The newly sworn-in Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama ignited a storm of controversy Monday when he addressed a predominantly African American church declaring that only those who accepted Jesus Christ as their savior are his “sisters or brothers.” He went on to add, “...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...” The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) joined many Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist leaders in denouncing Gov. Bentley’s words, calling his views “intolerant, repulsive and wholly unacceptable.”
America, as a beacon of religious freedom and pluralism, must demand more of its elected leaders. HAF asks you to sign the petition and send the letter below to Governor Bentley, urging him to retract his divisive remarks.
As the highest public official elected in the State of Alabama, your citizens have a right to expect their governor to rise not only beyond partisan politics once elected, but also above differences in religion, race, creed or sexual orientation. While you would be asked to lead generously and expansively, you chose the path of inflammatory and exclusivist rhetoric. Recent tragic events have demonstrated that this country’s political rhetoric is in serious need of change, and the clamor throughout the country is for unity and togetherness. Our political leaders must strive to bring individuals, parties, and factions together as Americans. Instead, your remarks have only aided in furthering a division of “us” versus “them” - a division that is unnecessary and counterproductive in a common journey to see ourselves as one nation.
Your message, far from a commemoration, is a glaring insult to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a great leader whose teachings of non-violence and equal rights were greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu. Dr. King realized that the universality of that message transcends religion and race.
As your fellow American, I strongly urge you to retract your divisive remarks and affirm that you will serve all of your constituents equally, without regard to their religion.