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 is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.