Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Who Are Your “Brothers and Sisters”? Ask Governor Bentley

Who is included in your spiritual family? Who are your brothers and sisters? What is your relationship to those who are not? Events this week in Alabama evoke all these questions.
Alabama’s newly sworn-in Governor, Robert Bentley, declared that “Anybody here today (Monday, in the pews at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where the late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once was pastor) 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.”
Although claiming to have apologized for his comments, Governor Bentley did not really do so. Bentley offered the all too typical and entirely unsatisfactory “If/Then” apology, i.e. if his comments offended anybody, then he is sorry. Bentley’s official response to the controversy was as follows: “If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way.”
The problem here, and with all “If/Then” apologies, is that while the governor expresses regret for the hurt experienced by others as a result of his comments, he places the responsibility upon them and doesn’t even admit that he in fact did cause offense to many citizens of his state. He failed to unequivocally embrace the fact that people were, in fact, offended by his words. He also failed to demonstrate the slightest understanding of why that is and how he might avoid such missteps in the future.


While I have no reason to doubt Governor Bentley’s sincerity, ending the cycle of hurt caused by religious triumphalism in general, and the especially toxic effects of introducing such approaches into the political life of the nation demands that when politicians cross the line, they do better than the “If/Then” formulations which pass for real apologies.
To be fair to Governor Bentley though, his comments were an interesting mix of triumphalist exclusionism and genuine inclusivity. While it is true that he reserved the status of “brothers and sisters” for like-minded Christians, he also told his audience at the historic church that he believed it was important for Alabamians ”that we love and care for each other.”
”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.” Why were those words not noticed and praised as much as Bentley’s theological musings noticed and condemned? That too has to be addressed if we want more responsible government.
The hurt caused by the governor’s remarks is at least partly a function of people looking for reasons to be hurt – looking for nuggets of nuisance which they can mine out of otherwise responsible comments. In other words, to the extent that this is a big deal, it is not only because of Bentley’s comments, but because of people who make more out things than they really are. That is at least as problematic as apologies which make less of them than they really are.
Ultimately, Governor Bentley got caught between the legitimate desires to express particular solidarity with those whose faith is closest to his own and to express his commitment to those whose faith he does not share. He got caught, at least partially, because we have limited capacity in our culture for simultaneously embracing particularism and universalism. Too often, we assume that they are diametrically opposed impulses, when in fact they are complimentary impulses in each of us.
It is natural to feel a special affinity to those with whom we most closely identify, whether religiously, politically, familiarly, etc. It is also necessary that our affinities extend beyond those immediate impulses. A close reading of Governor Bentley’s comments reveal that he was trying to strike that balance. I think he failed, and I don’t think his subsequent apology did much better.
I also think that those who went berserk about the governor’s comments are as guilty as the governor — they perpetuate a situation which forces us to choose between affection for the particular and commitment to the universal. As long as we fail to integrate those two impulses, neither our faiths nor our politics will be as healthy as they must be in order to meet the challenges we face.

  • romanscapegoat

    the first thing people say when they visited the bible belt area of America is …wow people are so nice…the backwards Americans are not nice…just in the Nashville tn area there are more churches than anywhere in America…if you ever visit Nashville you will notice a church on every block…the backwards hillbillies from the bible belt go to church only to find good jobs or have sex with married people or have sex with children…the backwards hilly billy christian types are the worst kind of Christians…and why haven’t the hillbillys even tried to learn english…RELIGION IS EVIL AND IS USED TO HURT OTHERS AND GAIN POWER

  • Grumpy Old Person

    Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be this man’s “brother”. I’d be embarassed to have him as a member of my family.

  • Henrietta22

    Maybe people were upset by the “brother, sister thing”, because it seems to cancel out his words of caring for his whole state. People should not “try” to be nice, they should just say and be nice without trying.

  • Tim Wausch

    I am devastated. When we all think of spiritual guidance, who would we turn to before we turn to the Governor of Alabama? Whose opinions could carry more weight than Governor Bentley’s? I suppose I will just have to convert.

  • romanscapegoat

    tim….his comments are a reflection of all Christians who are not close to god but are raised in a culture that demands you say you are…the backwards hilly billy christian syndrome….praise the lord…kill women and children for america so the jewish owned banks and corporations can HAVE THE FREEDOM to control the white house…GOD BLESS AMERICA..LET FREEDOM RING…just don’t ask the government to pass laws to protect the not rich Americans from the banks and corporations…that’s what lawyers are for…the more money you have guarantees you will prevail in a court of law…America is the best country in the world…worship America…worship America…worship America…America is your golden calf..American is the god patriotic Americans worship…

  • European

    Who are your brothers and sisters? Would you have saved me from the Nazi Camps? (I don’t think Jews have it in them from what I know and have read,but there are some) Would your doctors heal a wounded Gentile in Palestine? How many have you refused medical aid to save a life in Israel?
    Who are your brothers and sisters I ask, and how many do you offend with your religious beliefs about Gentiles? I garantee you, that most of the anti-semitic attitudes come from your beliefe-systems, it is offensive to any Gentile, and the from God… to carry such an attitude is the most offensive of all, as it implies that no other soul or human being was created in the image of God. (only Jews, all others, like Gentiles equal to animals. Tell me if this is not offensive, I’ve never haerd any apologies from your Religiounists about your demeaning and insulting teachings to your flock) It insults God who created every human being in his image. Would you apologize? Apologies by words are cheap when the haert is far from it, as you all well know, and if there is no change in attitude. And Judaism has not changed its core-attitudes toward Gentiles for over 2thousand years. Therefore your critic on someone elses errors is pointless, unless you correct the errors in your own religions mind-set and books to your future generation. Then you can talk, and others will listen. I notice this log is so quick to point out the errors of other religionists, but fails to see an abundance of it’s own errors.

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus

    The governor is correct. It matters only that what he says aligns with the Word of God. It doesn’t matter that what he says doesn’t align with the word of the world.
    The fact is that those who are born again are born into the family of God through Christ. Only those who are in that family are brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not brother to those who are of the world.
    So, the governor got it right and correct.

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name

    Jesus said that those who are not with Him are against Him.
    Those who are against Him, who reject Him, cannot be His brothers, and, therefore, cannot be mine.

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus

    There would be more for him to lose if he, the governor, would side with the worldly and deny God and Christ. He was courageous in saying the right and correct thing.

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name

    First, God created Man in His Image.
    Then, Man created himself in his own image, and men continue this today. This is why we must be born again, or re-created, or regenerated, through Christ, as offered by God in Reconciliation.
    If one is born again in Christ, he is re-created in the Image of God. Those not born again remain in their own image, in the tradition of Adam and Eve.
    So, those not born again have no brother in those not born again. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks, only what God, through Christ, thinks, and what the governor says aligns with the Word of God.

  • romanscapegoat

    incredible jesus freak…god thinks your a dumbass…and so does the world

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus

    Will the anti-Christ be my brother?
    Are anti-Christs [1 John 2:18 ]KJV]] my brethren?

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name

    If Ephesians 5:11 and, especially 2 Corinthians 6:14 [KJV] aren’t clear enough support for the governor, try Jesus Himself, in Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 2:31-35; and Luke 8:20-21 [KJV].

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus

    I’m sure “god” thinks I’m a dumbass.
    I’m happy, however, in the knowledge through Christ that God knows I’m not. That’s all I care about.

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name

    If the governor is wrong, give us the line of scriptural thought that shows that he got it and Scripture wrong.
    Of course, that line would have to conflict with what Jesus said about it. Then, we’d have-ta throw out that which conflicts with what He said, and we’d be right back where we started: Only those who are born again are His brothers and brothers to those who are born again.
    Now, we know that those who dwell in darkness are brothers to those who dwell in darkness; and the forces of darkness want the governor and me to join them in darkness. NEWS BULLETIN: NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Film at 11.

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, in Whom we are more than conquerors!

    I’m sure “god” – no doubt the one of condemnation – thinks I’m a dumbass.
    However, Romans 8:1 [KJV]. I’ll stick with that.

    EVERY valley FILLED ! EVERY mountain and hill BROUGHT LOW ! The crooked MADE STRAIGHT ! Rough ways MADE SMOOTH ! All this AND MORE in El Shaddai — through Christ ! WHAT A DEAL !

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, the LORD of lords, KING of kings!


    “god” is not MY God. So, I got nuttin’ t’fear from “god.”

  • romanscapegoat

    incredible jesus freak..jesus feared god…if you had a relationship with god, you would understand what that means…all you need to know, is love eachother and god…burning your man made bible that lucifer wrote, would help you learn to include everyone…

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus

    Good thing I have NO relationship with “god.” I have a super relationship, through Christ, with God, however,

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus

    Truth should not offend Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, or anyone else who knowingly disobeys this simple truth. Unless you accept the free gift of salvation in Jesus, you will go to hell by your own choice.

  • romanscapegoat

    incredible jesus freak…truth is god never stopped walking with man…truth is god never needed a sacrifice to talk to him…truth is religion was written by man to keep everyone separated from eachother…truth is everyone can have a relationship with god…truth is many have a relationship with religion and not with god…the same way patriotic americans have a relationship with america…YOU MUST LET GO OF THE WORLD TO BE A CHILD OF GOD…jesus is the messiah the jews killed…and now the christians use jesus to hurt eachother…their are only two rules everyone must follow…LOVE EACHOTHER AND GOD

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name

    The 1210p poster, in the body of his post, says the Truth. However, that poster is not me. He should not be afraid to use his own name, or a nic of his own, in order to tell the Truth. He should, in some way, even by way of a nic, identify HIMSELF with that Truth, as I do.
    I post deliberately, meticulously, consistently and, to me, easily, in a certain style. It is impossible to copy it consistently. Notice that the poster who posts under “Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus” at 1210p does not post in my style of writing. My style is missing in that post. That is the tell-tale sign that he is an imposter. Also, a free tip: I virtually never use all caps.
    The blog “owner” can also compare e-mail addresses to identify the imposter.
    However, this does not take away from the facts he writes in the body of his post.

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, our Champion!

    Man stopped walking with God after Adam and Eve jumped from Grace. [Amos 3:3] They walked with another god — that is, Satan, the Devil, who used to be Lucifer.
    In order to walk with God again, one must be born again — that is, come into agreement with God, through Christ. That is God’s Offer of Reconciliation. Those not born again walk with Adam and are brothers with Adam, not Christ.
    If one does not walk in agreement with God, through Christ, he cannot be brother to Christ, and he cannot be brother to those who are born again.

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name, the Name above ALL names!

    Is the Moscow airport homicide bomber Christ’s and my brother? No.

  • Mr.incredible,in the name of jesus,who gives me the strenghth to not love those who dont love jesus

    either be a christian or go to hell!

  • romanscapegoat

    incredible jesus freak…Lucifer and Jesus are brothers…let god deal with it…not you

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name, the Name by Which we are saved!

    No such thing as “Lucifer” today. Who was once Lucifer is now Satan, the name of the Devil. I don’t care what a goat says. A goat is not part of His flock of sheep.

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone!

    See? The imposter simply cannot duplicate my style. To try would be too much trouble, too taxing on his “giant intellect.”

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name, the Name of the Son of God!

    A goat is a filthy animal, not fit for His flock of sheep. A goat is worthless in the Kingdom of God.

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, in Whom we must walk to be saved!

    The Devil cannot be brother to Jesus cuz-a at least Amos 3:3 [KJV].

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, the Light of the World!

    If I didn’t love those who reject Christ, I wouldn’t give them the Word of God. Giving the Word of God — that is, the ONLY Way to the Father — is the ultimate sign of biblical love and compassion. It’s what Jesus did.

  • romanscapegoat

    incredible jesus freak…lucifer is my brother…i never knew you

  • Mr. Incredible, in Jesus’ Name the Devil flees!

    Good. I’m better off for it and you’ll get over it.

  • romanscapegoat

    incredible jesus freak…you belong to Lucifer now…i am turning away from you now…forever…silly monkey

  • Mr. Incredible, in the Name of Jesus, the Son of God!

    I refuse your invitation to join you with Satan who used to be Lucifer.
    You’re turning away from me? I think I’ll get over it. Buh byyye.

  • janice l baker

    Why does every discussion now become so hostile?Basically I have blood kin who I would as soon have nothing to do with in this world for they have some of the same belligerence as those here and it is not a safe world due to all these who are so exclusive of most of the human race for some reason or another-either they are not christian whatever or they are not of right ethnic or color or gender or something so they are non suitable to live in this same world with them-but no man had the power to stop these all from being born and choosing the theologies or non theologies they would follow in life-there are approx 300 million in USA and about 5 billion in China alone so even if all in USA were christians they still would be a minority in the world but whatever happened to the so called Golden Rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you-so to make a few brownie points for political purposes or to sign on the black population to his political agenda there was
    a bad way of stating this and he chose it and it will come back to haunt him in the end-this is neither being christian or democratic
    in a nation that prides itself on being both – it becomes discriminatory and bigotted things M L King jr spoke out against and ended dying for doing so in a place where no black man could be called any white man’s brother even if at times that was a biological fact in the south-many whites and blacks had shared bloodlines but the whites would seldom recognize the black brother or sister as in their own biological family no matter they were in same faith family of times-so this is insulting to all in end.

  • A True Christian

    ml king was a racist and so are 99% of Negros today!

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