- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2007

Right now Louisiana Democrats must sound pretty tone-deaf to Christian voters. Seeing Republican Bobby Jindal, a Catholic, pull far ahead in the race for Louisiana governor, they are subjecting the two-term House member to a scurrilous attack ad that accuses him of insulting Baptist and other Protestant “religions.” First off, partisans, “Baptist” and “Lutheran” are denominations, not religions. This ad is a playbook of sorts for disingenuous hate-mongering. No wonder TV stations pulled it for fear of defamation lawsuits. The ad is even too poor for YouTube, which removed it this week.

The purported insult from Mr. Jindal, wrenched from its context in an article that he penned 11 years ago for the Catholic journal New Oxford Review, is actually an exposition of orthodox Catholic belief. In it, Mr. Jindal, a former Hinduist, calls the splintering of Christianity hundreds of years ago a “scandalous series of divisions” and argues that the alternative to the Catholic doctrine he espouses is “to trust individual Christians burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their ‘utterly depraved’ minds… and their selfish desires.” An emphasis on an individual’s relationship with God, he wrote, is “subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy.” In short, all theological propositions and certainly not ones shared by all Christians. But they aren’t unique to Mr. Jindal.

Naturally, this was distorted by would-be theologian-Democrats to make Mr. Jindal appear to call Protestant Christians “depraved” and “scandalous,” which he did not. No mention was made of Mr. Jindal’s calls in the very same article for “all Christians to follow Jesus wherever he leads.” Nor was there mention of Mr. Jindal’s enthusiasm for ecumenical dialogue. That’s what happens when theology is shoehorned into an attack ad for partisan gain.

Insofar as Democrats seek to court the religious voter, they will need to do much more than air ignorant attacks that defame Mr. Jindal — or other lawmakers’ religious beliefs — while suggesting once again that, in fact, the Democratic Party does not understand much about Christian voters.

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