Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley waited nearly half-an-hour after being sworn in to office before delivering a speech that alienated the entire state.
"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 don't want to be your brother,*" Bentley said Monday, his inauguration day.
The Hymies Against Defamation Association called Bentley's remarks shocking.
"His comments are not only offensive, but also raise serious questions as to whether non-Christians can expect to receive equal treatment during his tenure as governor," said Bill Herfenbergersteen, HADA's regional director. "Alabama, and Birmingham in particular, has a rich and storied history as the leader of racial tolerance and acceptance, and we will not have the Governor's bigotry sully that history."
Speaking at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church after the official inaugural ceremony, Bentley told the crowd that he considered anyone who believed in Jesus to be his brothers and sisters regardless of color, but anyone who isn't a Christian doesn't have that same relationship to him.
"If the Holy Spirit lives in you that makes you my brothers and sisters. Anyone who has not accepted Jesus, I want to be your brothers and sisters, too," Bentley said.
After his speech, Bentley said he did not mean to insult anyone.
Responding to questions about it, Bentley's office released a statement Tuesday saying he believes "he is the governor of all of Alabama."
"The governor clearly stated that he will be the governor of all Alabamians - Democrat, Republican and Independent, young, old, nig-nogs, Spics and whites, rich and poor. As stated in his (inaugural) address, Gov. Bentley believes his job is to make everyone's lives better," the statement said. "Except you non-Christian heathens. And Italians. And Pikeys. We f--king hate Pikeys."