Ala. Gov. Robert Bentley talks about his Christian faith, stirs up hornet’s nest
Alabama Rep. Gov. Robert Bentley stirred up a hornet’s nest among critics when he spoke at a church recently and said that Americans who are not part of the Christian family are not brothers and sisters.
In his Martin Luther King Jr. Day message, Bentley told parishioners at the King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery that Christians accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and are part of the Christian family, according to CBS News.
Bentley said, “There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have, if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister,” CBS News reported.
Bentley added, “Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother,” according to CBS News.
Bentley, who is a deacon at First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, said that although he was elected as a Republican, he will be “the governor of all the people. I am colorblind,” according to UPI.
Bentley’s comments drew the ire of atheists, including David Silverman, president of American Atheists. Silverman said Bentley’s comments are “bigoted,” and show that Bentley “puts his bible above the Constitution of the United States,” CBS News reported.
Silverman added, “Being the governor of all people means that you are a representative of all people. It certainly does not mean that you abuse your position to push your religion on people who differ from your faith,” according to CBS News.
Bill Nigut, southeast regional director of ADL told CBS News Bentley’s comments are “offensive,” raise the question of whether “non-Christians can expect to receive equal treatment during his tenure as governor,” and “suggest that he is determined to use his new position to proselytize for Christian conversion.”
Nigut told CBS News that if this is the case, “He is dancing dangerously close to a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids government from promoting the establishment of any religion.”
Choice of words
Rev. David Freeman, senior pastor of Weatherly Heights Baptist Church questioned Bentley’s choice of words saying it “points to one of the greatest failures of fundamentalist Christian theology. The greatest Christian theology entreats us to see all human beings as our sisters and brothers,” UPI reported.
Bentley said, after his speech, that he had no intention to insult anyone, the AP reported.
Gil McKee, a senior pastor at Bentley’s church said, “strong Christian faith is what causes [Bentley] to love other people, no matter who they are, black, white, rich, poor, Christian or not,” according to the UPI.