Thursday, January 20, 2011

What the Governor Said

The Governor of Alabama is trouble for saying, while speaking at his church:

"Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their (sic) savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

This has created a firestorm of criticism from many quarters.  Biblically speaking (which is, of course, always the best way to speak) the thought expressed by the Governor is accurate.  Anyone who understands the historic Christian faith would not be shocked by this in the least.  Those who are “in Christ” share a spiritual, familial relationship that is not even possible with those outside the body of Christ.

This has never meant that those in Christ had some kind of low view of those outside Christ.  Notice how the Governor even expresses his desire for all to come to Christ, and become, in this unique sense, his “brother.”  There is nothing shocking here, at least for those who have even a clue about the Christian faith.

But we need to remember that the modern version of Christianity, which is the version most people in our society come into contact with, has a very different approach to this matter.  In the early twentieth century this was expressed as “the Fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.”  (As you can clearly see, they were still sexists back then.)

Notice where the “brotherhood” is located in this view:  all of human kind.  (See how inclusive I can be?)  Of course, there followed a string of stupid comments from various “religious” people about what the Governor said.  For example:

The president of the national Interfaith Alliance, the Rev. Welton Gaddy, said Bentley "went too far."

"I thought that with his statement he created two classes of citizens in Alabama, those that were his brothers and sisters in Christ and everyone else. As an elected official, he has the responsibility to serve all the people and treat all the people equally," Gaddy said.

So, according to the Rev. Welton Gaddy (that name has an amusing ring for reasons I cannot specify, though that is not relevant here), a Governor cannot speak at his church in language that accurately reflects his faith.  He was clearly not speaking about “classes of citizens in Alabama” but rather, classes of human beings in the spiritual categories of God.

What about being a spiritual “brother” only to others who are in Christ has any implication for how you will act as Governor?  Doesn’t Welton Gaddy realize that being elected Governor of Alabama does not change the teaching of the Christian faith?  Where did Welton Gaddy get his “Rev.” license, anyway?

The Governor offered a somewhat unfortunate apology for his statement:

"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," he told reporters Wednesday after meeting with leaders of other faiths in his new office.

So the Governor thinks people from other religions might “feel” that they have lost the right to vote (disenfranchised) by this statement?  Surely the Governor meant something other than what this word denotes!

The Governor should not have apologized.  He said nothing wrong.  It is high time for our weenified, politically correct, please-don’t-hurt-my-feelings” society that claims to be tolerant and inclusive make at least a little room for people – even people elected to office – who openly state their Christian faith.

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