Louisiana Family Forum

The Real Problems With Bobby Jindal And His Prayer Rally

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal skipped an Iowa stage crowded with Republican presidential wannabes on Saturday so he could host a prayer rally on the campus of Louisiana State University. Jindal and others have mischaracterized objections to the rally, suggesting that its critics were somehow out to silence people of faith. So let’s be clear about the real issue: Bobby Jindal used the power and prestige of his office to promote an event backed by some of the nation’s most religiously divisive and stridently anti-gay activists. And in a bid to boost his own political future, he sent a clear message of support for the Christian-nation views of the event’s extremist organizers.

Christians Only, Please

Let’s start with the invitation, sent on Jindal’s official state letterhead. “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival,” he wrote, “if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Leadership to solve the country’s problems “will not come from a politician or a movement for social change,” he wrote in this time of civil rights movement anniversaries. So how will we solve our problems? “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” In a separate letter he wrote to the other 49 governors inviting them to his rally to pray for “spiritual revival” and “heaven’s intervention” over the country. “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”

What does all this suggest to non-Christian Americans (including non-Christian governors) about how Jindal views their contributions? Jindal’s letters reflect the attitudes of rally organizer David Lane, a political strategist who believes America was founded by and for Christians. The event was paid for by the American Family Association, whose chief spokesman, radio host Bryan Fischer, believes the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections apply only to Christians.

The rally was also a showcase for the dominionist views of self-proclaimed “apostles” who promoted and spearheaded the event. One of those “apostles” was the event’s emcee. Doug Stringer has called the 9/11 attacks “a wake-up call” that happened because God was not around to defend America due to abortion, homosexuality, and kicking God out of public schools. While introducing Jindal, Stringer made a brief mention to “Seven Mountains” theology, which states that all the “mountains” in society – arenas like business, entertainment, and government – must be led by the right kind of Christian. A later speaker, Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, spent more time on the “Seven Mountains.” Mills said these spheres of influence belong to God, but are currently occupied by the “enemy.” They therefore need to be evangelized and “occupied by the body of Christ.”

Not Political? Not Credible

Jindal and organizer David Lane declared, unbelievably, that the rally was not political. Lane is a self-described political strategist who works to turn conservative evangelical churches into voter turnout machines for right-wing candidates and causes. Lane is trying to get 1,000 conservative evangelical pastors to run for public office, and he held a recruiting session the day before the prayer rally. Jindal and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma were among the speakers. Another example of the disconnect between rhetoric and reality: Stringer made the claim that the rally was not meant to lift up any politicians while he was standing in front of a huge screen featuring a quote from Bobby Jindal.

The “not political” claim was hard to take seriously given the amount of time devoted to making abortion illegal and declarations that what will tip the scales will be the “the voice of the church in the voting booth.” Jim Garlow, who led church organizing for California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, and who believes the marriage equality movement is demonic, dropped all “nonpolitical” pretense, railing against marriage equality and IRS regulations that restrict the involvement of churches in electoral politics.

Opponents = Enemies

One of the biggest problems with treating politics as spiritual warfare is that you turn your political opponents into spiritual enemies. People who disagree with you on public policy issues are not just wrong, but evil, or even satanic. That makes it pretty hard to work together or find compromise.

In daily prayer calls leading up to the rally, organizers prayed for God to forgive students who were organizing protests, as if disagreeing with Bobby Jindal were a sin – or a form of anti-Christian persecution. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” prayed call leaders, comparing their pleas to Jesus asking God to forgive those who crucified him, and Saint Stephen asking for mercy for those who were stoning him to death. On one call, a prayer leader decreed a “no-go zone for demons” over the sports arena where the event was to be held. At the rally, one speaker talked of storming the gates of Hell. Bishop Harry Jackson finished his remarks by leading the crowd in a chant he has used at anti-gay rallies: “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered!”

Jindal Unplugged, Unhinged, and Unapologetic

Jindal seems to have decided that his best chance in a crowded Republican field is to plant himself at the far right of an already far-right group. In the days leading up to the rally, he drew criticism for comments denigrating Muslims and for repeating bogus charges about Muslim “no-go zones” that Fox News had already apologized for spreading. During a radio interview a few days before the rally, Jindal said liberals pretend that jihadist terrorism isn’t happening and pretend “it’s a good thing to kill journalists, to kill teenagers for watching soccer, to kill over 150 schoolchildren, to treat women as second-class citizens…” He decried political incorrectness and multiculturalism and said of immigrants who do not embrace American exceptionalism, “that’s not immigration, that’s invasion.”

On “This Week” on Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that Jindal had declared at his prayer rally that “on the last page, our God wins,” and asked him if that was appropriate in a religiously diverse country. Jindal praised religious liberty but ducked the question.

On the same show, Jindal said he would back a push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow states to discriminate against same-sex couples, all while saying “I am not for discrimination against anybody.” (Jindal describes himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” and his contradictory rhetoric parallels the language of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which says it opposes “unjust discrimination” against gay people, but defines the term “unjust discrimination” in a way that applies only to those people with “same-sex attraction” who remain celibate.)

Jindal has also promoted far-right policies as governor. As Brian has noted:

Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.

Whose Agenda?

Jindal’s rally was not an original idea. In fact Jindal’s “Response” recycled materials and themes from a similar event that Texas Gov. Rick Perry held in 2011 to launch his presidential bid. Here’s what I wrote about Perry’s event, which applies equally well to Jindal’s – not surprising since both were organized by the same groups of extremists:

Organizers argued (unconvincingly) that "The Response" was about prayer, not politics. But groups like the American Family Association (AFA), which paid for the rally and its webcast…are not designed to win souls but to change American law and culture through grassroots organizing and political power-building. They have a corrosive effect on our political culture by promoting religious bigotry and anti-gay extremism, by claiming that the United States was meant to be a Christian nation, and by fostering resentment among conservative evangelicals with repeated false assertions that liberal elites are out to destroy religious liberty and silence conservative religious voices.

Jindal, of course, has the right to talk about his faith. But it is wrong for him to use his public office to proselytize and denigrate the faith of others. Teaming up with anti-gay extremists and Christian-nation advocates gives them credibility they do not deserve. His actions speak volumes about his judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and equality under the law.

Bobby Jindal's Prayer Rally Advocates Putting Christians In Control Of Government And All Aspects Of Society

When Rick Perry organized his "The Response" prayer rally back in 2011, it brought a lot of unwanted attention to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement and its agenda, in particular the Seven Mountains Mandate, which asserts that conservative Christians should take control of the seven main areas of culture and society: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.

Several NAR leaders were involved in organizing Perry's prayer rally, but started downplaying their agenda as they began to encounter growing scrutiny and criticism.

The organizers of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s "The Response" rally on Saturday — which was modeled on Perry’s event and featured many of the same Christian-nation extremists — didn’t seem to get the memo.

Gene Mills, president of Louisiana Family Forum (an official state affiliate of the Family Research Council) spent his entire ten-minute speech at Jindal's prayer rally this weekend openly preaching Seven Mountains Dominionism from the stage.

Christians have been tasked to take control of "the sphere of influence around civil government," Mills said, because all areas of culture "belong to God." Jindal's prayer rally, Mill's declared, was a key component of their effort "to reclaim territory that rightfully belongs to God" because "these seven spheres of influence are under enemy occupation right now."

After revealing that last month, he and other prayer rally organizers knelt in prayer with Jindal "asking God to break unholy alliances" over these areas of society, Mills led the gathering in a similar prayer.

"Father, we cry out for the seven mountains of influence today," Mills said. "We pray that you will give us government, arts and entertainment, education, the church, and the family. That our ambassadors would occupy the high places. That you would bring us into a place of understanding that they need to be occupied by the body of Christ because it's rightfully His":

Gene Mills: Shelters Should Turn Away Transgender Domestic Abuse Survivors

Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills used his appearance on “Washington Watch” yesterday not only to badly misrepresent a proposed non-discrimination ordinance in Baton Rouge, but also to claim that abuse shelters should be able to discriminate against transgender women who face domestic abuse.

“What if this person who claimed to be a transgendered [sic] actually obtained one of these quote legal marriage licenses in elsewhere USA came here and then claimed battery by their spouse, should that man who has now communicated as a transgendered [sic] who has the anatomical parts of both a male and a female become a resident of the battered women’s shelter and ought they be able to say that’s not acceptable?” Mills asked.

Host Richard Land also feared that businesses won’t be able to discipline salesmen who “show up in high heels and a purse and stockings and a dress and a wig and makeup,” alleging that such ordinances are actually discriminatory by “impinging on the business owner’s right to make a living.”

Richard Land: Cities With Non-Discrimination Laws Criminalized Free Speech

Filling in for Tony Perkins on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” former Southern Baptist Convention official Richard Land discussed the defeat of an LGBT non-discrimination measure in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with Gene Mills of the right-wing Louisiana Family Forum.

Land and Mills both claimed that the ordinance barring employment and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would actually, in Land’s words, “suppress the freedom of speech.”

“Homosexuality and the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community, that is the ultimate rebellion against God,” Land declared. “We don’t want them to take away from us the right to say that, to say that’s a rebellion against God.”

Mills replied: “And that’s exactly what they were doing, they were going to use a cause of action against us to silence — and that is what is happening in ‘everywhere USA’ — religious liberty is under assault…. Any expression, any thought, anything you just shared, could have been construed as a hate crime or an act of discrimination, and the reality is the shame and the guilt the homosexual feels is mistakenly reinterpreted as discrimination and what they attempt to do is to call it discrimination and prohibit it.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, approximately 200 cities have non-discrimination ordinances in place. If anything Mills or Land said in the interview was true, then pastors around the country would be facing prosecution… but they’re not because the two Religious Right activists are completely dishonest.

Louisiana Activist Waxes Nostalgic For Days When Homosexuality Was Considered A Disorder

Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, who is campaigning against a non-discrimination ordinance in the city of Baton Rouge, said on Friday that the ordinance could potentially make pedophilia a legally protected sexual orientation.

Speaking on the Family Research Council radio show “Washington Watch,” Mills also claimed that that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation, “and other behaviors are considered disordered. Because of the sexual, political agenda of many of these activists, they’ve been successful at redefining those disorders and classifying them as orientations.”

“Washington Watch” host Craig James also dismissed the ordinance because “less than three percent, I believe the exact number is 2.3 percent of the people in this country identify themselves with the LGBT community, yet it is a far greater feeling that they are out there in greater force.”

Fair Housing for LGBT People Rejected in Louisiana

Under current law, Louisiana protects the ability "to compete for available housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis, regardless of race, color, religion, [and] sex." House Bill 804, introduced by Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans, would have added to the list protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.

Louisiana Voucher Program Will 'Release the Word of God' and Upset Satan

One of the major backers of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s expansive private school voucher program was Rev. Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, who also endorsed Jindal’s plan to exempt private schools receiving vouchers from participating “in the state testing and accountability program imposed on traditional and charter public schools.” Private schools receiving vouchers under the program, the vast majority of which are religious schools, are free from the requirement to have their students pass state exams to advance to the next grade level and won’t even receive state letter grades meant to evaluate student performance. Through the voucher program, Mills may finally get his wish of teaching creationism in schools as many of the voucher schools teach “bible-based math” and creationism in place of evolution, using the Loch Ness Monster as proof, all with taxpayer funding.

Mills is so close to the governor that he even prayed over Jindal at his organization’s Christmas Gala:

Just in case you need even more evidence that Louisiana’s voucher program was more about financing religious schools than improving student performance, Mills told David Barton and Rick Green today on WallBuilders Live that the program will increase student exposure to “religious material” and “release the Word of God” to children.

And who is rallying the opposition from the “teachers unions and the government bureaucrats”? Why, Satan of course. “There is no doubt it’s going to have its impact and it’s going to hit its target and it’s going to strike fast, and that’s why the Enemy is kicking back,” Mills said, “He realizes what’s going to happen when all of the sudden these kids come into a knowledge unlike their former secular humanist seminary, they are being rooted and grounded in foundational and fundamental, timeless principles that can change a person’s eternity.”

Mills: I think one of the undercurrents that you can’t see but it was one of the reasons that the Louisiana Family Forum weighed in so heavily, is that it has the effect—the further you get away from those options we talked about a moment ago, away from public school, away from the public charter school, away from the public virtual school, and into the private or parochial school—it has the effect of removing the federal court’s jurisdiction from decisions that are made in how that school operates and/or is governed.

For those of us who have a faith background, the idea that the truth can still set kids free, can you imagine what would happen if you uncapped religious clubs, religious speech, student body prayer, religious material, as is the case in most private or parochial schools.

Green: You hit the nail on the head with this because isn’t that the real underlying challenge in America right now? Because, we’ve had now several generations come through an education system void of values, where right and wrong aren’t taught, anything goes, everything is OK, you and up with a society like this. You get half these kids going through a school system where there is a set of values, where there is a right and wrong. It’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic they’re gonna do better, they’re gonna become better people.

Mills: That’s exactly right. I don’t even know if the governor, who is a person friend of mine and we’ve worked closely on this, fully comprehends how imperative or how essential that component is. When you remove the federal courts and you release the power of the word of God, there is no doubt it’s going to have its impact and it’s going to hit its target and it’s going to strike fast, and that’s why the Enemy is kicking back. He realizes what’s going to happen when all of the sudden these kids come into a knowledge unlike their former secular humanist seminary, they are being rooted and grounded in foundational and fundamental, timeless principles that can change a person’s eternity. They will be equipped, and they’ll be educated along the way too, but they’ll be filled with character capable of making insightful decisions towards the future.

I gotta tell you, that’s one of the reasons I believe that what the governor has called the ‘coalition of the status quo’ has raised so many points of opposition, they want to divert attention from their chronic failure throughout the years and they also want to divert attention from what has fundamentally taken place, in Louisiana we’re separating child and state and it’s resulted in traumatic stress amongst the teachers unions and the government bureaucrats but it’s a healthy thing.

Back to School with the Religious Right

The Religious Right continues to target public schools in a variety of ways that disrupt education and threaten religious liberty, according to a report released by People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF). The report provides an in-depth analysis of the struggle over the future of our public education system by focusing on six categories: creationism; textbook controversies; sexuality education; religion and public schools; anti-gay activity and censorship.

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