Thousands expected at prayer rally
BATON ROUGE - Thousands are expected to attend a Saturday prayer rally at LSU where Governor Bobby Jindal will be the headlining speaker.
Some say "The Response" rally is a political stunt for Jindal to announce a run at the Oval Office, but event organizers say there's nothing controversial about prayer.
"We have economic issue that people are facing," said event organizer Gene Mills with the Louisiana Family Forum. "Right now we're experiencing that in the oil and gas industry. We have family issues and family breakdown. We have issues with regard to jobs and security, terrorist activities, manmade and natural disasters."
Governor Jindal will be a central figure at the rally. Some political analysts say the event is designed to jump-start Jindal's bid for the presidency, but organizers claim the event is not political.
"I think he's doing this as a fellow believer and a brother in the Lord, and I think that's encourageble and commendable. And he's inviting others to come and participate. And anyone who doubts that, I dare them to come and see what this event looks like from the inside," said Mills.
Protests will be held outside the rally. Many are upset with what they say are extremist views held by some of the events sponsors.
"I don't know what's controversial about prayer, but they will come and they will hear some wonderful music, praise worship music. And different people will come up and pray, these will not be long prayers," said event organizer Tommy Middleton, executive director of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge.
Protesters say they're fine with the prayer, but they're angry that one of the organizations associated with the rally is the American Family Association. The Mississippi-based group claims to be one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with hundreds of thousands of supporters. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers the AFA a hate group for their anti-LGBTQ stance and claims.
Organizers say the issues some have with the AFA is a matter of opinion. "Our desire is not as an advocate for a particular organization, once again our focus is on prayer," said Middleton.
In conjunction with the prayer rally, there will be an anti-abortion demonstration called the Louisiana Life March South. Organizers say the march will be held in remembrance of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. Governor Jindal will also be the keynote speaker at the march.
Activities associated with the march will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the opening of the Life Ministry Mobilization area at the LSU Greek Theatre, located on Dalrymple Drive next to the College of Music and Dramatic Arts. The march itself will begin at 11 a.m., concluding at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at 11:30 a.m. At that point participants will march into the Maravich Center, and Life March South will merge with The Response event.