New Governor Robert Bentley said in a speech that only those who have accepted Jesus Christ are his brothers and sisters, while those who haven’t are not. This has created harsh criticism, and he has given an apology for offending anyone. Now, I’ll grant the critics that perhaps this wasn’t the best place or time to say something like this, but the critics are doing something far worse – they’re essentially both insulting his faith and calling on him to deny his faith.
Bill Nigut of the Anti-Defammation League seems incredulous that “Christians are part of an exclusive relationship he [the Governor] has with his brothers and sisters and the rest of us are not.” With all due respect to Mr. Nigut, the Bible teaches this in many places. Now, there is a minor sense in which all people are brothers and sister by being human and descended from Adam, but the dominant, major sense of brotherhood is those who are of the spiritual family of God in Christ. Jesus himself said this quite clearly (Matt. 12.46-50).
Mr. Nigut or anyone is entirely free to disagree with Jesus’ way, but shouldn’t be surprised. This is what our faith teaches. Christianity belongs to a category of religions called “exclusivist.” Islam belongs to the same category and some forms of Buddhism. This isn’t unusual. Religions teach what they teach, and in the US people are guaranteed by the constitution to hold to whatever religion they desire, even if they are public servants. But what shocked me more is what Nigut said next,
“An apology is only meaningful if it is consistent with a sincere understanding of what a person has done wrong. If Gov. Bentley were to say: ‘I realize I was wrong that we are all brothers and sister, and not single out only the ones who believe in Jesus Christ.'”
Is Mr. Nigut guilty of the very thing he accuses Gov. Bentley? He says this man’s religious beliefs are “wrong” and expects this man to deny his beliefs. I’m not sure of the religion of Mr. Nigut, but he seems to be exclusivist as well, that only those who agree with his doctrine of all people being brothers and sisters are right, and those who disagree are wrong.
What Mr. Nigut should have said is that saying such a thing in that time and place is wrong, or better, inappropriate. That is a valid point of discussion since the Governor is a public servant and represents people of all faiths. But to attack him for his beliefs and demanding recantation? This is nothing less than a verbal inquisition.