A lovely sentiment. Except for what happened next:
"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley said. ''But if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister."
Bentley added, ''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'm not sure how many folks in a church don't "have living within them the Holy Spirit". But the bigger point, obviously, is the gratuitous demeaning of Jews and other non-Christians, with the Governor explicitly telling them that they are lesser people in his eyes.
The reason the Constitution forbids official religious endorsement is that, in the words of Justice O'Connor, "Endorsement sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community." Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 688 (1984) (O'Connor, J., concurring). Alas, public pronouncement of the governor's views -- absent any legal effect -- are likely outside the purview of constitutional review. But the effect is the same -- everybody in Alabama now has had it made starkly clue which faith groups are insiders, and which are outsiders, in the current administration.
UPDATE: Jon Chait reminds us that "it's been months since the last neoconservative column upbraiding American Jews for their inexplicable failure to vote Republican."
UPDATE #2: Governor Bentley has apologized.