Political ad campaign attacks Catholic candidate for governor

US Representative Bobby Jindal
US Representative Bobby Jindal


A political scuffle has ensued between rival candidates who are campaigning to become the next governor of Louisiana. The brouhaha began when Bobby Jindal’s challengers ran a television ad that accuses him of calling Protestants "scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical.”

The 30-second ad features a woman on-screen saying Jindal doesn't respect other people's religion and directs viewers to a website with links to several articles Jindal authored in the 1990s on Catholicism. The ad is running in heavily Protestant central and north Louisiana.

The articles referred to include a piece published in the New Oxford Review in 1996. In it, Jindal writes about the Catholic religion as the true Christian faith and refers to a "scandalous series of divisions and new denominations" of religions since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

"Despite my best efforts, I could find no justification in the Bible or the Early Church for any individual to establish his own church apart from the one established by Christ," Jindal wrote.

He also wrote about how Christians should strive for unity and says the Catholic Church must incorporate the "spirit-led movements" of other Christian faiths.

A lawyer for the Jindal campaign sent a letter to nine television stations airing the ad, requesting that they stop showing it and calling it defamatory. The Jindal campaign maintains that the ad distorts Jindal’s writing.

State Democratic Party officials said they would not pull the ad. And while both major Democratic candidates — state Sen, Walter Boasso and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell — denied their association to the ad, they did not call for it to be removed.

A former Democratic communications strategist reacted to the ad, calling it an outrageous attack that distracts from more important topics in the governor's race, like hurricane recovery, health care and education.

Bob Mann, now a mass communication professor at Louisiana State University, said he was surprised the Democratic Party “would run something that explosive and that inflammatory.”

John Sutherlin, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, said he did not think the ad would peel voter support away from Jindal, who is leading the governor’s race.

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