According to Associated Press reporter Jay Reeves on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, and which appeared in The Birmingham News, newly elected Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s remark on Monday, January 17, 2011, while speaking to the crowd at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church after the official inaugural ceremony, said that if someone is not a believer in the LORD Jesus Christ, then the person is not his brother or his sister. He further stated that anyone who is a believer, regardless of race, color, etc. can be his brother and sister but if someone is not a Christian, he or she cannot have the same kind of relationship with him. One could ask the question, “What was he thinking,” because the statement caused an immediate response from the Anti-Defamation League which called the Governor’s remark “shocking.” Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society, told The Birmingham News that he wasn’t sure how Bentley’s comment was intended.
Taufique pondered whether Bentley wants people [such as Muslims like himself] to convert to the Christian ‘faith’ and mentioned that “We don't want evangelical politicians, and they can do whatever they want in their private lives.” The thing is, though, it is not so simple to separate personal belief in God or a theistic religion from influencing legislative action. More often than not in America, because there is a First Amendment clause to The Constitution which guarantees religious freedom and protects against a national religion, but yet most Americans believe that we are a “Christian” nation. To wit, when an elected official is a devout Bible-believing Christian it would be rather naive not to think that they could be torn between their civic responsibility to uphold the U.S. Constitution or the State Constitution and at the same time be faithful to the Word of God, and that their belief doesn’t influence their decisions. The question is, rather, whether Bentley is a Christian Governor or a Governor who happens to be a Christian, and only time will tell if his policies are adopted which benefit all the people of Alabama, or if he has an agenda that is largely enacted and influenced by the support of a particular religious constituency.
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January 19, 2011
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