UPDATE: Gov. Bentley apologized for his remarks late yesterday largely after pressure from the Jewish community and others offended by his exclusionary statements. You may wish to acknowledge his apology, but he still needs to be educated by freethinkers about why his statements were inappropriate. (See news coverage about his apology.)
Moments into his new administration on Monday, Jan. 17, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told a Baptist church congregation: "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."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Bentley a letter of objection.
"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," said Bentley, former deacon of First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. "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."
"These comments are divisive and exclude non-Christians and nonbelievers from their own government and communities," notes Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. "Governor Bentley is the top executive of Alabama, not the top preacher. He governs by the authority — not of Jesus — but of our entirely secular and godless Constitution."
The governor represents all citizens of the state of Alabama, including non-Christians and nonbelievers. Such divisive comments turn nonbelievers and non-Christians into political outsiders in their own community and government.
Government officials should not use their elected position to promote their personal religious views. The Constitution guarantees freedom of and from religion.
Governor Bentley's comments show great disrespect for and are exclusionary of nonbelievers, who comprise 15% of society (ARIS 2008), and those of minority faiths.
The Honorable Robert Bentley
Office of the Governor
600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery AL 36130
Phone: (334) 242-7100
Fax: (334) 353-0004
Remember to keep letters to the editor brief (under 150 words) and sign your name, address and phone number (for verification purposes).
Letter to the Editor
P.O. Box 1000
Montgomery AL 36101-1000
The Huntsville Times
Letter to the Editor
2317 S. Memorial Parkway
Huntsville AL 35806
The Birmingham News
Letters to the Editor
P.O Box 2553
Birmingham AL 35202
Action Alert by Bonnie Gutsch