Last week we reported that LSU students are organizing protests and other events in response to "The Response," a prayer rally to be hosted by the American Family Association — an anti-LGBT hate group — on the university's campus January 24.
Since then, the LSU Faculty Senate has issued a strongly worded condemnation of "The Response," which will be headlined by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal (above) as he prepares to kick off his 2016 presidential campaign. The Faculty Senate said although it doesn't appear the university can legally deny the rental of space to the AFA, the rally is "inconsistent with the goals and aspirations of a great university":
The Faculty Senate has made use of its extensive media resources to focus public attention on this matter. ... In all of these interview opportunities, Faculty Senate representatives have stressed that the “Response” event both damages the University and conflicts with its values, whether by associating intolerance with University venues or interfering with the goal of disseminating the best in science. ...
The story of “The Response” is far from over, but I do want to assure the LSU and the statewide higher education community that the LSU Faculty Senate is working vigorously to assist the administration not only in repairing the damage resulting from this event but also in using it as an educational, formative opportunity.
Despite widespread opposition from students and faculty at LSU, Jindal continues to defend holding "The Response" on campus. The other day, he insisted the rally is "not a political event, it's a religious event":
"Christians have the right to rent, to pay for a hall at a public university so they can come together and pray," Jindal told reporters at an economic development announcement in New Orleans.
Asked if he agreed with the American Family Association's agenda, Jindal sidestepped that question and said, "The left likes to try to divide and attack Christians."
Jindal said the protesters themselves should consider joining the prayer rally. He said they "might benefit from prayer."
Meanwhile, in addressing criticism of the event, AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer continues to suggest that gays are to blame for natural disasters. The website for "The Response" initially included a prayer guide blaming gays, abortion and pornography for Hurricane Katrina, but it was quickly removed. However, Fischer told The Times-Picayune:
"We do know that natural disasters can be a form of God's judgement on an unrepentant nation. It's fitting that a part of the country that is obviously at risk for natural disasters would lead the nation in modeling repentance."
The AFA's David Lane told The Times-Picayune that "The Response" is the first in a series of similar events the group is planning next year, and he hinted that other possible headliners include perennial GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry headlined an AFA prayer rally in Houston in 2011 to kick off his presidential campaign, so we assume Perry and GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be fighting over the Lone Star State's AFA hatefest next year.
Ultimately, though, these events may only backfire by galvanizing progressive opposition in places where they're held, such as in Baton Rouge. A reader poll on The Times-Picayune website shows that 66 percent of respondents believe "The Response" should be held at a private building or church.
Watch Jindal's invitation to "The Response," AFTER THE JUMP ...