Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he is “hoping for a spiritual revival” at a national prayer rally in South Carolina Saturday, according to The Post and Courier.
“The United States of America did not create religious liberty,” Jindal said to a crowd of about four thousand who gathered in the North Charleston Coliseum. “Religious liberty created the United States of America.”
Jindal’s speech drew a standing ovation. Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, another lead-off speaker, spoke of her individual faith and the many times she has turned to prayer for guidance, pointing out the right of freedom to worship.
“We will never apologize for prayer in our state,” Haley said, followed by a loud applause.
In the weeks leading up to the rally, the American Civil Liberties Union raised questions to the participation of political leaders in such an event, claiming that the mix of church and state would violate the Constitution.
The civil liberties group often insists that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution requires censorship of public religious expression.
“Prayer is an act of worship, not an act of governance. The unfinished work of governing- improving our schools, repairing roads, reforming our criminal justice system- deserves the full attention of all our elected officials,” Middleton said.
A similar prayer service in Louisiana led by Jindal also saw objection from those who opposed his decision of the event’s funding by a Christian organization that protesters said promotes discrimination.
When asked if he came to announce his run for presidency at the rally, Jindal said he did not come for politics, but for prayer.
“This isn’t about politics,” Jindal said. “This isn’t about the nomination. This isn’t about party. This is about God. It’s about turning back to God, praying for our city, our state, our country. I’m hoping for a spiritual revival. I’m hoping this starts a spark where you’ll see other responses in other states,” Breitbart reported.
While both political leaders ran the service without any mention of politics or endorsements, attendees who drove from distant parts of the state said that politics was the last reason they came to the gathering.
Lor Cunningham of Greenville, S.C., said that she woke up at 4:30 am to attend the event, billed as “The Response.”
“This is really committed Christians who see that the country is in deep trouble,” she said. “Economically we’re in trouble, morally, spiritually, you name it.”
The creator of The Response, Tex. Pastor Doug Stringer, previously organized several similar rallies in both Texas and Louisiana with the purpose of bringing together everyone to “recognize we still need God’s presence in America.”
Haley’s press office said she agreed to attend because of the strong faith rooted at the center of her and her entire family. Haley, who was raised in a Sikh family but later converted to Christianity, gave accounts of families struggling to find work in America and troubled places, including Ferguson and Baltimore.
The sermons and prayers intertwined with Christian contemporary music, light shows and reflective addresses by people from a diverse mix of ages, ethnicities, races and languages.
Stacy Lattimore-Johnson, who came from Lincolnville, S.C., to join other people in the mass prayer service, spoke of the importance of prayer in critical times.
“Just a connection from the people who are here for prayer for our city and our nation,” she said. “Everyone was speaking about prayer and bringing everyone together.”