Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Religious Tolerance of the Governor of Alabama

In the category of "you can't make this stuff up" comes the religious bigotry of new Alabama governor, Robert Bentley, who yesterday said, "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 made this statement at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church after his official inaugural ceremony.

Not sure where that puts people of Jewish, Buddhist, or Islamic faith -- not to mention Scientologists. Are they now second-class citizens? Or is Bentley offering to convert them?

What is upsetting about this is Bentley's apparent ignorance of the First Amendment. The first 16 words of the Amendment say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That means government may not favor one religion over others. It also means that there is a separation of church and state. While the term does not appear in the Constitution, founding father Thomas Jefferson (who should know what was meant in the Constitution) wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 citing that the language of the First Amendment and said that it built "a wall of separation between Church and State."

When our elected officials are ignorant of -- or refuse to adhere to -- the Constitution, it is a frightening state of affairs.


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