This week, the American Humanist Association (AHA) was shocked to learn of the comments made by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. 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.”
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.” Upon hearing Governor Bentley’s apology for the comments made, we are dissatisfied.
Governor Bentley not only failed to acknowledge the non-religious among the offended constituents, but also shirked off responsibility for his comments. Bentley’s initial statement implied 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 addressed all of the people he slighted.
According to the 2010 Pew Religious Knowledge 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. Since his inauguration, President Obama has taken the lead in acknowledging these 35 million Americans as citizens deserving of respect and recognition. It’s time for other politicians to get with the program and start recognizing their nontheistic constituents.
Please take a moment right now to send a letter to Governor Robert Bentley and remind him that atheists, non-theists, and humanists are also constituents whom he was elected to serve. For a country attempting to unite and progress, this inclusiveness is vital.