Bobby Jindal's Creationism and Alliance with David Barton
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Sat Sep 29, 2007 at 10:08:13 PM EST
We are honored to welcome Barbara Forrest as a guest front pager. She was a key expert witness in the landmark federal case Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District. Her testimony proved that "intelligent design" was nothing more than hastily dressed-up creationism -- the teaching of which had already been found to be unconstitutional. She is a member of the board of the National Center for Science Education -- FC

When Bobby Jindal ran for governor of Louisiana in 2003, his support for teaching creationism surfaced during the campaign. Since his defeat in that race and subsequent election to the U.S. House of Representatives, he has continued to tour the state, often speaking at churches. Last fall, he toured north Louisiana churches with Republican Religious Right operative David Barton, who promotes the myth that the United States was founded politically as a Christian nation. During his 2007 campaign for governor, Jindal has largely avoided public forums in which he might be asked unexpected questions, and the media either are unaware of or have avoided covering Jindal's activities with Barton. The Louisiana Democratic Party launched a series of ads regarding Jindal's religious views that have obscured the true issue: his alliance with the Religious Right. What follows is a letter I wrote to a local Louisiana newspaper in order to accurately inform the public about Jindal's creationism and alliance with Barton.

To the Editor
Bobby Jindal has avoided forums where he might be asked unscripted questions. His views on important issues makes his avoiding questions understandable. There is a striking contradiction between his education platform, Education Reform: Improving Education Opportunities for Louisiana’s Children and the Religious Right positions he endorses. He supports pseudo-science and pseudo-history that will harm rather than reform Louisiana education: (1) creationism, which is unconstitutional in public schools, and (2) the false history of America’s founding as a Christian nation. Religious and non-religious citizens in all political parties should be concerned.

Mr. Jindal’s alliance with the Religious Right has been obscured by the Louisiana Democratic Party’s ham-fisted ads attacking him as anti-Protestant. Not only are Democrats wrong to use religion politically, but their ads are factually incorrect: Mr. Jindal, a Catholic, is not anti-Protestant. He works hand in hand with evangelical Protestants who oppose public education and church/state separation. Conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants became allies in 1994 to pursue a shared political agenda (“Evangelicals and Catholics Together”). Although they certainly don’t represent all Christians, they pursue common goals such as putting right-wing ideologues into federal judgeships, promoting intelligent design creationism, and dismantling church/state separation. Democrats didn’t have to make Mr. Jindal’s religious views a political issue. He has done this himself.

Mr. Jindal’s platform calls for promoting “math, science and literacy” and hiring teachers in fields such as “physics, math, or biology” (p. 5).  However, an important fact from his 2003 gubernatorial campaign should be recalled: Mr. Jindal supports teaching creationism. In September 2003, the Associated Press reported his answering “yes” on the Louisiana Family Forum’s voter guide as to whether he favored teaching the “scientific weaknesses of evolution” (creationist codetalk) in public schools. (LFF is affiliated with Focus on the Family, a powerful Religious Right organization.) When a reporter asked his position on teaching creationism, Mr. Jindal’s response clearly favored undermining the teaching of evolution: “With evolution there are flaws and gaps. I think it's appropriate to tell our students that no scientific theory can prove evolution.” (“Sharp questions put candidates at governor’s forum on spot,” Associated Press, September 25, 2003) Jindal, a Rhodes scholar and Brown University biology graduate, surely knows better but apparently opted for political expediency.

Jindal has made his religion an issue by fusing personal religiosity and politics. The 2/28/07 Livingston Parish (LA) News reported that his February 2007 Abundant Life Church speech (in Denham Springs, LA), attended by “prominent local politicians,” consisted “almost entirely” of his Christian testimony. Jindal was also photographed praying with Destiny International Church pastors during a party at the church coordinated by Livingston Parish Republican Women. (Livingston Parish News, 4/26/07)

Among Jindal’s most troubling allies is Republican Religious Right operative David Barton, who calls church/state separation “a myth.” Barton, who runs an organization called Wallbuilders, has used bogus quotations by the Founding Fathers to support his contention in books and videos that American government was founded on Christianity. Americans United for Separation of Church and State exposed Barton as a pseudo-historian who “makes a living” attacking church/state separation (Church & State, April 1993). Mr. Jindal promotes this false history.

Journalist Frederick Clarkson reported in October 2006 that Jindal and Barton visited Baptist churches in Alexandria, Bossier City, and West Monroe. Describing these visits on Barton’s Wallbuilders Live! radio program a few days later (October 18 & 19, 2006), Jindal praised Barton’s pseudo-history: “Dave did a fantastic job, went to three churches with us, just reminding us of our nation’s history [and] heritage.” Barton, calling Jindal a “product of what we were able to put in office in 2004” because of the “huge increase in Christian voter turnout,” praised Jindal’s desire to “make a difference in the culture war.”

Voters who value religious freedom and disapprove of George Bush’s attack on church/state separation should consider what Mr. Jindal may do as governor, aided by his Religious Right allies. His religious views should be no one else’s concern, but he has made them everyone’s concern.
Barbara Forrest 

[Disclaimer: I am writing here as a private citizen. I am not speaking for the institutions or organizations with which I am affiliated.]

Although I am no Constitutional scholar, I have repeatedly read through three very important documents: the United States Constitution, The Federalist (the series of essays pseudonymously penned by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, published for the purpose of convincing the states to ratify the Constitution) and James Madison's Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787. Dry reading though it may be, nonetheless these three resources make it abundantly clear what the Founding Fathers intended to create: a form of government, i.e. a nation, unprecedented in this one concept: that the new republic would vest ultimate supremacy of power to the people it represented, and not to any one person or branch of government. Hence the "checks and balances" brought forth by separating our government into three branches of equal power, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary, each of them being accountable to the people, with provision for removal from office (e.g. being voted out, or impeached, or reaching term limits). Additionally, the Constitution itself provides the means to wholly change its own provisions by Amendment. Nowhere in Christian scripture does this concept exist. In Christianity ultimate power resides in the judgement of God. Leaders are neither responsible nor accountable to the people they serve, they are only accountable to God. Only if God acts to remove them can they be removed from power, and it is all to easy for a leader to claim that the people's will (to remove a particular leader from power) is contrary to God's will; since the leaders were ordained by God in the first place to lead, only God can remove them from power, and as long as they're alive, well obviously it is God's will that they remain in power. Catch-22. Barton, Norris, and McCain do their country a most dishonable act by claiming that this country's government is Biblically based. It is not, it is wholly secular, and even a casual student of history like myself can see this plainly with just a little bit of study. Welcome, Barbara Forrest, to Talk to Action.

by Forrest Prince on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 02:18:50 PM EST

Thank you Barbara for keeping the proper focus on Bobby Jindal. As I've already written, Jindal's Catholicism is of a neo-orthodox variety, clearly not representative of mainstream American Catholics.

Well done.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 04:50:33 PM EST

Jindal was one of the first guests on Barton's radio show, WallBuilders LIVE. He did a two-part interview on October 18 and 19, 2006, which you can still listen to in the show's archives:

by Chris Rodda on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 05:32:28 PM EST

To one of my favorite people. Welcome to Talk2Action, Barbara.

by Ed Brayton on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 12:58:40 AM EST

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