Southern Religion

Whirlybird Gov. Jindal hit rough weather

The Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, wrote an open letter asking Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jendal questions about his use of state-funded helicopters to attend church, a costly practice documented by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Jindal’s spokeswoman, Melissa Sellers, answered in what has become the classical American right-wing manner — with an attack, well-characterized as “unrelated” by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. As the The Times-Picayune reported:

This political group opposes putting crosses up in honor of fallen policemen, has attacked the National Day of Prayer and advocates for same-sex marriage, so it’s not surprising that they are attacking the governor for accepting invitations to speak at Louisiana churches.

Actually, Jindal encountered heavy weather with Americans United last year for his misuse of state helicopters. The Louisiana Advocate and WBRZ news reported:

From the time of taking office in January until Hurricane Gustav hit on Sept. 1, Gov. Bobby Jindal has spent nearly $180,000 in taxpayer money to travel in State Police helicopters. … In eight months, Jindal used State Police helicopters:

  • Five times to attend Chamber of Commerce banquets.
  • Eight times to go to town hall meetings.
  • A dozen times to worship in churches across the state.

He also flew in a helicopter to make a halftime appearance at a basketball tournament, to speak at a high school graduation, to sign legislation, to celebrate the passage of his ethics package and to go to a fishing rodeo.

View Gaddy’s comments to Rachel Maddow here.

Jindal’s irrelevant political attack in response to Gaddy’s question makes strained sense when you consider the purpose of all that whirlybirding about. James Gill, a columnist for The Times-Picayune, explains:

These excursions seem to have more to do with politics than government, or even religion. Jindal’s affinity for Protestants makes a lot of sense considering that, in losing the 2003 gubernatorial election to Kathleen Blanco, he fared particularly badly in north Louisiana.

No need to speculate about Jindal’s office-seeking plans. The Boston Herald reported in December:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he’s not interested in a 2012 run for president and will seek re-election in 2011.

Unless of course Sarah Palin rises again politically and reaches out for a Southern Catholic vice presidential running mate who is acceptable to some Baptists.

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Politics, Religion | | Comments Off on Whirlybird Gov. Jindal hit rough weather