Washington, DC – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today in response to comments made by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley:
Governor Bentley’s comments yesterday at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church raise disturbing concerns for anyone committed to protecting religious freedom and maintaining the Constitutional boundaries between religion and government in this country. The people of Alabama elected Mr. Bentley to lead the state, not to give him a platform from which to proselytize. Though Mr. Bentley promised to be ‘the governor of all the people,’ he immediately cast doubt on the sincerity of that statement by telling citizens in Alabama who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior that ‘you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister’—thus creating two classifications of residents in the state.
It is somewhat ironic that these comments were made on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Dr. King’s own church. Dr. King embraced all those who stood with him in his quest for civil rights and gave his life for the establishment of a society in which there were no classifications of citizens identifying some as more important to government leaders than others. Mr. Bentley’s comments fly in the face of the example Dr. King set for us and throw in question the new governor’s commitment to religious freedom as promised in the United States Constitution.
Mr. Bentley has a right to his beliefs, as do those who hold beliefs different from his, but he must remember his election conferred upon him the title and responsibilities of “Governor,” not “Reverend.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.