Interesting story out of Alabama. The new governor, Robert Bentley, on his very first day in office, shocked the civilized world, saying that he considered only Christians to be his “brothers and sisters.”
Imagine that. The leader of the state identifying so strongly with his religious affiliation that he makes other citizens uncomfortable. Thank goodness the ADL came to the rescue with a public rebuke: “It is shocking that Governor Bentley would suggest that non-Christians are not worthy of the same love and respect he professes to have for the Christian community.” The “brothers and sisters” remark might have sounded personal, but the ADL correctly perceived the dangerous implications in the governor’s statement: “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.” Of course, that would be unthinkable! To deny one segment of the citizenry “equal treatment” based upon religion?
It’s wonderfully reassuring to have an organization like the ADL that spots such ominous signs and nips them in the bud. And remember, while the ADL specializes in combating anti-Jewish sentiments, its mission statement is to protect all: “The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” So we can count on ADL, zealous guardians of the principle of equality, to protect everyone against the possibility that a government, especially one that describes itself as “democratic,” might be in danger of conferring rights and privileges on some of its citizens to the detriment of others.
The ADL forced Gov. Bentley to issue an apology. Had it not promptly acted, who knows how far this could have gone. He could have changed the state flag to a cross, invited only Christians the world over to become Alabamans, and implemented state-sanctioned discrimination in housing, education, and employment. He even might have prohibited Alabama from issuing marriage certificates between Christians and non-Christians. I know this sounds absurdly far-fetched for 2011, but you can’t be too careful with any manifestation of bigotry.