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By Jan Moller
BATON ROUGE, La. (RNS) A Republican gubernatorial candidate accused Louisiana Democrats of reaching “a new low” with TV ads that accuse him of insulting Protestants, and demanded the ad be taken off the air.
Democratic Party officials continued to defend the spot, as did its two leading candidates for governor, despite cries of outrage from Republican officials about the ads aimed at U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal.
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.
The commercial began running Monday in the Shreveport, Alexandria and Monroe media markets, which are more heavily Protestant than the southern part of the state. It features an unidentified woman narrator proclaiming that Jindal “insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants” via articles he wrote in the mid-1990s.
“He has referred to Protestant religions as scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical,” the narrator says. It then directs viewers to a Web site, www.jindalonreligion.com, where links to the articles are found.
Jindal, who converted to Catholicism as a teen after being raised by Hindu parents, said the commercial is defamatory and misleading and denied that he has ever insulted another branch of the Christian faith.
“They’re absolute lies. We’re not talking about an exaggeration,” Jindal said. “They’re completely out of bounds here.”
Late Tuesday (Aug. 21), a lawyer hired by Jindal’s campaign sent a letter to north Louisiana TV stations demanding the ad be taken off the air.
According to the letter, “each claim made in the advertisement distorts Mr. Jindal’s positions with false and grossly distorted statements.”
Democratic Party spokeswoman Julie Vezinot said the commercial is backed up by voluminous documentation.
“The writings referenced in the ad are Bobby’s own words and are not taken out of context, as his campaign claims,” Vezinot said. “This is just another example of Bobby’s pattern of telling one side of the story: the one he wants voters to hear.”
In several of the articles linked on the Web site, most of which first appeared in the Catholic magazine New Oxford Review, Jindal describes a spiritual journey that led him to explore various Christian churches and denominations before deciding in his late teens to convert to Catholicism.
Jindal said that while his religious beliefs have evolved over the years, nothing he wrote in his 20s could be construed as an insult to other faiths.
“I’m sure that there are tons of things that I’ve said or wrote that reflect an immature mind,” he said. “(But) nothing I’ve said or written could be mis-characterized” the way it’s portrayed in the campaign commercial.
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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