separation of church and state

Many ministers do their best to stay away from politics when they preach, but hundreds of conservative pastors around the country are so upset about what they see as a moral crisis in government that they are preparing to run for public office themselves, with the goal of bringing "biblical values" to the political arena.

The initiative is led by David Lane, a born-again Christian and self-described "political operative" who has organized four large-scale training sessions in which evangelical pastors are tutored in the practical aspects of running a political campaign.

Whether it’s a Catholic priest, a Baptist minister, or one of the House members, each day of a legislative session, the House convenes with a Christian prayer. I asked House Clerk Albert “Butch” Speer when was the last time a prayer was something other than Christian?

“I don’t remember any time,” said the man who has served as House Clerk for 32 years.

Much of the reason is that invocations are done on a volunteer basis; members themselves or their pastors.

“The vast majority of the members of the House profess Christianity as their major religious belief, and so that’s what we’re going to end up with--because it’s purely voluntary,” Speer said.

There’s a battle going on in New Orleans-East and at the Louisiana Bond Commission, over acquisition of a 442-unit apartment complex known as Hidden Lakes. GMF -- Global Ministries Foundation, based in Memphis, Tennessee --is the buyer.

“We have almost 11-thousand units in eight states, as a faith-based housing development corporation,” GMF president Rev. Richard Hamlet told Louisiana’s Bond Commission last month.

Among those units are nearly 2500 apartments in Louisiana; in Lafayette, Lake Charles, and the greater New Orleans area. GMF is asking the bond commission to guarantee $24.5 million dollars so they can buy, renovate and run Hidden Lakes.  Area homeowner associations have been fighting it, because it’s Section 8 housing. State Sen. Edwin Murray has been facilitating meetings between homeowners’ associations and GMF property management, in an effort to resolve the impasse.


“Christians are now facing discrimination,” Governor Bobby Jindal said during a campaign stop in Iowa last weekend. “Why don’t we save some money and get rid of the Supreme Court?”

Some might view Jindal’s statements merely as presidential campaign rhetoric, but conversations with his inner circle indicate that remarks like, “Christianity is under assault today in America,” are coming from his sincerely-held religious beliefs.

One of Jindal’s closest spiritual advisors is Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills. He is an advocate of “dominionism”, sometimes referred to as the “seven mountains theory”.

Sue Lincoln / WRKF

“Every religious expression in America today is under assault.”

So said Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills when testifying on behalf of the “Marriage and Conscience Act” during the recent legislative session. One of the most influential lobbyists in Louisiana, Mills and LFF were the driving force behind the Louisiana Science Education Act in 2008, school vouchers in 2012, and every abortion restriction enacted by this state over the past decade.

Mills is proud of this activism, as he stated in the Louisiana Family Forum’s 2014 legislative wrap-up video.