Gubernatorial Candidate Bradley Byrne Believes in the Bible: Really!

Bradley Byrne, a Republican candidate for governor in Alabama, made a mistake in November. He said this in a Mobile Press-Register interview:

“I believe there are parts of the Bible that are meant to be literally true and parts that are not.”

That made the whole world mad, apparently. How *dare* he not take the whole Bible literally?!

Last week, he made amends… by standing outside a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and announcing:

“I believe the Bible is true… Every word of it.”

Oh yeah. I feel much better now.

I actually don’t see hypocrisy in the two statements. Byrne believes in the Bible, but he interprets it in different ways — some of it literal, some of it figuratively, but all of it is “true” to him. The “controversy” that’s being reported about is not really there.

The controversy reporters should be talking about is just not getting much attention: It’s a sad state of affairs when a candidate has such little respect for reality.

I’m glad voters are taking his comments seriously… but they’re doing it the wrong way! They should be appalled that he believes that anything in the Bible is literally true. Why would you want someone like that to be the leader of your state?!

Oh, right. It’s Alabama.

In case Byrne’s quotations didn’t make you weep for society, check out what one commenter said at the newspaper’s website after hearing about Byrne’s “corrected” quotation:

“Just got a call from a person at my Church letting me know about this,” said uafan1198. “My family will not be shopping at Ragland Piggly Wiggly stores anymore or anything else they own. I don’t shop at places that think it is OK to stand next to people who don’t believe the Bible is all true.”

He’s taking his frustration out in on the store?! He won’t shop anywhere where he might catch rational-cooties?!

That has to be a Poe. Right? Right. (Right?)

Sandhya Bathija of Americans United explains why this shouldn’t be an issue in the election:

Our Founding Fathers made it clear when they wrote the Constitution that there would never be a religious test to hold office. That ban doesn’t apply to voters, of course. They are free to cast a ballot for someone because of religion. But it certainly violates the spirit of the Constitution to vote for or against a candidate solely on the basis of religious belief.

Let’s hope, in the coming weeks, Alabamians come to their senses and realize what should really be important in a gubernatorial election.

None of this would be a big concern except that Byrne’s faith influences his policies. I don’t blame him for that, but it’s all the more reason not to vote for him.

He’s guided by a Holy Book and a church — Equal rights and freedom of choice be damned.

  • ShavenYak

    This is funny.

    Person A goes to Piggly Wiggly and says “I believe the Bible is true… Every word of it.”

    Person B decides they will never shop at Piggly Wiggly again because “I don’t shop at places that think it is OK to stand next to people who don’t believe the Bible is all true.”

    There’s more wrong with Person B than his belief in sky fairies. One might say his grasp of reality is tenuous at best.

  • Ron in Houston

    ShavenYak has apparently never been to Alabama…

  • Luther

    I’m running down to Walmart, McDonalds, Goldman Sacks, Pfizer, Exxon etc. and will say:

    “I don’t believe the Bible is all true”

    Perhaps we can starve out some wacko’s and some bloated businesses.

  • tennismom

    Thank you…I know who to actively campaign against now! Along with a couple others.

    I live in Alabama and can say that this is one of the things I hate about living in the so called “Bible Belt”. There are those of us who are rational thinkers here, but we are far and few between it seems like or the others are just so much more outspoken than us.

    We do have another candidate for Governor that needs to be called out and that is Kay Ivey, current State Treasurer. I chaperoned a field trip for my youngest child’s class and here is my post that I entered at the PBB Forum after we went (sorry it’s a little long)…

    I helped chaperon my son’s 4th grade on a field trip to the AL State Capital last week. Our tour started with a stop in the State Treasurer’s office due to one of the student’s in our group knowing her family. Once in her office, she proceeded to not talk to the kids, but preach at them. She told them what it takes to be a good citizen with being a good Christian and going to church as one of the listed items, then she proceeded to tell them the formula that the MUST use up to age 18 to be financially successful. This formula is as follows: 10-30-30…The FIRST 10 cents of every dollar they have MUST go to the CHURCH, the next 30 cents of every dollar goes into a long term savings account, then the next 30 cents of every dollar goes into a short term savings account, and everything left is their spending money. Of course I stood there stunned. After we left her office, I thought ok surely we won’t get anymore of that, but I was wrong. Later in the tour they take the kids into a room and sit them down and tell them the story behind the AL state flag…we’ll I have never heard this version of it. Our state flag is white with a red X across it from corner to corner. The tour guide proceeds to babble on about how the X stands for the cross and that there was a Saint that requested to be hung sideways on the cross as not to be hung like our savior…he babbled on some more and then told them the white background represented the white cotton fields of AL and the red cross was for the blood that was shed for us. Of course my son and I had a long talk about it after we got back home, and when my hubby walked in and heard us talking he got ticked off also. My step-grandfather and my mom were both elected officials in this state and I have NEVER in all of my life heard the story this tour guide gave about the flag. Not to mention he and the State Treasurer were both highly out of line bringing their God and religion into the presentation to begin with, not to mention it being done under the dome of our Capital building where all human walks of life are suppose to be welcome. My hubby wants to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper, but my boys are already having to put up with so much heat at school already over not being Christians that I’m not sure I want him to do it. Just being a protective mom here, but I know we really should speak up about it. Would love to hear what others would do in this situation!

    Ok well that is unfortunately what we deal with here in Alabama on regular basis.

  • Polly

    They should be appalled that he believes that anything in the Bible is literally true. Why would you want someone like that to be the leader of your state?!

    They should be apalled because he shares the beliefs of about 85%+ of the population? Religion, all by itself, should automatically render an individual unsuitable for office?

    Maybe the day will come when religion is rare in society as a whole. But for now, wouldn’t it be better to ignore his religion completely and focus on his qualifications?

  • http://frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    Oh my heck. This is so funny, but it’s frightening too.

    I am all about standing up for what you believe in, but one can take things too far. Being able to admit the whole bible shouldn’t be taken literally is a small sign of logic and reason…

    I am sure he thought it was a brilliant idea to have a personal boycott on the store. That’ll show ‘em! Oh, lawdy, what is this nation coming to? If the candidate thinks the whole bible is literally true, then he believes women should be stoned if they don’t bleed on their wedding night…

    I have never been to Alabama, maybe I’ll keep it that way.

  • tennismom

    @Polly…

    Being religious (or non-religious for that matter) does not render someone unsuitable for office, and yes qualifications should be a high point. My family has had multiple people who have held everything from local to State offices, and unfortunately here too many times the votes given to people are not based on qualifications but on religious background (ie: do they go to the “right” church, what are their beliefs on the bible, are they Christians).

    Not sure where you live Polly, but here in AL, again unfortunately, someone’s religion and religious beliefs overshadows their qualifications to often, which really should NOT be the case. I can only speak for here in AL (although I’m sure there are other places that deal with this problem too).

    I know there are other southerners that follow this blog, but if you are not from or ever lived here in the South, it is very hard to explain the true reality of the grip religion has here in the Bible Belt. Unless you have been down here and experienced it for yourself, I’m not sure words could ever truly put it in perspective. As for 85% of the population being religious that is probably true as a whole, but for here in AL realistically it’s closer to 95% (and probable true for most of the Southeast). Where I live it’s probably closer to that 85%, but in the rural and smaller towns in the Southeast it is closer to 99%.

  • Richard Wade

    Here’s a standard disclaimer/recant/apology that politicians can use to extract their feet from their mouths:

    I deeply regret speaking my mind in a frank and honest way. If I have offended anyone by telling the truth, I sincerely apologize. Please permit me now to feed you the lies that you want to hear.

  • Stephen P

    They should be appalled that he believes that anything in the Bible is literally true.

    I don’t think that’s really what you mean, is it? Even I believe that some things in the Bible are literally true. For example when Chronicles says:

    Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah

  • Shawn

    @Stephen P

    I don’t think that’s really what you mean, is it?

    Yay! I’m not the only pedant here! :)

  • http://twitter.com/godlessindixie Godlessindixie

    I live in Alabama. Welcome to what we deal with everyday. This guy appears to the be frontrunner for the job. There are no non-Christians in the race, and the vast majority are literalists. Not only that, but one of the favorites is none other than Roy Moore. Let’s only hope we have more reason than to elect him for anything. Thanks for the attention on the issues down here.

  • http://theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com/ TPO

    Ah yes, I read about this the other day and have been meaning to write about it. As a lifelong Alabamian I tell you first hand that the literal interpretation of the bible is the default position of the majority of its citizens. So Mr. Byrne’s backpedaling wasn’t much of a surprise to me but I was astonished that a Republican politician in Alabama would publicly confess that he believed that parts of the bible should be interpreted metaphorically. Hell, I doubt that there is even a handful of Democrats who would be so bold…or stupid, depending on one’s perspective.

    Alabama is no different than many other states in the union when it comes to an overly religious political atmosphere. Of course a religious litmus test is unacceptable and goes against the spirit of the U.S. Constitution but alas, this is the environment secular Alabamians have to navigate on a daily basis.

    It’s important to remember that there are many atheist’s, agnostic’s, humanist’s, ect… who live within the borders of this beautiful state and we are trying to change it from within but a minority of non-believers cannot change the current status of our politics without convincing many of our religious kinfolk and friends that keeping religion out of politics and standing up for the separation of church and state is the right thing to do.

    For that to happen, we must continue to “come out of the closet” and engage those who would condemn us.

  • Stephen P

    @Shawn:

    Yay! I’m not the only pedant here!

    { virtual handshake }

    Yes, we all knew pretty much what he meant, but I’ve seen similar sloppy sentiments expressed more than once in various places, and I thought it was time for a gentle prod.

    While I’m in pedantry mode: I first put the “virtual handshake” bit in angle brackets, which showed up OK in the preview, but got thrown away on posting. A small bug somewhere.

  • noah

    there are no comments on that Huntsville times article, or, it appears, on any articles on the Huntsville times website. Where did that comment come from?

  • Hybrid

    Having been born, raised, and “born again” in Alabama, I hadn’t met or even known of any atheists until I went off to college. To this day I’ve met a number of out of the closet gays, but only three admitted atheists. The atheists I have met are transplants, and are probably unaware of how they are viewed in “our culture”. For several years I was skeptical of my faith (odd what serious Bible study can do), until just over a year ago I realized that I actually had no justification to hold on to it.

    In Alabama there are (sweeping non-literal generalization warning) two kinds of people: “Christian” and “fundamentalist Christian”. All of my life I’ve watched the Christians (who are the vast majority and keep their faith mostly superficially) placate the fundamentalists. Watching them interact taught me how to blend in as a nonbeliever. Christians here a priori tend to expect that everyone agrees with the basics of their beliefs (because pretty much everyone does). Most of the people in Alabama is NOT prepared for anything as alien as non belief. If you want to fit in, do what a Christian does to avoid conflict with a fundamentalist: reply generally along the lines of “That could be”, or “I see your point” along with a quick change of subject. In almost every case, the other party thinks you agree and moves on.

    I hate being deceptive, but “coming out” here would cause too much grief for my family (including my wife), who would all believe me to be hell-bound for eternity. I also have to consider that that there would probably be a concerted effort to “protect” (indoctrinate) my children from my influences. Finally, “Coming out” I’m fairly sure would stunt my career.

    So that’s what Alabama is like for this skeptic. At this point I feel that I must choose the lesser of two evils in order to keep my family and friends from their irrational fear, to keep my career on track, and to prevent any increased efforts at indoctrinating my children. At least (as it stands) I have a better chance at giving my kids the tools necessary to make decisions on their own (be them toward or away from any faith). That alone is enough for me to put up with the discomfort for as long as I can.

    There isn’t anything rational, logical, or (generally) intellectual about the faith that permeates Alabama. It is a superstitious mysticism that is impossible to escape without severe social consequences. Being an atheist here is like like trying to dissent from within a mob of people who all believe that unicorns are made of light, and that leprechauns are hollow. How can one use reason and rationality to dissent against beliefs that weren’t formed on reason or rationality in the first place?

  • muggle

    now, wouldn’t it be better to ignore his religion completely and focus on his qualifications?

    Polly, I dream of the day!

    tennismom, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve had trouble enough dealing with lesser infractions in New York and Colorado. I don’t envy you your shoes. I tend to go off like your husband does but there’s a reason I don’t choose to move south…

    I tend to feel for any non-Christians of whatever stripe down there.

  • tennismom

    Wow, I am so glad to see others from Alabama jump in on this one. We also have not come out of the closet with my husbands family yet on our non-belief. My mom found out last year, had a cow, and also took it upon herself to tell my siblings, which I did tell her was not her place to do. I haven’t had too much grief from my siblings yet, but I’m sure they think this is a “PHASE” I’m going through. I, like Hybrid, have tried to no draw attention to my non-belief also, but lately have started being a little more vocal about it.

    @ muggle…Thanks! Being a non-believer in the deep South is a tough road at times, but I am finding that I haven’t caught as much grief from those outside of my family, as they find out, as I thought I would, but I’m sure they are doing the same that I have done for year…shake of the head and say uh huh (like Hybrid described also)…then they go and pray my soul. ;-)

    There are times that being a non-believer down here is like being on some major whitewater rapids. My son gave me a ring for Christmas that reads “Be the change in the world that you wish to see!” I think it is very fitting, but very hard to achieve down here.

  • http://erichaas.blogspot.com/ Eric Haas

    Why do people say they believe “every word of it”, or that “every word is true”? What would it mean to believe (or not) the word “the”, for example?

  • Boz

    op said: “I’m glad voters are taking his comments seriously… but they’re doing it the wrong way! They should be appalled that he believes that anything in the Bible is literally true. ”

    There are some parts of the bible that are literally true. e.g. jesus died by crucufixion.

  • Stephen P

    There are some parts of the bible that are literally true. e.g. jesus died by crucufixion.

    And what is your evidence that that particular part is literally true?

    Admittedly, this is one of the less implausible bits. If Jesus actually existed, and if he said things which the Romans interpreted as calling for an insurrection, then they probably would have crucified him. But we don’t know it for sure, and we do know that there are things about the crucifixion story which are highly implausible. For example the local people would almost certainly not have called for him to be crucified (Matthew 27:22) but for him to be stoned.

  • muggle

    tennismom,

    That ring makes it all worth while. You’re raising a smart, thoughtful son. You’re doing something right.

    I’m a grandmother and that melted me. What a sweet gift.

  • BobMuller

    I can’t imagine how tough it is for you folks in the South. Even in my relatively-educated area of the nation (Long Island, NY), there are still lots of religious literalists. I don’t think there’s a more definitive example of the educational problems we have and how endangered the Constitution is.

    Hang in there, Southern rationalists. You’re not as alone as it seems.

  • Boz

    Stephen P:

    crucifixion was common in roman times, so this claim doesn’t need as much evidence to support it, when compared to, for example, miracle stories.

    Josephus, Antiquities 18.63. This was added to by christians at a later date, with the original probably mentioning crucifixion under pilate as prefect.

    Josephus 20.9 mentions the existence of jesus.

    Tacitus, Annals, 15.44 mentions christ being sentenced to death by pilate.

    While ignoring the magical portions of the four gospels, and taking into account they they are very biased, it is possible to assess these texts from a historical point of view. Of course, it is possible that jesus died in different circumstances; however it is reasonable to conclude that he probably died by crucifixion.

  • Hitodama

    There are many idiot politicians down here. I was born and raised down in southeast Alabama, and I still live there, even now. I’ve heard some horror stories from the freethinkers group I go to, but strangley enough, I don’t seem to encounter many outspoken fundies. I’m a very vocal atheist and I belive this state will turn around eventually. Untill then, it’s a chore to find people who I can tolerate to run this state. I’d run myself, if I thought I could.

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