By Bob Allen
Americans United for Separation of Church and State criticized Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal Dec. 18 for using his official letterhead to invite residents to an evangelical prayer rally.
“These are historic and defining times, a new world order of chaos is being driven by militant Islam seeking to impose Sharia Law worldwide,” Jindal said in an open invitation to the “The Response-Louisiana: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.”
“Our nation is faced with fatherlessness homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism — Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope,” he continued. “We need Spiritual Transformation.”
The Washington-based religious-liberty watchdog said Jindal’s invitation letter “makes a mockery” of his oath to uphold the Constitution.
“Gov. Jindal, you were elected to represent all of your constituents, not just the Christians,” read the letter signed by AU Legal Director Ayesha Khan and Staff Attorney Ian Smith. “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 AU lawyers asked Jindal to “withdraw this invitation and all governmental support” from the event, already being criticized because it is being held on the campus of a public university and is sponsored by a Christian group opposed to homosexuality.
Louisiana State University student organizations and other groups around the state say the Peter Maravich Assembly Center on campus is the wrong place to hold a Jan. 24 prayer rally bankrolled by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization based in Tupelo, Miss., opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage and negative portrayal of Christianity in the media.
Jindal defended his role as headline speaker for the event he described as “an opportunity for people across denominational lines to come together to pray.”
“It’s not a political event, it’s a religious event,” said Jindal, who is ineligible for re-election as governor but is openly considering running for president in 2016.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said Jindal should stick to governing instead of preaching.
“Gov. Jindal has no business sponsoring a prayer rally,” said Lynn, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. “Louisiana’s houses of worship are the proper agents to call people to prayer, not a band of bureaucrats in Baton Rouge.”