The newly-inaugurated governor of Alabama caused controversy at a church meeting with an evangelical speech declaring that people who had 'not accepted Jesus as their saviour' are not his brothers and sisters.
Speaking to the congregation at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church just moments after his official inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, Robert Bentley made comments which were later described by The Anti-Defamation League as 'shocking'.
Bentley told the crowd in Birmingham that he considered anyone who believed in Jesus to be his brothers and sisters regardless of color, but anyone who isn't a Christian doesn't have that same relationship to him.
He said: '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.
'If the Holy Spirit lives in you that makes you my brothers and sisters.
'Anyone who has not accepted Jesus, I want to be your brothers and sisters, too.'
He made the speech in Birmingham, Alabama, the home of Martin Luther King's campaign for civil rights with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1963.
The Anti-Defamation League, which fights discrimination against Jewish people, said it sounded as if Bentley was using the office of governor to advocate for Christian conversion.
'If he does so, 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,' said Bill Nigut, the ADL's regional director.
'His comments are not only offensive, but also raise serious questions as to whether non-Christians can expect to receive equal treatment during his tenure as governor.'
Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, said he wasn't sure how Bentley's remarks were intended.
'Does it mean that those who according to him are not saved are less important than those who are saved?' said Taufique.
'Does he want those of us who do not belong to the Christian faith to adopt his faith?
'That should be toned down. That's not what we need.
'If he means that, I hope he changes it. We don't want evangelical politicians. They can be whatever in their private life.'
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
New Alabama governor wants all constituents to be born again.
From the Daily Mail: