Americans United for Separation of Church and State today told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to end his sponsorship and endorsement of an evangelistic Christian rally, saying his behavior is inappropriate and possibly illegal.
Jindal used official state letterhead to invite residents to “The Response-Louisiana,” a fundamentalist Christian event that, in Jindal’s words, promotes the idea that “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.”
Asserts AU’s letter, “When you became Governor, you swore an oath to support the Constitution and laws of the United States. The invitation letter makes a mockery of that oath by flagrantly violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
The letter goes on to say, “Governor 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 Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United’s executive director, said Jindal should focus on governance, not preaching.
“Gov. Jindal has no business sponsoring a prayer rally,” said Lynn. “Louisiana’s houses of worship are the proper agents to call people to prayer, not a band of bureaucrats in Baton Rouge.”
The Response is being underwritten by the American Family Association, a stridently anti-gay Christian fundamentalist ministry based in Mississippi. The rally is scheduled to take place at a stadium on the campus of Louisiana State University Jan. 24.
AU’s letter, signed by Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan and Staff Attorney Ian Smith, asks Jindal to withdraw the invitation and all governmental support from this evangelistic event and requests a response within 30 days.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.