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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Governor Provides a Teaching Moment in Christianity

January 19, 2011

There’s nothing really complicated about Christianity – it’s a simple religion based on a very simple premise.

Still, many non-believers find it tricky – and misunderstandings are common.

This is especially true for those who consider themselves Christians because they think of themselves as being good persons, or maybe attend church regularly, or belong to a particular faith where they’ve spent a lot of time inside a church building.

These things are nice but unfortunately do not make someone a Christian.

These days politics and religion are so intertwined that much of the press coverage on Christianity adds to the confusion, and often hurts the public image of Christianity.

The latest example occurred this week when the newly elected Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley made some remarks that many did not understand, particularly non-Christians.

Governor Bentley told a church crowd that those individuals who have not accepted Jesus as their savior are not his “brother and sister”; although he went on to say that he wanted these non-believers to be his “brother and sister.”

This of course means he wants them to be Christians.

The Anti-Defamation League called the Governor’s remarks “shocking”. The Governor is right however – as far as the statement goes.  Those who do not believe that Jesus is their savior - would not be his “brother or sister”. That is a simple statement of Christian fact.

The Anti-Defamation League went on to question whether non-Christians can expect to receive fair and equal treatment from Governor Bentley in light of these comments, and that is a fair point to ask.

But the Governor has stated that he will serve “all of Alabama” equally, and until he demonstrates otherwise, everyone should expect this to be the case.

The League (which fights discrimination against Jewish people) went on to say that Governor Bentley’s comments sounded as if he was trying to use his office as Governor to advocate conversion to Christianity among the people of Alabama.

As a Christian, the Governor probably does want everyone to know Jesus as their savior as this is the basis of  the Christian religion. He made the remarks to a church audience, and only he can decide if he should keep those thoughts to himself.

The New Testament, the "Bible" of Christianity, says he should not.

Many believe that public officials should not utter any comments concerning their religious beliefs, while ohers say this is oppressive and unacceptable. Mixing politics and religion is hard, no doubt, but having a good understanding of various religious beliefs might be a good place to start.

British scholar and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis said that being a Christian does not necessarily mean that other religions do not contain at least some element of truth – but he said Christians differ from other religions in one important way – namely that Christians believe Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong.

He went on to say that Christianity is similar to the logic of arithmetic that way – there is only one right answer to a sum and every other answer is wrong. Yet he points out that some wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.

No doubt Governor Bentley understands this about Christianity – and others do not.