Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

“All men are brothers” is an assertion of our common humanity. So it
seemed like a rejection of it for Alabama’s newly elected governor to restrict
his own brotherhood to fellow Christians–or, more accurately, to
fellow evangelicals. When you say, as Gov. Robert Bentley did, “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,” you’re talking the
evangelical talk.

Now if Bentley had just said, “…you’re not my
brother in Christ and you’re not my sister in Christ, and I want to be
your brother in Christ,” it would have been a bit redundant, but
innocuous. No Jew or Muslim wants to be someone’s brother (or sister) in

So why was Bentley denying the common humanity of his
non-Christian brethren and sistren? He wasn’t. The Southern Baptist
deacon was just expressing the wish–declaring his Great Commission
hope–that he could be the brother (in Christ) of all those
non-Christians, if only they’d hit the sawdust trail. Really, though, as
a white Southerner of a certain age, he was cuddling up to his
African-American audience at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church,
assuring them that he considered himself more their brother than, say,
some white person who hadn’t accepted Jesus.

And so he had to be educated. After receiving a shot from the ADL and meeting
with local Jewish leaders, he delivered one of those quasi-apologies:
“Should anyone who heard those words and felt disenfranchised, I want to
say, ‘I’m sorry.'” Not only did he pledge
that he would be the governor of all Alabamians and uphold the
constitutional principle of religious freedom, but also, when asked
asked at a press conference after the meeting whether he considered
those in attendance to be his brothers and sisters, he replied, “Yes,
yes I do.”

Well, I’m glad that’s settled.

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