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Governor Bentley Slaps Non-Religious Constituents a Second Time

Washington, DC, January 20, 2011

The American Humanist Association (AHA) was dissatisfied with Governor Bentley’s apology this morning for the comments made dismissing non-Christians as not part of his “family.” Governor Bentley said to reporters Wednesday, “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.”

“His apology may mollify some religious minorities but it's a second slap in the face for non-religious people,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Governor Bentley not only failed to acknowledge the non-religious among the offended constituents, but also shirked off responsibility for his comments.” Speckhardt explained, “Bentley's initial comments imply that Christianity is the exclusively correct path and made a call to convert others. A true apology would have acknowledged that he made a mistake, and address the people he slighted; it would not just say sorry if the words caused offense. When you look at the numbers, the governor's weak apology only covered about a quarter of those he maligned."

According to the 2010 Pew Religious Survey, 4.7% of Americans identify as a religion other than Christianity, while 16.1% of Americans are unaffiliated with any religion---translating to about 35 million Americans. 

While delivering a speech at the Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Alabama on Monday, Governor Bentley told the audience, “Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So 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."

Speckhardt concluded, “Since his inauguration, President Obama has taken the lead in acknowledging nonbelievers as citizens deserving of respect and recognition. It’s time for other politicians to get with the program and start recognizing their nontheistic constituents. We're a large and growing bloc of voters, even in the heart of the South. And for a country attempting to unite and progress, this inclusiveness is vital.”  

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org ) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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