Bentley apologizes if comments were offensive to other religions
Gov. Robert Bentley apologized Wednesday to anyone he might have offended with comments following his inauguration that some considered intolerant to other religions.
During a speech at historic Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, Bentley told those in attendance for an event honoring the birthday of the late civil rights leader that he would be a governor of all of the people even though he was elected as a Republican.
But, then added that "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," Bentley said, according to The Birmingham News.
Religious organizations and media outlets from throughout the nation have been critical of Bentley’s comments and consider them judgmental and question whether his administration would be fair to people of other faiths.
Bentley met with members of the religious community, including The Birmingham Jewish Federation, in his office on Wednesday about the comments at Dexter Avenue that some interpreted as offensive toward other religions.
Bentley said those in attendance at the church understood the comments and he said that he was speaking as an evangelical Christian to other Baptists.
"We made some statements that people in the church understood," Bentley said. He said people in his faith, like those in other religions use "terminology some others might not understand."
"This was a difficult misstep at the beginning," said Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Temple Emanu-El of Birmingham. Miller said he was very troubled when he read the comments on Tuesday.
But Miller and others who met with Bentley on Wednesday said he was gracious and that they do not believe the governor was trying to be divisive.
The governor said he did not expect the uproar.
"I did not feel I had said anything wrong," he said.
The governor said he would not apologize for his beliefs and would continue to talk about his faith, but did not intend to offend anyone.
"I want to be the governor of all of Alabama," he said and said he will represent Baptists, Muslims, Jews and other religions.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen