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Posted at 3:38 PM ET, 01/19/2011

What was so wrong about Alabama Gov. Bentley's remarks

By Alexandra Petri

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, in a speech at a church after being sworn in:

There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley said. ''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."

Bentley added, ''Now I will have to say 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."

People often wring their hands about where the line is when it comes to talking about your personal faith after you enter politics.

I think we've found the line!

This speech is a great example of what is not acceptable -- and why. Sure, it was delivered in a church. But just because you are giving a speech in a church does not suddenly give you the right to go from being governor (of all the people -- as Bentley acknowledged earlier) to being preacher, any more than giving a speech in a hospital entitles you to take over the surgery.

And wherever he speaks, Gov. Bentley should know better than to make this sort of polarizing and proselytizing statement. It's not wrong to talk about your faith. But, especially as governor, you need to hide your light under a bushel basket for a bit and not go around telling people they aren't your brothers and sisters because they haven't been saved. If you chafe at this, perhaps you ought to consider another line of work.

I also worry about what this will do to his other speeches.

Based on his inability to keep this proselytizing message out of his remarks, here is how I imagine Bentley would sound delivering other famous lines. To quote Bentley: ''We're not trying to insult anybody."

  • Four score and seven years ago, our foredaddies brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. But those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior are more equal than others, because we have the same daddy.
  • I have a dream today, that the brotherhood of man will become a reality in this age. But to make that happen, everybody needs to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, because if you don't, I'm telling you, you're not my brother.
  • You don't know me, but I'm your brother. Except Episcopalians. They are my cousins. Atheists are strangers.
  • Give me liberty, or give me communion!
  • I regret that I have but one life to give for my country. But I really regret that some of you here aren't my brothers and sisters, because we don't have the same daddy.
  • A house divided against itself cannot stand people who haven't been saved and who don't have the same daddy.
  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Also, you should look into Jesus.
  • Luke, God is your father.
  • We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and non-brothers, depending on whether or not you have accepted Jesus.
  • And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Except anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ, because he is not my brother, and I can't do anything about what's in his eye.

By Alexandra Petri  | January 19, 2011; 3:38 PM ET
Categories:  Epic Failures, Petri, That's awkward  | Tags:  Robert Bentley, reality, religion  
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I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, he’s the Governor of Alabama. Sure, if he was a teacher’s assistant in a junior high school or a clerk at a Blockbuster Video, you’d fire him. But it’s Alabama for pity’s sake.

Posted by: codexjust1 | January 19, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Not just inappropriately Christianist, but the man clearly doesn't know the difference between "like" and "as." No credibility -- except in Alabama, apparently.

Posted by: FHoffman | January 19, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody - who has accepted Jesus Christ as their savior - get together
Try to love one another right now.

Posted by: divtune | January 19, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I know a filipina catholic and a romanian jewess who work nights on L and 11th, and they have the same daddy. What gives?

Posted by: purpledrank | January 19, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

In America's Bible Belt, orthodox Christianity is the air that one breathes. If you are not with us then you are against us. Roman soldiers went to war on the backs of dinosaurs. The world is only 6,000 years old. Evolution is only a theory. Jesus died for your sins. Avoid really dying when you die by accepting Christ as your savior from an eternity in Hell. If you want to upset a true believer, challenge his beliefs. They are self-evident truths to him. He cannot understand how anyone could deny them. Whatever floats your boat. I'm partial to the Scientific Method. When there's no way to prove your thesis (appeal to Authority does NOT count) false then your thesis has no standing in my book.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | January 19, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

The conservative mind longs for the past and fears change. Jesus is their latest Baal. They simply cannot fathom the non sequiter that Christians have been warring upon each other for 2 millenia, both sides claiming their faith as the righteous reason. Fortunately, this Universe is programmed to progress in spite of conservatism and IMO taps the negative energy to progress.

Posted by: BertEisenstein | January 19, 2011 7:44 PM | Report abuse

You're really upping the ante for sheer stupidity, Petri.

Posted by: pcannady | January 20, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

You're really upping the ante for sheer stupidity, Petri.
Posted by: pcannady
Oh yeah? That's not a very Christian thing to say. And how do you think Petri's Auntie feels?

My daddy says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So who's YOUR daddy pcannady?

Posted by: divtune | January 20, 2011 12:40 AM | Report abuse

What do you expect from a southern,middle-aged Christian bigot? Surprised? Not me.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 20, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Bently is only stating the tenets of his religion, if you haven't been born again and accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, ala Jimmy Carter, you are condemned to hell, and that often includes those who practice in other Christian denominations. Bently is stating a belief that is no different from that held by other fundamentalist Christian and non-Christian religions. Catholics believe only Catholics are saved. Fundamentalist Jews believe that non-Jews are on earth simply to serve Jews and are lower in scale than animals. Fundamentalist Muslims believe only Muslims have the true religion and if you don't accept that, you die.

This article ignores the bases of fundamental religions and cares only about violations of the political correctness codes. The greater question is why humans born with an intellect, however marginal, and with the ability to use logical reasoning suspend objective reality, cling to these faiths, and willingly kill their neighbors for their faith.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 20, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can't receive the gifts of God's Spirit. There's no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit--God's Spirit and our spirits in open communion.

Posted by: jodogarr | January 20, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Petri's "brilliant" analysis displays why she and Milbank have no credibility outside of "The Ed Show". To wit: Petri says the governor doesn't have "the right" to state his Christian views (even in a church to a Christian crowd!!); evidently, Petri is unfamiliar with the part of the Constitution that bars anyone from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Then Petri engages in a common liberal tactic of "imagining" what the governor might say in future speeches. That's right, Petri...if you don't have any ammunition, invent it. That'll keep your paycheck coming from your liberal masters. S' a journalism major, I always thought opinion columns were supposed to be persuasive and to offer sound argumentation, not merely grind the writer's favorite axes.

Posted by: rounder1 | January 26, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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