Alabama’s new governor has apologized for comments he made on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when he told a crowd at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, “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.”
“What I would like to do is apologize,” Gov. Robert Bentley told reporters, according to The Birmingham News. “Should anyone who heard those words and felt disenfranchised, I want to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ If you’re not a person who can say you are sorry, you’re not a very good leader.”
Jewish leaders met with Bentley this afternoon, and Montgomery Rabbi Elliot Stevens told WSFA, “I do not think the governor meant anything negative.” According to WSFA:
The governor said when he made the comments to the church audience he assumed he was speaking as a private citizen and not as the Governor of Alabama.
Bentley made the original comments shortly after taking the oath of office on Monday, and he was speaking in the Montgomery church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was once pastor.
Soon after Bentley spoke, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, his communications director, told the press that Bentley ”is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com