BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Mississippi-based organization hosting a January prayer rally featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday that the event's sole purpose is religious.
Critics of the event by the American Family Association have said the rally, to be held on LSU's campus, is designed to further Jindal's presidential ambitions. They've vowed to protest the rally because they say the organization promotes discrimination and an anti-gay agenda.
In a statement, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon didn't directly address the controversy. But he said the rally "has one purpose and one purpose only: to approach God in humility and pray for his mercy, grace and guidance for our nation, which has lost its moral foundation and is suffering from a crisis of faith."
The Jan. 24 rally is expected to draw thousands of people to LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center and to raise Jindal's profile with Christian conservatives, as he builds a possible presidential campaign. Texas Gov. Rick Perry headlined a similar prayer event in 2011 only days before launching his White House bid.
Jindal hasn't commented on the views of the American Family Association, which has linked same-sex marriage and abortion to disasters such as tornadoes and Hurricane Katrina. But he has defended his role as the headline speaker at the prayer rally, saying it was a religious event, not a political one.
More than 1,100 people have signed a change.org petition urging the university to scrap the event, and a protest is planned at the rally.