Alabama governor touches off controversy with Christian comments
January 18th, 2011
02:57 PM ET
4 years ago

Alabama governor touches off controversy with Christian comments

Update: The governor later apologized.

(CNN) – Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley is kicking off his first term in office with a bit of controversy, telling a church audience Monday that he only considers Christians to be his "brothers and sisters."

"Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters," he told parishioners at a Baptist church in Montgomery Monday shortly after being sworn in. "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."

"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley also said, according to the Birmingham News. "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."

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Bentley's communications director, was not immediately available for comment but told the Birmingham News that Bentley "is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike."

Bentley also celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech and said he will govern in accordance with King's teachings.

'I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor ... I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind," Bentley also said.


Filed under: Religion • Robert Bentley
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Floyd

    So, just for a little thought experiment, replace the word "Christianity" with the word "Islam" and "Jesus" with "Mohamed", and tell me how you feel about someone expressing their religious views from public office.

    January 18, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Jaywing

    Typical closed-minded, anti-rational, bible-thumping bigot. When will these fundemental fantasy freaks pull their collective heads out of the 12th century and into the 21st? My god man, evolution gave you a big brain - use it!

    January 18, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. P'cola

    As a non-Christian I do not know what the problem is. As long as he governs according to public law equally-why does it matter? Perhaps to avoid controversy he may have used different words. But personally, I like knowing where a person is coming from.

    January 18, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Andy

    "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." What can I say, I am not Christian but I am republican and I am glad to say at least I am not crazy like this old fool. Repubs better do a good job of improving their image. Right now we fit the Sarah Palin Stereotype of Gods, Guns and Lunacy and where grown men like Boehner cry to get votes. I like scott brown of Massacheussets, at least he can think for himself and not discriminate on the grounds on religon.

    January 18, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. GOP Taliban Victim

    Translation = Only Anglo-Saxon Baptists are "his people"...Catholics are anyone else not part of his klan are not worthy. Only in the land of the Confederates would a Governor say such a thing. We are suppose to be the UNITED not the DIVIDED states of America. So much for the Puritan Fundamentalists vision for following the Constitution. The founding fathers were freemasons and believed very much not mixing religion with politics.

    January 18, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. SayWhat

    Is Alabama still part of the union? Doesn't the Constitution, you know that rascally document that the GOP likes to read and recite when it suits their purposes say something about the separation of church and state? Is the Holy Spirit now on the GOP payroll?

    January 18, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. Mike in NC

    What's the big deal? Does someone being sworn in with hand ON the Bible need to renounce Jesus Christ? He is a Christian. The voters voted this man in. They know who he is. I just hope YOU know who He is too!

    January 18, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    He's simply saying according to the Bible you must accept Jesus Christ as your savior and that God is, "I AM", The only way to be washed free of your sins. then you become brethern of all Christians. Amen and bless the comin of Our Father's Son, Jesus Christ. Amen forever. Try it brethern Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers and Independents you just may like it. We were all put on this earth by our father. Jesus paid with his life for our sins. Do you think he would be proud of us now with all this hate talk. REALLY. What dop we gain by bashing our fellow man. If you don't like a certain person or party then simply don't vote for them , but don't get on here just to talk dirt on your fellow man be he black, brown, yellow, red or white. Color of your skin will never get you into heaven. If you don't believe then that is up to God our father as to what will happen with. I pray for you everyday so that you maay change and accept Jesus as your savior. Live holy and follow the ten Commandments.

    January 18, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Danomatic

    Just because he has narrow religious views doesn't mean he won't be a good governor. Though history tells us differently

    January 18, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  10. Sametestsameresults

    Another prosthletizing idiot, elected to office. America what is wrong with governoring without predjudice?

    January 18, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. rc shoun

    well...he is right..so what...if you dont agree move on ,,,there is no story here...

    January 18, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  12. M

    And this is the very same guy who had his name legally changed to Dr. Robert Bentley, MD so it would show up that way on the ballot. He never let anyone forget that he's a doctor, and, believe me, I know of quite a few doctors who find this very insulting.

    January 18, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Bill

    More bigotry from the far right. No wonder they are irrelevant.

    January 18, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Redleg

    The burden is on him to prove that he is not anti-semitic or a raging bigot. I guess being human is not enough for him. If this is a Christian what should we make of Jesus? - By their fruits ye shall know them.

    January 18, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. chuck

    This is the reason we push secularism around the world. When these looneys get into power, they begin dividing the believers and non-believers. American Christians will not temper their Christian politicians in the same way that moderate Muslims would not begin to try and moderate their extremist brothers for fear of reprisals and the hatchet. American Christians will not be happy until Democracy is wiped away, the constitution (which does not jibe with their religious text – all men are created equal etc.) is flushed and a theocracy such as Iran's has taken root. Republican constituents ignore the harmful Christian rhetoric and embrace the Republican party ideology. Christians are using their party as a conduit to theocracy and the Republican Christians have turned a blind eye.

    January 18, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Squiggs

    If you can't govern everyone equally then you shouldn't govern. Why is it the Republican Party can always dig up these pseudo christians to run for office and why is it these people always get elected. If this guy was a true christian he would be trying to embrace all the people he's been tasked to govern and not seperating them. It never stops with these people.

    January 18, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. QS

    'I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor ... I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that."

    Completely contradicting what he told the members of the church. So who was he lying to, the church people or everybody else? Seriously, it's people like this that make me proud to be an Atheist and grateful that I am not this guy's cult "brother"!!

    January 18, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Squiggs

    If you can't govern everyone equally then you shouldn't govern. Why is it the Republican Party can always dig up these pseudo christians to run for office and why is it these people always get elected. If this guy was a true christian he would be trying to embrace all the people he's been tasked to govern and not seperating them. It never stops with these people. If you're color blind why do youhave to say you are.

    January 18, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. RdclCntrst

    What offends me about that is not that he said those things; he's entitled to his opinion, and to say what he wants. He shouldn't have used his inauguration–which, I'm sure, was paid for out of public funds– to say that kind of thing.
    Let me put it another way: If I was elected governor, and I took the podium at my inauguration and said "I think that the Bible is a bunch of bullc–p, and Jesus was just a hick from the mountains who was no more divine than the wood he worked with", they'd burn me alive. But it is apparently okay to get up under the auspices of being governor and say "You Christians, we're cool. You who don't believe in Jesus aren't good enough. Oh, but by the way, I'm still in charge."

    January 18, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. jeff, alabama

    The guy made a comment about wanting
    everyone to be Christian.
    That doesn't make the man a criminal.
    Give the guy a break. Everybody favors
    their own religion over others whether
    they want to admit it or not. It's human
    nature.
    There are bigger fish to fry in EVERY
    state today without the media picking
    on Alabama again. There are only 4,000,000
    people in the whole state. Give us a break.
    Worst things happen in New York and
    California and Texas than happen here.
    Chill !!!!!

    January 18, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. carrotroot

    "I'm the governor of all (Christian) people" There fixed that.

    January 18, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. jeff

    Just another religious extremist who does not understand God's Message of love.

    January 18, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. NVa Native

    Great, another politician who claims to follow the teachings of Christ, but displays that he knows nothing about what that means.

    January 18, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Gil

    This is what the republicans voted for an now they can live with the intolerance and right wing nuts cases!

    January 18, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Former Republican, now an Independent

    This is an honest man sharing what the Bible tells him regarding brothers and sisters "in Christ". Sadly, he will catch more criticism than a gay person saying they are better at parenting children than a man and wife. Sad state of affairs!

    January 18, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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