New AL governor apologizes for saying non-Christians aren't his brothers

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Before a crowd of reporters and Jewish leaders Wednesday afternoon, Governor Robert Bentley apologized for comments that many considered offensive towards non-Christians.

Just hours after taking office, Bentley made comments to a group of people at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in downtown Montgomery in which he said anyone who wasn't a Christian wasn't his brother or sister.

Some say the comments raise serious questions about whether non-Christians can expect to be treated fairly by his administration. "I think to make a statement like he did is really to insult all those who are of different faiths who are very hard working members of our community and have made our state a better place," said Jason Childs, Director of the Center for Progress in Alabama.

"I did not mean to offend anyone with my comments there," Bentley told the group of religious leaders and reporters on Wednesday in his office at the state capitol.

The meeting was organized by the Birmingham Jewish Federation. It had been planned for later, but they decided to expedite the meeting in light of his comments on inauguration day.

"I do not think the governor meant anything negative," said Montgomery Rabbi Elliot Stevens, who attended the meeting.

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.

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