Washington: After his inauguration day remarks about only Christians being his brothers and sisters angered many in the US, Alabama`s new Governor Robert Bentley apologised for causing the offence and said he would work for all people alike.
Bentley`s controversial remarks he made early this week had angered non-Christians in the country, including the Hindus, Muslims and the Jews as also the atheists.
Addressing a predominantly African American church on Monday after his official inaugural address, Bentley said only those who accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour are his "sisters or brothers".
He went on to add, "... so anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour, I`m telling you, you`re not my brother and you`re not my sister..."
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) joined many Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist leaders in denouncing Bentley`s words, calling his views "intolerant, repulsive and wholly unacceptable".
Bentley apologised yesterday after the furore. "If anyone from other religions felt disenfranchised by the language, I want to say I am sorry. I am sorry if I offended anyone in any way," he said in a statement.
Bentley`s director of communications, Rebekah Mason, said the Governor did not mean offence to anybody.
"The Governor had intended no offense by his remarks. He is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike," he told the Fox News in a statement. Strongly condemning the remarks, the Hindu American foundation had earlier demanded that the Alabama Governor retract his statement.
"Governor Bentley is the highest public official elected in the State of Alabama, and such inflammatory rhetoric should never be tolerated from someone of his stature," said Nikhil Joshi, Esq, co-founder and Board member of HAF.
"It would seem obvious that all public officials repudiate even an appearance of partiality, look equally upon all constituents and, categorically, never apply a religious litmus test on their citizens. Sadly, Governor Bentley seems to fail in making these distinctions," Joshi said.