The Luv Guv exits

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Two months later, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's wife Dianne filed for divorce.


I'm saying yes.

The "irretrievable breakdown" of the marriage resulted from Dianne finding her state-issued iPad filled with electronic billets doux between her 74-year-old husband and his beautiful 40-something aide Rebekah. (The iPad was synced with his state-issued smart phone, oops.)

As an historian, I can say with some confidence that old guys becoming besotted with beautiful younger women antedates same-sex marriage.

Let it be noted that this particular instance featured more than a dollop of hypocrisy on the part of the Southern Baptist deacon and Sunday School teacher known for bringing the Bible into the public policy arena. Oh, and claiming that God had personally elevated him to the Alabama governorship.

As an historian, I can say with some confidence that hypocrisy also antedates same-sex marriage.

In all fairness, Bentley never claimed that same-sex marriage would destroy traditional marriage. He claimed that it would destroy the "rights of children to be connected to their biological parents."

Whatever, the circumstances go some way towards explaining why Bentley took the plea bargain and resigned the governorship this week.

It's not that Alabama is unfamiliar with divorce. The state has the seventh-highest divorce rate in the lower forty-eight -- extramarital affairs no doubt being responsible for a lot of that.

But it was just real hard for this paladin of the Alabama Baptist Convention to 'fess up to what he did, such that he broke some ethics and campaign finance laws trying to cover it up.

In another state, like maybe New York, the marriage breaks up but the governorship goes on. Just ask Rudy Giuliani. Or Andrew Cuomo.

The whole affair, reports the New York Times, has been a "bitter blow" to Alabama Christians. Partly because Bentley fell from grace, but even more, it seems, because it took a year and a half to extrude the sinner from the governorship.

Back in the good old days, it seems, he would have been out of there in a New York minute.

"The idea that moral hypocrisy hurts you among evangelical voters is not true, if you’re sound on all of the fundamentals," retired Auburn historian Wayne Flynt told the Times. "At this time, what is fundamental is hating liberals, hating Obama, hating abortion and hating same-sex marriage.”

That's fundamentalism in 21st-century Alabama. I think I prefer the old-time religion.


  1. It was good Bentley didn’t claim that gay people were going to destroy marriage. From what I have noticed, people that commit adultery and fornication usually destroy their own marriages.

    But the whole thing about keeping children from knowing their bio-parents? Perhaps he should have been talking to the heterosexual parents who produce those children, rather than gay people. And of course, one has to wonder what his relationship would be with his own children, that that we know he has lusted after women not his wife?

    but she’s in the clear, at least. Because Jesus tells us that divorce for any reason except fornication and adultery is simply bad, and disqualification from future marital bliss.

  2. A very well framed statement, my only caveat would be that given the natural proclivities of the human animal, lusting after another not one’s own is a common difficulty that many experience inside the Church or out. What makes the difference is how one responds to such inclinations. Clearly the former governor failed the test badly, damaging both his personal testimony and the community of faith of which he is a member. He has not done the Church any service, but he has the opportunity to repent and he now has plenty of time for solitude and reflection.

  3. You re right about that Edward. HE’ll have lots of time to reflect.

    But repent? The only way I could see that as meaningful is if he went back to his wife. Other than that, it would sound suspiciously like he was repenting because he got caught, not because he committed adultery and divorced his wife.

    But you know I’m a bit cynical about this stuff.

  4. In the Bible, God “elevated” a young man named David to be the King of Israel. A man after God’s own heart, God said.

    But then there was that little fling with
    Bathsheba. And then murder. Not even the Luv Guv went that far.

    So, does that one gig falsify the claim that God “elevated” David to kingship? Does it nullify what God said about David bring a man after God’s own heart? How about those Davidic Psalms? Do we just grab some scissors and chop ’em out?

    I support the Luv Guv’s removal. I’m glad he chose to resign (although he shouldn’t have waited a year and a half on it).

    But Mark Silk maybe needs to te- check his Bible on one or two aspects of this thing. God is still real, Jesus is still the Messiah, and the Bible is still totally true (ALL of it), despite everybody’s scandals.

  5. But at least he can claim he’s not as bad as Bill Clinton: Clinton cheated, lied, denied, and stayed in office. And the dems love him to this day.

  6. The last paragraph is a non sequitur, addressing matters not covered in Silk’s commentary.

  7. I disagree. The last part of Silk’s article devolves from a critique of Bentley’s errors to an attack on “fundamentalism.” Hence my last paragraph was appropriate.

  8. A known non-believer (in the gods), would have no chance in public politics in Alabama. The irony is that pitifully few of our believers could pass a simple test identifying the essential beliefs of the Christian faith as defined by the major denominations themselves. “Three gods in one, four gods in one -(teacher) just tell me how many gods in one the are, so I can go out and play”

  9. And everyone who reads the bible must remember that it originated in mythological times. Adaptive interpretations are vital, as with all ancient literature. It cannot be taken like today’s discoveries or news.

  10. Hi Ben,
    You know these superficial fundies have been repenting regularly since they were kids. It’s a regular part of the revival ritual that is so popular in these parts. On rare occasions it can be more than that, but how can often can the camel go through the eye of the needle? *
    *For you Bible literalists, be advised that the eye of a needle is a narrow city gate.

  11. Haven’t seen you for a while. Welcome back.?

    I came across this yesterday in James Stephens’s Crock of Gold, and immediately saved it. It’s perfect for the matter at hand.

    “ When they were able to realize of what they had been guilty, they were very sorry indeed, and endeavoured to publish their repentance in many ways; but, lacking atonement, repentance is only a post-mortem virtue which is good for nothing but burial.”

  12. Understood, but it may not be his decision. She chose to divorce him, which biblically speaking was her right, it is a rare thing even among Christians to forgive infidelity, but I’m encouraged whenever it occurs.

  13. As I recall, Leviticus says adulterers should be put to death for their sins. I’m amazed that adultery is not a capital crime in Alabama.

  14. Also for eating shrimp. AL is the second largest producer of shrimp.

  15. Nope. He’s worse. Bill never ran on a public morals platform or tried to attack civil liberties of others. False equivalence is a common argument these days for people unable to find the merits in the politicians they support.

    But then again, as every conservative has demonstrated as of late: values, morals, rule of law are only to be used as a weapon against other people. At no point are they supposed to apply to themselves.

  16. My comment was meant tongue in cheek.
    “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”
    – Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar
    I would stretch that assessment to include any politician.

  17. Dude, Poe’s Law.

    If you aren’t indicating sarcasm, you will likely be mistaken for a wingnut.

  18. Alabama is unreservedly and proudly anti-gay, yet it’s a state filled with moral hypocrisy (though Louisiana takes the cake on moral hypocrisy). Well, Alabama is still fighting the end of segregation, so women’s rights and LGBT rights are still many decades away for them. You step back 50 years when you go to Alabama (and to be fair Mississippi is even worse, and all Southern states are behind to one degree or another). I’m a native Southerner, so I get to criticize my people. Many of us are fighting for equality in the South.

    By the way, Bentley destroyed his 50 year marriage. He’s a total scoundrel!

  19. You’re wrong – the eye of the needle being a city gate is a myth promoted by…wait for it…wait for it…fundamentalists. The hyperbole Jesus used would have lost its force had the eye of a needle simply been a gate. In fact, there is no evidence that gate ever existed.
    You’re welcome.

  20. I’m sure more than one adulterer has been put to death in these good United States, but not by the church or by the state – usually, however, by the offended spouse.

  21. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. – Pvt. Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue

    And to think, shrimp is a cousin to the cockroach.

  22. Hi Harry,
    Here’s Wikipedia on the subject:
    The “Eye of the Needle” has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. This story has been put forth since at least the 15th century, and possibly as far back as the 9th century. However, there is no widely accepted evidence for the existence of such a gate.

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