Robert Bentley, governor of Alabama, has been reportedly kicked out of his church following the release of a recording in which he engaged in inappropriate sexual conversations with top advisor and married mother of three Rebekah Mason.
Senior Pastor Gil McKee did not explicitly state that the governor had been expelled, saying “church discipline is a church family matter.” However, he did confirm that both Bentley and Mason “are no longer members of First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa.”
Bentley’s possible expulsion from the church came following a statement he made last week in which he admitted to and apologized for his inappropriate behavior, though he denied having had a “physical” affair with Mason.
Bentley had previously had a close relationship with the church and once served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher. During his campaign, McKee expressed ardent support for the governor. According to The Gadsden Times, on Bentley’s inauguration day McKee claimed “God has called him to this mission of leadership.”
Members of his church expressed disappointment with the governor’s actions. “We’ve been through the major pain and great disappointment, great disappointment. But you know, that’s life and we forgive people and we love people,” fellow church member Diana Davis said of the scandal.
— Marin Cogan (@marincogan) March 24, 2016
Some political strategists, however, have suggested that the governor’s constituents would be less willing to forgive his hypocritical behavior. In a statement to the Associated Press, Bill Stewart, the former chairman of the department of political science at the University of Alabama, claimed, “It pretty much decimates the reputation that he was elected on, as the doctor that could cure Alabama’s ills, financial and moral.”
Natalie Davis, a political scientist at Birmingham-Southern College, seconded this assessment, stating, “It is bound to diminish his ability to be persuasive.”
The governor has frequently mentioned his faith during his tenure. Following the Supreme Court’s 2015 legalization of same sex marriage, he condemned the ruling, stating “I have always believed in the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. That definition has been deeply rooted in our society for thousands of years.”
The governor also appointed a Christian homeschooling advocate to Alabama’s board of education. Maybe he’ll push to include that whole ‘not coveting thy neighbor’s wife’ thing in the curriculum.
Listen to the recording below: