitol for the previous eight events.

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