Robert J. Bentley, the newly-elected governor of Alabama, is "raising eyebrows" according to the LA Times.
"If you're a Christian and you're saved ... it makes you and me brother and sister. 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 ..."The governor made these remarks in church, not during his official duties as the state's governor. Does that make it OK?
I don't think so. Governor Bentley abused the power of his office, plain and simple. He used the State of Alabama to promote Christianity. It may not be illegal, but it certainly is unethical. The governor should be ashamed of himself.
Governor Bentley has a duty to represent all of the citizens of Alabama: people of all faiths and no faith, people of all colors, male and female, young and old, Democrat and Republican. In private, he can hold any view he likes. But in public, he can't favor one group or another.
Public officials never have a truly private life. Like it or not, when you choose public service you become a full-time representative of your constituency. You are held to a higher standard of morality and conduct. If you don't like it, don't take the job.
When Governor Bentley took the oath of office, he gave up the right to be a bigot in public. He can disparage Jews, Muslims, humanists and atheists as unworthy of his brotherhood all he likes behind closed doors, but in public he represents the State of Alabama. And his church is a public place. By accepting the governorship, he agreed to hold himself to a higher standard.
Sadly, Governor Bentley failed the most basic test of a public servant – to represent all of his constituents fairly – on the very day of his inauguration. I predict it's downhill from here.