A recent Baton Rouge Advocate article detailed the 14 trips taken by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in a taxpayer-funded helicopter to Protestant evangelical churches. Jindal, a Catholic, spent an estimated $45,000 to attend Sunday services. Some religious leaders believe this to be a violation of the separation of church and state.
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance, and a pastor at Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, LA wrote an open letter to Governor Jindal:
"If you were traveling to these churches to worship with the various congregations, you should have paid your own expenses to get there as did the other worshippers. If you were traveling to these churches for the purpose of sharing your personal faith and encouraging faith in others, state funds absolutely should not have been used to pay your expenses. Indeed, in that instance, your state-funded actions were a violation of the United States Constitution's promise of religious freedom which has been a critical contributor to the vitality of religion in our nation. If you were traveling to these churches for political purposes, you should not have been there in the first place, regardless of who funded the travel...For the sake of religion, please do not politicize houses of worship in Louisiana and rob those of us who minister there of the credibility that allows our faith to be a healing force in our state and across our land," Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy.
In this Huffington Post exclusive, Governor Bobby Jindal responded to the charges. He delivered his remarks in front of a spiral staircase while wearing a candy cane-striped tie.
Here is the previously unreleased transcript:
(Long pause. Long pause. Long pause. Long pause.)
I'm Gov-er-nor Bobby Jindal. As I was walking through the aisles of my local grocery store this morning, mapping out my 2010 Easter brunch, I was thinking of the words of my Father.
"Bobby," he said as we sat down to a plate of Dahi Vada, "As Americans we can do anything."
I still believe that today. When we pull together, there is nothing we can't overcome.
Some have questioned my usage of a helicopter to attend church services in North Louisiana, where the true conservatives, my people, live. To these critics I say, you don't understand that I am bringing people together, and what I've overcome to meet the demands of this hallowed vocation. When I was a teenager, I overcame my Hindu upbringing to become a Catholic. Jesus spoke to me and told me Vishnu doesn't vote.
Recently, I overcame the whole going to Catholic services on Sunday edict as well. The Pope doesn't pull the lever either.
Where some see wasteful government spending, I see a way to deliver a powerful message to my God-and-government-fearing constituents. Like Jesus and the money changers, I wasn't kidding when I said we didn't want stimulus funds, even when I was asking about the stimulus funds. Keep your enemies closer the good Lord always says.
Since we won't by building a high-speed rail....(Whispers off to the side) We're sure on that right... Since we won't be building a high-speed rail, I consider the helicopter an example of fiscal discipline. I'm not like one of those Washington insiders wasting money on some crazy high-speed rail line. You might say, helicopters provide the low-cost wings, so I can meet-and-greet with the Lord's chosen angels.
As I fly over the great state of Louisiana, I think of all the things we've overcome. I recall another Republican taking a Louisiana helicopter trip...
Has it really been four years already? My how time flies. Before you know it, the Presidential election will be upon us.... (Long pause. Long pause. Long pause. Long pause.)
But I digress. Today, I am here to talk about how far The Bayou State has come under my leadership, working with all kinds of folks, both Catholics and Protestants, to make our state stronger.
Consider that four years ago, on this very day, the full deployment of Army and Air National Guard reached New Orleans. And a mere 24 hours later, the Superdome was completely evacuated. It is clear to me that without government-funded helicopters, we couldn't have done the work of the people, or the work of my personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Hurricane Katrina showed that when people come together, amazing things can happen in a week to ten days time.
I don't get down to New Orleans as much as I'd like to, mainly because there's no high-speed rail from Baton Rouge. I often pray for New Orleans as I fly to the North. Once I get to the pews in Hornebeck Parish, the parishoners usually pray for God to deliver his wrath to New Orleans, so I bow my head in quiet reflection on the price of shrimp....
But don't get those folks started on the festivities in New Orleans this weekend. Up in Coushatta, I could raise $45,000 to pay for my helicopter rides just by showing them this flier and passing the collection plate. Besmirching the good name of Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence in-deed.
But I kid the deviant kids. As my evangelical friends have taught me, God will give them the chance not to burn in hell. More importantly, New Orleans is overcoming all its problems. Katrina was the old way things were done. In Bobby Jindal's Louisiana, New Orleans has massive flood-control pumps. We're still working out the kinks, but if water gets in, we'll pump it back out!
That's what the D.C. bureaucrats will never understand. All it takes for a new levy system is a little elbow grease and some old-fashioned American can-do spirit! That's what my Father would have done, provided the job he got offered after calling random names in the YellowPages was levy-repairman.
Like the head of my Office of Coastal Activities Garret Graves said, "As you get away from Louisiana to D.C., it is very clear you don't have the same level of urgency and the same understanding of the challenges being faced down here."
We don't need any stimulus money, or any of that Washington D.C. waste. And let's not forget, according to one of your very own Hollywood liberals, the lack of reconstruction is Obama's fault. And that guy knows from hard-working American entrepreneur Abu! (Off-stage whispers...) I'm sorry, Apu! What do you expect from Kendell? (More off-stage whispers)... I'm sorry I don't even know what a Furry Rock is.
In summation, what I've seen soaring high above parishes miles from New Orleans is Louisianans coming together to rebuild this great state. Or, at least coming together in their corner of the state to pray with those who know exactly What Jesus Will Do if the levees don't hold. Why, he'll turn the water into wine and those Big Easy heathens can keep on partying until the true apocalypse rains fire down on their filthy heads! (Uncontrollable laughter).... Water, please....Aahhh...
(Clears throat) All I can say is what I believe in my heart. Whenever I go up in one of God's whirlybirds, I'm proud knowing that off in the distance, somebody is doing something to help us overcome New Orleans.
The helicopter trips are all part of God's plan. With him all things are possible, even the White House.
Thanks for your time, I'm President (loud off-stage cough) ... Sorry, Judeo-Christian slip.
I'm Gov-er-nor Bobby Jindal. Have a good night.