Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal defends upcoming anti-gay prayer rally

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.)

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) AP

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.)AP

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.)

NEW ORLEANS — Gov. Bobby Jindal is defending his participation in a prayer rally on Louisiana State University’s campus next month that has drawn the ire of student protesters who say the group hosting the event promotes discrimination and an anti-gay agenda.

The Jan. 24 prayer rally is expected to draw thousands of people to LSU’s campus.

The event, called The Response, has drawn heavy criticism because of the views of its sponsor organization, the Mississippi-based American Family Association, whose spokesman, Bryan Fischer, is among the nation’s most virulently anti-gay activists.

Right Wing Watch reports that Jindal’s prayer rally appears to be so closely modeled after Texas governor Rick Perry’s 2011 rally that its organizers are even reusing materials from the Texas event, including a prayer guide contending that natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, were the result of God’s displeasure with the “alternative lifestyle” of homosexuality, marriage equality, legal abortion, and Internet pornography.

The prayer guide — originally distributed in connection with Jindal’s January rally — was removed from The Response website last week.

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Jindal, a Roman Catholic, sidestepped a question Wednesday about controversial rally, and maintained his enthusiastic support for the event. The Republican governor is considered a possible presidential contender in 2016.

“It is frustrating and disappointing that the governor of our state has chosen to cosponsor an event with extremist organizations, like the American Family Association, whose values are wildly out of step with the people of Louisiana,” said Tim S. West, president of Equality Louisiana.

“This event is just another example of Gov. Jindal disregarding the people of Louisiana and our well-being in order to gain votes as he positions himself for a presidential campaign.” said West.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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