The new governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, is reported to have said that we are all brothers and sisters, and added (according to the Birmingham News): “Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So 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.”
I will ignore for a moment the political naiveté of a statement like this by the governor of a state in a country which has people of all faiths and no faith whatever as citizens, But it is unfortunate that this well-meaning Christian is confused about his theology. From the Christian and any theistic perspective, we are all children of God and not descendants of Jesus Christ who is therefore neither our Daddy (as the governor thoughtlessly said), nor our great great granddaddy or anything like that.
Using his jargon I have to remind him that that all of us: Christians and Jews, Hindus and Muslims, Jains and Wikkans, Sikhs and Buddhists, Bahais and atheists, Americans and Non-Americans, and all human beings do have the same daddy: namely the unfathomable and inscrutable God for whom, I am sure, Mr. Robert Bentley has great reverence.. So, Mr. Governor, whether your heart can accommodate it or not, whether it is within or beyond what your mind can grasp, I regard you, and every citizen of this country and every inhabitant of this planet as my brother or sister, son or daughter, uncle or aunt, or to whatever category they may belong.
I would also say this to the governor: I understand the evangelical spirit in which you made this statement, and I respect your deep devotion to Christ. But the same Divine Spirit that created the universe and humanity and human culture and civilization has also brought about revolutionary changes in our appraisal of God and humanity. We live in a complex and interdependent world, but also in a culturally and religiously rich world. We are destined to fall into the dismal ditch of intolerance, hatred, and killing those who don’t embrace our vision of God and his messenger, if we continue to exclude others from our embrace of fellow human beings who worship different symbols, who come from different traditions, who pray in different languages and those who are just human beings with no religious affiliation, because in the core of every human being there is a little of the God that you and others venerate. By opening our hearts to one and all we can enrich ourselves, our community, our culture, our nation, and humanity at large.
May peace be with you and in the world!
January 19, 2011