Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s upcoming prayer rally has been organized by David Lane, a Christian-nation absolutist who believes America was founded by and for Christians and demands that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. The American Family Association, whose chief spokesperson believes the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections do not apply to non-Christians, is paying for the rally.
It’s clear that Jindal, a convert to Christianity, is positioning himself to win the support of conservative evangelicals for a potential presidential bid. (Lane for one has cheered Jindal’s recent remarks about Muslims.) But does Jindal see himself as a potential president for all Americans, or only American Christians?
Jindal’s initial letter inviting “friends and fellow patriots” to the event — on his official letterhead —declared, “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival, 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.’” Jindal’s letter declared, “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” What does that say to non-Christian Americans about how Jindal views them and their contributions to America’s future?
Jindal also recorded a video promoting the event as the spark that would help bring the “spiritual revival” America needs.
This week the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody reported that Jindal sent a letter to the other 49 governors inviting them to attend. “We need an appeal to heaven for heaven’s intervention over us,” he wrote. “We need to pray to the Lord that He will send spiritual revival to our nation.”
“This gathering will be apolitical in nature,” Jindal writes unconvincingly to his fellow governors, adding, “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”
Is Jindal unaware that not all his fellow governors are Christians, or does he just not care?
Jindal, of course, has the right as an American to participate in a rally like this. But it is wrong for him to use the power of his office to proselytize for his own faith and denigrate the faith of others. The critics of his prayer rally have the right, and good reason, to question what his promotion of this event says about Jindal’s judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and other constitutional principles.