Bentley creates controversy during inauguration ceremony

Dr. Robert Bentley speaks at UNA.

Evan King Staff Writer

On Monday, Jan. 17, Dr. Robert Bentley was inaugurated as the 53rd governor of the state of Alabama. However, the inauguration would not come without controversy.

A dermatologist from Tuscaloosa, Bentley replaced Bob Riley after Riley was unable to run due to term limits. The win as governor insured that the governor’s seat would be held by a Republican for a third straight term.

The topic on most people’s minds regarding the inauguration was not the swearing in of the new governor, but rather the comments made during Bentley’s speech at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, a church that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called home.

“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,” Bentley said.

His statement immediately caused pundits from across the country to respond to the comment.

“I think his comments were politically incorrect; however, I wouldn’t want to penalize him for his beliefs, especially beliefs that I share,” said Brandon White, a communications major. “I feel that the principles he stands on will make him a better governor.”

The comments drew criticism from major news networks and other outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, FOXNEWS and the New York Times. Bentley’s press office quickly responded to the comments by saying, “We were not trying to insult anybody.”

However, the Anti-Defamation League condemned Bentley’s remarks and questioned whether non-Christians in the state would be treated fairly or perhaps discriminated against after Bentley’s comments.

Despite the controversy, the governor did make some changes in Montgomery. Almost immediately after taking office, Bentley disabled the anti-gambling task force and handed all cases over to the new Attorney General Luther Strange.

UNA student Savannah Smith hopes to see Bentley accomplish specific goals during his first term.

“I want him to address the way the state funds its education and continue with his changes concerning gambling and to reevaluate this avenue for potential revenue.”

Bentley, in a press conference on challenges facing Alabama, claimed that he is likely to declare proration for education within two or three weeks of taking office.