Moral Low Ground

US Government

Alabama Governor: “If You’re Not Christian, You’re Not My Brother”

bentleyI knew this was going to be a real doozy when I got a rare Facebook message from my father, who actually lives in Alabama, telling me he expected to read MLG’s take on incoming Republican governor Robert Bentley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech. I know dad doesn’t care much for politics, nor does he share many of my progressive views. What treasure from down in Dixie awaited me on the other side of the Google-search rainbow? What could possibly warrant a double-dose of daily douchebags?

“I was elected as a Republican candidate,” Governor Bentley began, speaking in the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, once led by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., “But once I became governor… I became the governor of all the people,” he continued. So far so good. “I intend to live up to that. I am color blind.” Very nice to know, Governor. Please, continue.

“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.”

But what about those of us who aren’t Christian? Who aren’t “saved”? In whom the Holy Spirit does not live like some uninvited, soul-squatting tramp?

“Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. Soanybody 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.”

Jesus Fucking Christ on a biscuit with grits n’ gravy!!!

First of all, Governor Bentley’s despicably ignorant comments don’t bother me much; I don’t want to be his brother. But setting that aside, and all basic “separation of church and state” notions while we’re at it, Bentley’s comments send a chilling message to all non-Christian Alabamians. And that’s around 450,000 people. There are Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, atheists, and many others living there in that  somewhat cosmopolitan (immigrant-wise) state. Should these folks be afraid of being treated unequally in Robert Bentley’s Alabama?

“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,” said a shocked Bill Nigut, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. Nigut points out that if Bentley is using his position to evangelize, “he is dancing dangerously close to a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which forbids government from promoting the establishment of any religion.”

“I… think he needs to be a little more sensitive to the fact that there are many different types of Alabamians,” opined Sheldon Rosenzweig, a Jew from Tuscaloosa. “Many of the people in Alabama who are not Christian are good people.”

What’s even more disturbing is that Governor Bentley’s comments came not only in a church once led by Martin Luther King Jr. but also on Martin Luther King Day. Has not the governor heard King’s timeless words about “all of god’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics” joining hands together? It certainly seems as if he has not.

I once lived in Alabama, ever so briefly back in my youth, and the experience, although one I would never want to repeat, wasn’t particularly horrific except when it came time to find something other than greasy fast-food to eat. Being a mixed-race “Blaxican” moving down there from New Jersey, I expected to encounter some pretty heavy racism. I experienced nothing of the sort. The people there were friendly and welcoming.

They are, however, extremely religious and in Fort Payne, Alabama, that means extremely Christian. You couldn’t buy alcohol, not even beer, when I lived there in the 1990s, but there are 48 churches listed in the Yellow Pages…  in a town of 12,000 people. I suspect the majority of them voted for Governor Bentley. I also suspect many of them nodded approvingly while listening to his speech. But I am not in the business of suspecting, so I will hold further comment until I find out what the people of Alabama really think about Bentley’s shockingly intolerant comments.

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