Kathryn Lopez

How is any of that even remotely anti-Protestant? It's not, of course. But the temptation to string a few lies together to play on long-simmering hostilities and bigotries is apparently too tempting for Louisiana Democrats to resist. Louisiana, just two years after Katrina, has much more important things to worry about than articles a gubernatorial candidate wrote more than a decade ago. But priorities and appropriateness seem not to be the concerns of the Democratic Party in Louisiana.

Politically, though, is the party's strategy smart? Can it work? If Romney becomes the Republican nominee for president, would hitting Mormonism be a smart strategy for Hillary Clinton (who, unless Al Gore enters at the last minute, will be the nominee)?

Philip Jenkins, author of The New Anti-Catholicism, worries it might be. He predicts: "I hate to say it but ... in Louisiana, that large territory located just south of the United States, these ads could be much more effective than someone living elsewhere might suspect. ... What prevents appropriate anger about the Jindal ads is that most Americans don't realize how uniquely bitter religious relations still are in Louisiana, and why such rhetoric is so poisonous."

And as for the presidential race, Jenkins -- who is no ideological ally of Romney -- worries: "Mormons are still fair game, usually because most Americans, even those of benevolent disposition, don't have real, breathing Mormon neighbors against whom they can test the charges. Historically, what defused anti-Semitism was the sense of 'But that can't be true. Just think of the Cohens down the road.'"

Jenkins says, ominously, that watching "the outright denunciations of Mormonism" he's seen aimed at Romney, "takes us right back to the halcyon days of 1840s anti-Catholicism."

Calling Baton Rouge to put an end to the intolerance. Let us pray, anyway.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.