Newly sworn in Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, left, and his wife, Dianne, prepare to leave Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church after he spoke during the annual observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday on Monday in downtown Montgomery, Ala.
updated 1/19/2011 5:15:36 PM ET 2011-01-19T22:15:36

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apologized Wednesday for his remarks about only Christians being his brothers and sisters.

Bentley said he didn't mean to insult anyone when he told a church crowd on Monday that those who have not accepted Jesus as their savior are not his brothers and sisters, shocking some critics who questioned whether he can be fair to non-Christians.

"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," Bentley said Monday, just moments into his new administration, according to The Birmingham News.

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The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday called Bentley's remarks shocking.

"His comments are not only offensive, but also raise serious questions as to whether non-Christians can expect to receive equal treatment during his tenure as governor," said Bill Nigut, the ADL's regional director.

Bentley apologized on Wednesday, however, saying no one should hate anyone else because of color or religion. Bentley spoke with reporters after meeting with several members of Alabama's Jewish community and other faith leaders at his Capitol office.

The Southern Baptist deacon says he will be a governor for everyone, not just Christians.

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