Gov. Robert Bentley: What Baptists thought

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) probably didn’t plan to kick off his inaugural term with a religious quarrel but he … Continued

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) probably didn’t plan to kick off his inaugural term with a religious quarrel but he fostered one when he informed non-Christians at a Monday afternoon event 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.”

The Birmingham News was the first to report his remarks. The governor was speaking at a Baptist church in honor of Martin Luther King Day and the brother/sister mention must have seemed to him like a toss-off quote in a speech about the brotherhood of man. But putting conditions on that brotherhood is what upset a lot of people.

Now this is Alabama, where politics is often mixed with prayer. It’s where former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore seemed destined to enjoy a long career atop the state’s highest court until he moved a monument to the Ten Commandments into a state judicial building in 2001. Despite thousands of protesters massed outside the building, the monument was removed, the judge lost his seat over the matter and Moore unsuccessfully ran for governor last year, losing to Bentley in the primary.

Although the new governor – and millions of evangelical Christians like him – believe that only Christians will go to heaven, they usually don’t say that in public. Because when they do, they’re accused of being intolerant and exclusionary– even after Bentley apologized Wednesday for his remarks. Universalism is in these days. Exclusivity is not.

I was curious as to what the new governor’s fellow Baptists were thinking and saying about all this. Answer: Most had run for cover. I scanned Baptist Press. Nothing. Ditto for a number of evangelical Protestant blogs, where I could find very little comment except from this American Family Association video where the host stated, “What the governor said is not foreign for us at all and for any Bible-believing Christian.”

“Fifteen years ago,” one of the panelists on the video said, “no one would have batted an eye at this.”

Well, they do now. Al Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, released a statement late Wednesday saying the governor’s comments “were completely consistent with mainstream evangelical piety and conviction” in that those who believe in Jesus are “brothers.” As for those who don’t, there’s always the hope they will come to believe in Christ.

“Gov. Bentley may have surprised some observers with his words, but not anyone familiar with the common language of evangelical Christians,” Mohler said. “With the best of intentions, Gov. Bentley may have confused his roles of governor and Sunday School teacher in those comments. Nevertheless, a closer look at his words will reveal that he meant to build bridges, not to burn them.”

You can also listen to Mohler’s thoughts on this podcast, where he explains what the governor meant. “The governor was right…there was no way to back off of that,” he said.

I called Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, for his thoughts.

“Theologically, he’s correct,” Land said. “Every Christian looks on all people as God’s children but they’re not brothers and sisters until they’re Christian. But Jesus said to love others as yourself.”

About the governor, “It shows a startling naivete,” Land added. “If I were governor of a state, I’d never voluntarily say that.”

This is not to say politicians can never touch on religion. As he announced his retirement Wednesday, Conn. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman quoted from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes that “to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

If Bentley wishes to refer to Scripture in future speeches, maybe he should heed Lieberman’s example and stick to the Old Testament.

Does Gov. Robert Bentley have the right to express his beliefs about salvation in public even though they will offend non-Christians? Tell your thoughts in the comments section.

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  • lepidopteryx

    In what context was the remark made? An address to a religious organization? Okay.An address to the state regarding affairs of the state? Highly inappropriate.I couldn’t care less if my legislators, governors, etc. consider me their spiritual sister or the milkman’s kid. All I care about is that they apply secular law fairly to all.

  • david6

    Since it was an MLK Day speech, even though it was at a church, it appears to be a speech being made in his role of governor.I don’t really care about the interpretations of what is ‘theologically correct’ from right-wing religious folks who cherry-pick what Jesus taught and ignore all of Jesus’ teachings that are too liberal for their taste. As far as I can tell, if you vote for conservative Republicans you are rejecting what Jesus taught.

  • deltdesign

    Julia,As for the Bentley comment, my question is this … in a culture where we have been consumed with our sensitivities to words, at what point do we become numb to them? Will there be a tipping point when one more critique of what someone says, because there are so many critques, simply doesn’t matter anymore?

  • areyousaying

    Or it could be because Alabama is the buckle on old the South bible belt of ignorance and Bently is another one of Palin’s white-supremacist evangelical theocons who shares Huckabee’s wet dream of overthrowing the Constitution for their twisted, Leviticus cherry-picked version of “God’s Standards”

  • david6

    It is interesting to see how, over time, Baptists go from the oppressed, complaining about the way they are being treated by the Congregational establishment in Danbury, to being the establishment, ignoring how their self-absorbed behavior offends those who are not Baptists and shows a lack of respect for our country and its constitution.Still, if Southern Baptists, a denomination created to support slavery, are finally willing to reach out to the descendants of their slaves, there is still hope that they might begin to act in the way Jesus asked them to. Next up, learning what Jesus taught about the poor.

  • lostinonespot

    I don’t care who he quotes in his (or anyone’s) speeches, I don’t care what religion he (or anyone) is. It sounds to me that the basic thought is that if one isn’t a Christian, that person isn’t equal. “I’m going to heaven and you’re not and until you believe what I believe, you are not worthy or equal.”

  • slowe111

    “…Now this is Alabama, where politics is often mixed with prayer.” This is the essence of the problem and and points to a solution. Alabamans all need to realize and appreciate the value of seperation of church and state. Not only is mixing politics and prayer dangerous it is un-American. Keep religion private at home or in your church – tolerate it NOT in politics, speeches or government actions.

  • slowe111

    “…a closer look at his words will reveal that he meant to build bridges, not to burn them.” This comes from living in a bubble, a dirth of exposure to the other ways of living in the world. It is parochial, uninformed and closed minded. Alabamans, as their governor, need to explore the world more and realize there are vialble religious options, even in Alabama! – besides christianity. I encourage them to attend a Humanist group or attend the meeting of Atheists in Huntsville on Jan. 29,30. or visit

  • kalacaw

    Governor Bentley’s facebook pages is rife with supportive comments from his constituency, but they are really assigning to him his first order of business. Thomas Jefferson specifically addressed the question of separation of church and state when he replied to the Danbury Baptist Association in January of 1802. That’s the quick answer, but it now falls to Governor Bentley to disabuse those of his constituents who erroneously believe that separation of church and state is not addressed in the constitution. If he wants to be a useful governor, he must first educate his people, because it seems that some in Alabama, as well as no shortage of fundamentalist Christians in the U.S., don’t understand that they are subscribing to essentially anti-American tenets. At any rate, if they were correct, the ECUSA would be on board with them as well. The National Cathedral would have an official alliance with the federal government instead of unofficial, and would be supported with tax dollars.

  • mbeck1

    If Bentley wishes to refer to Scripture in future speeches, maybe he should heed Lieberman’s example and stick to the Old Testament.Maybe not.If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God. . . .(Deuteronomy 13:7–11)

  • uscitizen9

    Can’t see anything wrong with what Bentley said. 1st amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”He wasn’t making a law and he was exercising his religious beliefs.

  • coachoconnorucla

    Since Jesus was always a Jew, shouldn’t the Jews be his brothers. I can’t imagine Jesus accepting most of the theories of the Council of Nicaea and I can’t imagine him sanctioning the Crusades or the Inquisition. And I definitely can’t imagine him accepting the governor as a brother, unless the governor changes his message.

  • Rongoklunk

    Even if there was a heaven I would not want to go there. All those religious types, the nuns, the Catholics, the Muslims, the Mormons. Prayers every day, continuous harp playing from the angels, Bible classes, lectures by the saints 24/7. No beer. No dope. I couldn’t stand it.Hey Jesus, if you’re reading this – I wanna go to Hell, OK? Make a note of this. I want a oneway ticket to Hell please. Pretty please.

  • SumtinWong

    If Sarah Sara was child of Jesus Christ, then might his wife be?

  • SCKershaw

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is just like the rest of humanity: not in a position to say who his “daddy” is. Until recently, we haven’t had a way to empirically establish our earthly daddies. We were forced to take the word of others. We are all a brotherhood of ignorance that is impervious to the election unprivileged certainty. That is after all, why it is called “faith”.

  • allknowingguy

    I don’t think politicians should hide their religious convictions, or lack thereof. If that is going to play a role in their decision making, then better to have it out in the open where the voters can evaluate it. The Law is a different matter though. Church and state need to be separate when it comes to the laws of the land.

  • Eli_

    // SUMTINWONG Wrote: If Sarah Sara was child of Jesus Christ, then (who) might his wife be? //Mary was his wife!

  • fare777

    Alabama is at the bottom of the states in education. As are most of the other southern states. These backward throwbacks have been a drag on the country forever. There will be no progress for the country unless we can get these folks into the real world. Enough of them!

  • Ashland

    I don’t know why you would expect the Baptist press to comment on the governor’s remarks. They did not comment because the statements are unremarkable to Christian believers. There would be no reason to “run for cover.” Cover from what? Nonbelievers?

  • tacheronb

    Politicians, just like the rest of us, are absolutely entitled to their religious beliefs, and should be able to honestly articulate their belief without ridicule when asked.It’s called live and let live.What’s so difficult to understand here?

  • Elisa2

    Mark 3:35 Luke 10:25-37 (New International Version, ©2010)The Parable of the Good Samaritan 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

  • morphex

    What a stupid question, does he have the right! And I’m glad he exercised is right, and right from the heart, too, I bet. Now I know all I need to know about him, and I thank god I do not live in Alabama, where I hope he stays. He’s exactly what a place like that needs.

  • Praja_

    There comes a time when we heed a certain callWe can’t go on pretending day by dayWe are the worldThere’s a choice we’re makin’Well, send them you your heart so they know that someone caresWe are the worldWhoa, there’s a choice we’re makin’When you’re down and outWell, well, well, let us realizeWe are the worldThere’s a choice we’re makin’We are the worldThere’s a choice we’re makin’We are the world (We are the world)There’s a choice we’re makingWe are the world (We are the world)There’s a choice we’re makin’We are the world (We are the world)There’s a choice we’re makingWe are the world (We are the world)There’s a choice we’re makin’We are the world (We are the world)

  • trobador

    Shockingly, given the prevailing hypocrisy, this man was honest and said in public what his religion teaches and what he sincerely believes. I personally find his theology repulsive and hateful, but he has a right to adhere to it.The more important question is, can he govern in an evenhanded and secular way? I kind of doubt it, and were I a voter in Alabama I’d be unlikely to vote for him because of my doubts.

  • newdadchicago

    OK, this is incredibly simple. Bentley made his comments as a public figure, as governor of all residents of Alabama. Whether he did it in a church doesn’t matter; he is the governor of all Alabamans, not just those who have declared their “faith in Jesus Christ.” Has Bentley never heard of separation of church and state???

  • seismic-2

    The Governor is of course entirely within his rights to express his belief that non-Christians are not his brothers and sisters. What matters, though, is that they are still his constituents, and they are entitled to the same rights and legal protections as his “brothers and sisters” are. Let us hope he remembers that his his sworn duties do not permit him to show favoritism to his “family”.

  • shewholives

    He’s no better than the Muslims calling all non-Muslims infidels.

  • Nymous

    If he does so as part of his official duties, NO he doesn’t have that right. He breaks the establishment clause of the First Amendment when he does. He can make a choice, either uphold his oath or find a new job. This is NOT ok however.Christian hate is all too common, and quite evil too.

  • gustav2

    They are his brothers and sisters because they are Americans. There is no other requirement.

  • DwightCollins

    not even all Christians are brothers…

  • kimmsr

    All human beings are brothers and sisters and that is what Jesus tried to get across to us. When asked “What about those others” His reply was “They are not your concern. I have other sheep in other flocks.” Anyone so bigoted to set criteria for whom his brother or sister is, “You must belong to this church.” shoulod go back and spend some time ready his bible and actually pay attention to what he is told as he reads that bible.Jesus railed against the pharisees of his day because they put impediments in the way of people then. What makes any “christian” denomination think they can do the same.

  • NYCman

    People believe what they are capable of believing. The governor believes that only Christians are going to heaven, and only such fortunate believers are brothers and sisters.Others believe heaven or hell is your state of consciousness, as it is here and now. That they aren’t places you’ll go to after death but are what your state of mind and heart are at this moment.It’s very hard to overcome conditioning. For any of us. But learning to think and intuit truth for ourselves is a good place to start.

  • mini2

    I am not sure I should want to be a limb on the governor’s “family” tree since I am confident it is crawling with lesser primates. I would, however, go back to the time “when no one would bat an eye” at this kind of religious stupidity in the hope that it 1) would not be publicized and 2) not be repeated.Alabama has greater problems than being “governed” by this neanderthal; perhaps the awaited messiah shall resolve them.

  • Carole_

    OK, Sally doesn’t like the governor. I ask once again, what is this woman doing writing a column on faith and why does the WP give her a forum???? She is an authority on nothing.

  • spidermean2

    It’s been prophesied that in the last days, people will become more stupid and unbelieving.Thank you idiots because you make the prophecy VERY ACCURATE, hence by your stupidity, you make the believers’ faith stronger.

  • noGOP4me

    Jesus would be pretty astonished to see what the 2011 American version of his teachings has morphed into. Let me see — guns for everyone, spend all our money on the military, ignore the poor and get as rich as possible, if you don’t think like us you are demons. I know a lot of evangelicals. I think they are hazy about the afterlife, but they sure love the thought of the rest of us getting eternal punishment for not having joined their Jesus fan club.

  • bpai_99

    I’m sure Christians would have no problem if a non-Christian elected official said he did not consider Christians to be his brothers or sisters.

  • mjcc1987

    How is this fake piety and “us/them” mentality any different than radical muslims? Theocracy by any name is dictatorship and christians are no different than any other fake religion – dominance is priority one. The pilgrims came to America not for freedom of religion but to institute their own theocratic state. free from other’s rule.

  • Georgetowner1

    Muslims don’t believe that Christians will go to heaven and Catholics don’t believe that Evangelicals will go to heaven so I don’t know why an Evangelical can’t express their opinion without it being seen as exclusionary. It doesn’t bother me a bit when a person of another faith states their beliefs and I’ll share mine with them if they’re interested. What Governor Bentley was saying was kinda sweet – he was inviting people to be his spiritual brother or sister by accepting Christ. So that is the opposite of exclusionary. Perhaps he shouldn’t have said it if it was a political speech but maybe he was just trying to share some good news.

  • sarahabc

    Well, he let every non-Christian in the state know he doesn’t give a flip about governing them equally unless they convert to his church. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong with that, change the religion to, well, just about any other one and think about how fired up people would be.

  • Herbert1

    Wow! a lot of nasty infuriated comments from the enlghtened ones who claim this man is somehow hateful. Christianity is a brotherhood. Just because a non christian is not your brother you don’t stop loving him. We Christians believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he is Lord and Savior. That’s our belief. That does not mean we hate others it means we love them. If you don’t have ears to hear the Truth don’t get mad at the govenor.

  • marie_hghs

    What does Matthew 19:25-26 mean when Jesus’ disciples ask Him who can be saved and Jesus replies “with men this is impossible but with God all things are possible”Marie Hughes

  • tcb700

    a) I think Land has it right. The comments though theologically correct, should be left unsaid in a public forum, even if that forum in this case was a church.b) There is a certain hypocrisy in the notion that such comments are intolerant and offensive. The intolerance actually comes from those who oppose such views and will go to any lengths to silence them on the basis of being offensive. Exclusivity may be the reality, a hard pill to swallow. One may disagree with it, but people should have the right to express it…though the context should be one that is clearly appropriate.

  • ben16

    Bentley should go a little further and explain who he thinks is a “Christian”. Since he’s a Baptist, I believe if he were truthful he’d admit that he doesn’t believe Catholics are Christians. As for Mormons, not only do Baptists not recognize them as Christians, they are commonly viewed as a cult. Of course to Baptists, Jews aren’t Christians, but they’ve never come up with a good answer for how Christians are the chosen ones going to heaven, while Jesus was a Jew.

  • doyouktt

    Bentley simply quoted scripture. It is like Chinese to a non-Christian. Secular progressives and mysticist’ hate everything about the true Jesus because is is exclusive and inclusive at the same time. John 14:6 says it all. Any time a Christian quotes the real Jesus they are ripped by athiest and biblically illiterate scholars. As they say, “it’s a Christian thing, you wouldn’t understand.” You can turn the bible into what ever you want, just stop trying to redefine the message of a single path to eternal life. If you are going to torture scripture make sure you read it all first.

  • lufrank1

    Sigh . . .I don’t know about YOU, but if I have a soul that is going to continue after death, I’d rather be with Mark Twain than with Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart, and Benny Hinn, and Governor Bentley.

  • MillPond2

    I would say to all those who strive everyday to be considerate of their fellow human beings: It doesn’t matter what a smug, hypocritical “I love you, but you’re wrong if don’t embrace my idea of Christianity” “Christian” says about your beliefs. The governor is, in the end, simply one human being with a belief system that is no more superior than yours. Conduct yourself with self confident dignity, treat others as you would want to be treated, and don’t worry about people such as Robert Bentley think about religion and salvation. If there is indeed a heaven, Mr. Bentley does not have the final say about who leads an exemplary life.

  • knowscience

    Here’s the thing. These evangelicals are so insufferable that it’s already a burden sharing the earth with them. The thought that their objective is to be in heaven (which seems to be soundproof) with Jesus is really comforting and I want to encourage them to make that journey ASAP, just so we won’t be hearing so much of that sanctimonious glad hand speechifying salvation trash.Now that’s the kind of peaceful rapture I’d welcome.

  • Bios

    Christianity is a club. Being member of a club doesn’t necessarily mean you hate other clubs. It just means you could never be a part of other clubs and vice-versa, unless they all become members of the same club. Not likely, therefore clubs are a sure means of segregation & division, often for the benefit of the club’s top management.

  • senbilboredux

    As a devout Republican and Christian, I suggest that you secular humanists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindoos, Animists, Pagans, etc., etc., spend your time contemplating the fact of your eternal damnation and not attacking this fine Christian man who is absolutely within his rights favoring his brothers in Christ in every aspect of his job and life. In fact the good Christians of Alabama undoubtedly elected him for the purpose of putting Christ first and suppressing the heathens who are dragging our Christian Nation down into perdition.

  • williamwertman

    And remember that Southern Baptists say it is OK to keep Blacks out of church. The only reason there is a Southern Baptist Convention was to support slavery. One should also note the moral regression from the emphasis of the Torah on fair and equal treatment for the stranger and Christian exclusivity. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

  • bertzel

    ~~ “…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.”~~~Jesus is NOT my ‘daddy’, GOD is. Period.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Science tell us that the Hebrew Bible should not be taken literally, and because the Gospels are a man-made sequence to the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible, so they also should only be taken in a symbolic way, not literally. They are great inspiration books, but it’s illogical to use them in a literal way. Our universe was not made in six days.

  • Farnaz2Mansouri2

    The author speculates:”If Bentley wishes to refer to Scripture in future speeches, maybe he should heed Lieberman’s example and stick to the Old Testament.”Bentley is not Jewish which is one reason why Tanakh would be inappropriate for him to “stick to.” More important, sacred texts do not have a place in American political discourse.In Bentley’s case, the best future course would be to shut up until and unless he has to say relevant to the position he holds. Until then, he should concentrate on doing the work that earns him his salary.

  • EliPeyton

    with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right

  • RNJ341

    So,”Doomsday is coming to overturn this stupidity.”Let it come, this ol’ earth needs a good laxative!

  • EliPeyton

    But the source to which I look or the aids which alone can supply my deficiencies is in the well-tried intelligence and virtue of my fellow-citizens, and in the counsels of those representing them in the other departments associated in the care of the national interests. In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.

  • docmaxx

    We will never truly have a separation between church and state until we as a species finally realize that while governments deal with reality, churches are monuments to fantasy. The dangerous notion that one’s superstition is better than another’s will always produce results that can only be described as irrational if not downright evil. Years ago, Robert Green Ingersoll said it best, “The notion that faith in Christ [or any other ‘god’] is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation, and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance called ‘faith.'”

  • rschaeffer1

    In a very narrow sense, of course he has a right to establish and communicate his identity. As Governor of all the people of Alabama, should he, not if he is interested in building a sense of total community. I congratulate him on his honesty, and I disagree with him on his theology. I believe in broad inclusion and feel that the tight boundaries drawn by many religious groups is contrary to building and maintaining community and peace. John said, God is Love. He didn’t say, a Christian God is Love, or a Muslim God or a Jewish God is Love. The Governor is a narrow thinker about the purpose of religion in the first place, but he is guided by an old and inaccurate view of what Christianity actually meant. Jesus never meant what the Governor said, but that’s a larger problem.

  • flyersout

    I grew up raised as a devoutThe governor is right, in a way. But theIt’s time for the governor and and the

  • docmaxx

    Sorry to post twice, but our founding fathers had some opinions too:

  • EdgewoodVA

    He has a right to say whatever he believes.As for his theology, I have to ask: what kind of heaven will you thumpers enjoy if your dearly beloved friends and family end up in eternal hell?

  • shobha1

    For my part I would never want to be his brother or sister or go to his exclusive heaven he is aspiring to. Bigots like him only end up diminishing their religion.

  • shrestbin

    “A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.” this is what the Washington Post quoted from one of the textbooks in Saudi Arabia while criticising that nation for teaching intolerance. Is what Bentley said any different from what is being taught in Sudia Arabia. All most all of us in the civilized world would like to leave behind us this bigotry and ignorance and move on to a new era of harmony between all humans whatever their races and religions? Whatever any religion or theology says, we know better, Is this kind of talk and opinion the precise thing that is driving the Islamic fundamentalists? We should expect better of our political and religous leaders and we deserve better.

  • microbrewjournalism

    His remarks were not appropriate. However, it is refreshing to hear a government official say who he personally thinks. The voters are better off, since they will know who they are voting for if he runs again.

  • st50taw

    A dumb question. Of course he has the right. You don’t forfeit freedom of speech because you’re elected governor. Does he have any common sense? No.

  • Frank57

    I realize that you christians are waiting for the big Jeezuz ship to take you all away to your heaven, so — two things:1. Can you please keep your hypocritical, arrogant, bigoted mouths shut until then, and2. Any way I can help you pack?.

  • elwoll

    The family of man and our brotherhood does not depend a mythical bearded ol’ man named god the father, a “son” born of a virgin (sic) who was charged with being crucified to pay the father for the sins of …. WOW!

  • gzlib

    The real irony is that most all of us who adhere to a religious philosophy do it for only one reason – we were born into it and our parents inculcated it into us. If only the saved Christians will make it to the promised land then 90% of the world’s people is doomed.

  • Martial

    The problem was the timing. Had he said this a month or so after the inauguration, none would have minded, especially if he had spoken on many other religious topics as well. In any case, the man apologized. Case closed.

  • morryb

    Another great example of the “rational” thinking that is engendered by indoctrination of children into believing superstitious mumbo-jumbo long before they have any chance of thinking for themselves. This Governor probably also believes that the world was created 6,000 years ago because that was what Jesus believed

  • potaboc

    I find it amusing that people say one should keep ones religion out of politics in a MLK day speech, since he very specifically brought religion into politics to change America, and that’s why we honor him with a day.

  • FriendofKeyserSoze

    Just because someone says that they are a Christian doesn’t make them one.

  • eezmamata

    When will the south secede and proclaim their jesuslandia already! C’mon, quit making threats and do it already.See how long the technically proficient people stick around, the scientists, the IT experts … see how long students come to your colleges and universities for an education to ready them for the modern world — not. Go ahead, revert to the iron age, worship your gods, your human sacrifices … get lost already.

  • Capn0ok

    When the seas swallow the land, Poseidon shall be lord of all!

  • joecct77

    Admittance to heaven is by God, not by man. We’ll never know for certain (except for the good thief) who is in heaven and who is not until we face Christ at the intital judgment at our death and then the public, final judgment at the end of the world.

  • iamweaver

    HonorsWar26 writes:Does it sound exclusionary? Yes. But to Christians who believe in the Scriptures, it is also the truth.”The truth? Sure. But as I posted earlier, this verse is just a restatement of a common theme in the Gospels and apostolic writings – that Jesus is the final judge of everyone. As a note – in the original language, a better translation is “through me”, not “by me”, which provides subtle emphasis on Jesus’ role as arbiter.Clearly, interpretations that “only Christians get to heaven” are flawed. The Jewish peoples will all be reconciled with God in the final days, and a number of Old Testament individuals are specifically named as being in heaven, so clearly a non-zero number are already reconciled.If those following the OT laws and not submitting directly to the grace of Jesus’ message can be lifted up, then I’m not sure exactly how a life of salvation partially through works (at least, as fruits of their agape love for others) for a non-Christian works – but it’s clearly possible.

  • twojohn6

    I fail to see why the governor’s comments have elicited such hateful responses. If you don’t agree with his religious views, so what? If you think he’s wrong, then why be offended? If a Muslim said something similar (or a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness for that matter) I wouldn’t be a bit offended since I believe they are in error. They can say what they want about my eternal destiny, so long as I’m not hated or treated with disrespect.Second, much of the responses seem to think that Christian exclusivity indicates a lack of love and respect for those “outside” the Christian faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as Christians take seriously Jesus’ exclusive statements, so also they take seriously his commands regarding love to all people. This is so clearly and demonstrably evident through the multitude of Christian charitable giving that it simply stuns me that this is ignored. Ironic that those who claim to be so open-minded and understanding of all views don’t take the time to even get a close approximation of Christian thought and practice.Third, if the issue is merely that Mr. Bentley is the governor and should not say such things in that position . . . well, a point can be made here. No one should impose their religious views upon others when speaking in an official capacity, though I see no evidence he did so. Yet we must remember that no one should have to leave their faith behind just because they happen to be in government.

  • iamweaver

    DetroitBlkMale30 writes:”As a Christian, I see how the governor misplayed this. He was caught between two realities and could have spoken more specifically in a way that would have not have been offensive to anyway. What he should have said if he was going to say something like this is: ‘Those who do not believe as I do are may not be my brothers and sisters IN CHRIST; however as fellow Alabamians(is that right?)all are my brothers and sisters in our great state and in humanity.’He needs a better speech writer.”I agree. Without the vital prepositional phrase “in Christ”, the entire tone of his message is subject to misinterpretation – and it clearly has been by many. Christians are called to love all others as themselves, and that’s absolutely a message of universal brotherhood.

  • solsticebelle

    It’s clear that despite his fake “apology,” he thinks Christians are superior to non-Christians and therefore are entitled to special treatment.Hey, evangelicals, how’d you like a Catholic governor telling you that you’re going to hell because you can’t go to confession, or a Muslim governor calling you his enemy??There is no difference between that and what Bentley said.Intolerance, bigotry, and insanity.

  • davivman

    The question posted in this article is:Does Gov. Robert Bentley have the right to express his beliefs about salvation in public even though they will offend non-Christians? This is kind of an odd question, but I’ll just go ahead and give the obvious answer. Of course he has the right to express these beliefs. We live in a country where freedom of speech and freedom of religion is so highly valued that they are guaranteed for in our Constitution. People are allowed to express their religious views publicly or privatley.On the other hand, just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean that it is right to do it. This is a more interesting question and probably should have been the question that was posed instead.

  • jasonkeel1

    Although his comments were ill-timed they are consistent with 2000 years of Christian belief. Philosophies and religions of all kinds have exclusive beliefs. Islam teaches that Muhammad is the final prophet with the final words from God about how to know Him and worship Him, and live. Buddhism teaches a particular 5 fold path to Nirvana among other things. Judaism urges people to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by keeping His Law. Secular humanism teaches us to rely on our intellect and to discard belief in the supernatural in favor of what can be proven by scientific observation. I could keep going. The fact is that everyone believes something and regards beliefs different than their as something that sets them apart. People of every belief system have abused their beliefs to dominate and hurt others. I am disappointed in many, many of the comments above for their lack of charity. Take a moment to think about how each of systems of belief is exclusive. The governor did little more than say that there are people who believe differently than me, and I wish they would see it my way. I can take that. No problem. It is part of being a mature adult to be able to listen with charity when someone expresses and opinion which I disagree with. Comments by a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, or whatever persuasion, about their differences from me are part of living in a diverse culture. I think it a sign of love from a Muslim if he or she were worried about my standing with Allah. A Buddhist who wants to tell me about how I might attain enlightenment is someone who cares about my welfare. An atheist worried that I am dabbling in religious fanaticism and could hurt myself or others is showing concern. The governor’s comments were not spoken in hateful words or in attack. I urge all of you who were provoked to grow up and see tolerance for what is. It is an attitude of live and let live, while being able to listen without taking offense when none is intended.

  • spidermean2

    “Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6)Gov. Bently did not invent this verse but the idiots just don’t know it’s in the Bible. Many Americans are not Christians. We should not be surprised if during WW3, the liberal part of it will be destroyed.”Unbelievers will be destroyed”. That is also in the Bible.Also don’t be surprised if Alabama would be unscathed.Actually, Gov. Bently was trying to help you, idiots. Sadly, his words fell on pigs ears, in which Jesus had warned will rend you if you give them pearls.

  • blasmaic

    Usually, the complaint is that the evangelicals are too familiar with others on the topic of religion. But in this case, an evangelical announces that he does not share a common religion with others who are not of his faith, and he gets criticized for that too. I liked the essay’s ending kick though. The author tells the evangelical that if he doesn’t want to catch hell for his faith, he should be like a Jew and quote only the Old Testament. Of course, there is controversy about the Ten Commandments too, and they are Old Testament scriptures. We can thank our respective Gods that no one takes the author too seriously.

  • wireman65

    Hopefully there is nothing “mainstream” about evangelical piety and conviction.

  • Utahreb

    The minute ANY politician starts spouting religion, I put him/her on my “Do not vote for” list.

  • syzito

    A liberal Jesus? Where did you get that idea? Maybe from your liberal left wing church but not from the OT or NT.Jesus was very strict on who God will bless and who will not be blessed.Jesus was very clear that there is “only” one way to achieve salvation and that way is not a liberal path.Christ said he and only he was the door to eternal salvation and that there was no other…period.Doesn’t matter if you like it or not;that is completely irrelevant.

  • bucinka8

    The issue isn’t what he said. The issue is that he said it in his official position as governor. But the column is right, we can expect no less from a state that employed a judge who thought it was okay for a particular religion’s scripture to be posted in government offices.PS@Utahreb, I’m with you.

  • mightysparrow

    “It was thru the insistence of early Baptists in America that Separation of Church and State be part of the U.S. Constitution because that is BIBLICAL.It is not because of early Baptists that separation of religion and the state is in the Constitution – it is because the writers believed that separation is necessary for freedom of religion and true democracy.Just because the bibles say something does not make it appropriate for a governor to say in a public speech. It is offensive to non-Christians to say “you are not my brother because your religion differs from mine.” And having an elected official say that in his/her official capacity is even more offensive, as this person is supposed to be serving all of the people and it begs credulity that such a biased person would do that fairly – in making laws and in exercising influence on law and policy in the state. A governor has a duty NOT to express religious bias in his official capacity, for those reasons. That’s why Jefferson called it a “wall of separation.” It has to be absolute. Unless, of course, you want religious discrimination and intolerance to be the policy of the government, as in Saudi Arabia or Iran, or with the Taliban.

  • jckdoors

    Just another example of the intolerence of the religious folks.

  • whyyesbrain

    I can’t say that I really want to be his brother. That doesn’t mean that I can’t respect his religious views and that he can’t respect mine. To my read, the only real question is whether he is implying a lack of respect for his “non-brothers” in his comment, which I think is unlikely.

  • mwcob

    He has a right to say it. And voters have a right to choose whether or not to select his name on a ballot. I’m sure he would tell me (as a Catholic) that I’m not his brother, and he’s entitled to his opinion. I’m mature enough in my faith and my self not to let it bother me.

  • iamweaver

    Yeah, it’s unfortunate when people try to use scripture to reinforce exclusion.So many misinterpret a pretty clear piece of scripture (John 14:6). Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”Nowhere in that does it say that we must all be Christians to reach the Father. It merely restates something made obvious in other passages, that Jesus will be the final judge of us all.As to whether adherents of other religions (or no religions) are heaven-bound – that’s not my call as a Christian – that’s the call of the final arbiter. My job is to love my neighbor as myself, and to treat all people as my neighbor, as the post by Elisa2 reminds us Christians.Now, I’ll be honest – the wonderful gifts that I receive during my life as a Christian, and the benefit of following the words of that final judge directly, gives me (in my opinion) a leg up. And I will always be willing to justify the hope that is in me when people ask me why I am always so joyous (as compared to being always happy). But when people of all faiths or no faith are busy feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, assisting the infirmed, or visiting the prisoner, I just fall back on the scripture line “by their fruit you will recognize them” and don’t worry much.

  • spidermean2

    Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury BaptistsTo messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.GentlemenThe affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.Th Jefferson

  • Freestinker

    Oh Brother?!

  • jscroggin

    I also see that this forum for the haters

  • uh_huhh

    JSCROGGIN, because we’re fed up with people like you shoving your superstitions down our throats. If I want to marry my partner–both of us being grown ups–who the he|| are people like you to stick your nose into it and demand that we abide by your bigotry?

  • newageblues

    Some good very strong comments by anti-dogma folks here. I think the ‘one pathway to salvation’ folks are acting like they have the souls of non-Christians in their hip pocket. It’s a commentary only on themselves.

  • newageblues

    A previous post says “I’m sure Christians would have no problem if a non-Christian elected official said he did not consider Christians to be his brothers or sisters.”

  • newageblues

    JSCROGGIN: Why all the militarized hatred from your side towards the many good people who prefer cannabis to killer alcohol? Got an answer, buddy? I didn’t think so…

  • VNvet

    The election of a man or woman to political office does not mandate a change in that person’s faith or the free speech rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. There does need to be a sensitivity to the audience being addressed if the politician wants to maintain support from that group. It is also desirable that said politician speak from personal belief rather than make pronouncements as if all must believe them. (In this case: ‘I regard you as my brother’ would seem to be taken as his personal opinion.) The balance of this issue then is to keep remarks personal and appropriate to the audience. In a Baptist church which believes and teaches Jesus’ words, paraphrasing those words is appropriate in that setting. As for Senator Lieberman, being a Jew, of course quotes from his own scriptures. Governor Bentley has the same rights to quote from his own scriptures. It is inconsistent and biased for the writer to suggest that one scripture is more appropriate than another.

  • honorswar26

    Jesus said in the Scriptures: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. NO ONE comes to the Father except by me.”Does it sound exclusionary? Yes. But to Christians who believe in the Scriptures, it is also the truth.Sounds to me like the Governor was expressing his personal religious beliefs about how those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour do not know him as a brother or sister. However, the Governor also states that he wants them to be saved from their sins and become his brother or sister in Christ.Also, please note….there is a difference between the definition of ‘brother/sister’ and ‘neighbor’. As Christians, we are called to love all of our neighbors. We love the sinner (because we are all sinners), but that does not mean that we accept the sin that our neighbor chooses to willingly do. We also love our brothers and sisters in Christ, not only as our neighbors, but also as people who we share the joy of having been born again as new creatures in Christ.There really is only one path to heaven and salvation. We, Christians, would love to share it with you because we also see it as liberating, not enslaving, our neighbors.

  • jharris99

    “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together”

  • pgibson1

    it is quite clear what the christian religion thinks of non-believers.It is that very weakness in their faith that makes it more of simple “spirituality”, and more “institution of power” say you’re compassionate? Compassion is offered only if you’re another Christian, evidently, according to some American practitioners.This politician basically spilled the beans and this is ALL apology.

  • jjedif

    As a non-believer, I almost hope that Hell exists…so I can see the looks on the faces of all the “Christians” when they realize that they are standing in the same line as I am…waiting to enter Hell.But not being a “Christian”, I just can’t bring myself to wish such a bad end on anyone, not even on these loving “Christians” who hate me with all their soul.In fact, I’ll be content to have my remains recycled by the earthworms just like theirs…as Mother Nature in Her infinite wisdom intended.

  • jjedif

    Alabama is now on the list place where I WON’T be spending any tourism dollars for the next four years. And the next time a BP spill dirties Alabama’s shores, *I* won’t be interested in hearing about it or assisting.

  • detroitblkmale30

    As a Christian, I see how the governor misplayed this. He was caught between two realities and could have spoken more specifically in a way that would have not have been offensive to anyway. What he should have said if he was going to say something like this is: “Those who do not believe as I do are may not be my brothers and sisters IN CHRIST; however as fellow Alabamians(is that right?)all are my brothers and sisters in our great state and in humanity.”He needs a better speech writer.

  • clarendon67

    When Jesus met the The Samaritan Woman, it was because of how Jesus treated her why Jesus was able to convince her that He was the Messiah. He treated her with tenderness and respect even though she was not a Jew. Please remember the Jews and the Samaritans had no kind of dealings with each other. The Jews were forbidden to talk to the Samaritans and not only that but men and women were not even supposed to be talking to each other on a one on one basis. If we would only live like Christ did and stop thinking because we are christians we are better than a person who is not a christian. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.