Expensive Church Trips

September 04, 2009

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is being criticized for taking expensive trips to churches and charging the taxpayers. Jindal's trips to various churches far from the governor's mansion cost the taxpayers about $45,000 over a recent five month time period. He has been making such trips longer than that, as I noted in an Ethics Daily article last year. The Catholic governor up for reelection in two years takes the trips to evangelical Protestant churches in politically strategic parts of the state, and sometimes speaks during the services. He also made such trips during his successful 2007 campaign for governor. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist pastor in Louisiana and president of the Interfaith Alliance, is criticizing Jindal for charging taxpayers for the trips. Gaddy argues that state money should not be used for such trips, especially when Jindal is sharing his testimony because that would mean state money is being used to promote a specific religion. But the best argument Gaddy makes is that if Jindal is making these trips for political purposes, then state money should not be used and Jindal should stop making these trips altogether. He wrote to Jindal:

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.
Amen! We should not make church services partisan campaign events.