Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has stirred up a hornet's nest, simply by making plans to kneel and pray.
Jindal plans to be the headline speaker at a massive prayer rally scheduled for Jan. 24 at the Pete Maravich Center on the campus of Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, but it's the sponsoring group of the rally that has everyone in a tizzy, MSNBC reports.
Jindal, a Catholic and possible contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, was invited to speak at "The Response —
Louisiana" by the American Family Association (AFA), a group which those protesting the event have characterized as an "extremist" evangelical group which opposes abortion and gay rights and blames them for natural disasters like 2005's Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
Jindal, in a letter announcing the rally, wrote, "I believe America is in great need. Leadership will not come from a politician or a movement for social change. We are in need of spiritual and reforming revival if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders.
"People of all ages, denominations, ethnic
and racial backgrounds will gather to pray and fast for America, asking God for mercy and grace for what we Christians have allowed in our nation."
Jindal told reporters, "Let’s be clear about what this is. This is an opportunity for people across denominational lines to come together to pray. It’s not a political event, it’s a religious event," MSNBC noted.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
have blasted Jindal and urged him to drop his appearance, writing, "Gov. Jindal, you were elected to represent all of your constituents, not just the Christians. Your proselytizing letter under the seal of your office and the state of Louisiana represents a flagrant disregard for large portions of your constituency, and of the requirements of the Constitution of the United States."
The group's executive director, Barry W. Lynn added, "Gov. Jindal has no business sponsoring a prayer rally. Louisiana’s houses of worship are the proper agents to call people to prayer, not a band of bureaucrats in Baton Rouge."
Kenneth Cope, president of the LSU Faculty Senate, told the Times-Picayune
that the AFA is an "anti-intellectual organization" and added, "It would seem that a reasonable governor would not have put the university in this position."
In September, LSU approved an "equal opportunity clause," guaranteeing to represent all students regardless of sexual orientation and LSU students already have planned a protest of the prayer rally. However Clay Tufts, student body president, said the student government likely will take no stand on the issue, the Times-Picayune reported.
"Just because [the AFA] is hosting this event — and people may think they have a radical agenda — of course, that is not reflective on the university in any way or its students," Tufts said.
Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry held a "The Response" rally in 2011 just before he announced his candidacy for president.
Shannon Bates, Jindal's spokeswoman, told the Times-Picayune, "I hope those coming to protest will come out on January 24th and decide to join us inside for prayer. It's going to be a great event worshiping the Lord and praying for our nation."
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