Gov. Asa Hutchinson talked about some controversial issues in the state while giving the keynote address at the 15th annual Good Friday luncheon at True Holiness Saints Center.
"It is our job to pursue justice in our life and in our public policy," Hutchinson said. "Fairness is different from justice."
He gave the example of a father with a large estate who has four children but chooses to leave everything to just one of his children when he dies.
"It’s not fair but it is just," he said.
He said he was proud of the work the state legislature did during its most recent session.
"I’m proud of our General Assembly that they made the decision to pass legislation to separate the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert E. Lee," he said to roaring applause. "That was the right thing to do with the historic record of Dr. King and what he did because of civil rights.
"What I was impressed with was how something like that, that I thought would divide us, actually brought people together because they learned to listen to someone else.
"As one Senator said, ‘This might not be important to us, but it’s important to a lot of other people and scripture says that we should esteem others above ourselves.’"
Hutchinson also addressed the controversial decision to try to execute eight inmates over an 11-day period starting Monday.
"As you all know, this time in our state is a very difficult time. We have a lot of national scrutiny on our state and on me," he said. "We try to make the right judgments and I know even in this room, there are disagreements on some of these tough issues.
"We just have to sort through them. I am grateful for those that are in prayer for me and for our state during this time."
True Holiness Saints Center Pastor E. C. Maltbia praised the governor for how he has handled being in the national spotlight, calling the governor "a uniter."
"Whether in our state or on the national stage, he is a leader," Maltbia said.
Early Saturday, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued an injunction to halt the executions, saying the condemned men have the right to challenge the drug protocol. The attorney general’s office promised an appeal to overturn Baker’s order.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.