Louisiana politics were always ugly. They just got uglier.

A Democratic Party ad is accusing Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal (who is Catholic) of calling Protestants “scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical.”

Of course, this is not what Jindal, who wrote about his faith in the New Oxford Review many times, meant. Jindal’s essay, however, says nothing of the sort. He hardly calls Protestants “intellectually dishonest.” What he actually says is that it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore the teachings of the Catholic Church when studying Christianity.

Jindal wrote:

Sincerely motivated Christians studying the same texts have disagreed on the fundamentals of the faith, thereby dividing not only Protestants from Catholics, but also particular Protestant denominations from each other. Post-Reformation history does not reflect the unity and harmony of the “one flock” instituted by Christ (Jn. 10:16; see also Jn. 17:11, 17:21-23; Acts 4:32; Eph. 4:3-6, 4:13; Rom. 12:5, 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 1:10-11, 3:4, 12:12-13; Phil. 1:27, 2:2), but rather a scandalous series of divisions and new denominations, including some that can hardly be called Christian. Yet Christ would not have demanded unity without providing the necessary leadership to maintain it. The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their “utterly depraved” minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin. The choice is between Catholicism’s authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy.

Hardly the stuff of anti-protestantism. But in that one paragraph you have “utterly depraved,” “scandalous,” and “heresy” all used in an intelligent and thoughtful manner but his political opponents are wrestling them out of context into a smear campaign.

Political watchers know the ads don’t accurately reflect Jindal’s writings on Catholicism. But this is a way to remind people that Jindal is a Papist who really believes. It’s a “he’s not one of us” campaign.

Democrats say the 30-second TV spot _ running in heavily Protestant central and north Louisiana _ simply explains Jindal’s beliefs with his own words, using portions of Jindal’s religious writings through the 1990s, before he was an elected official. A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said the ad is slated to run for about a week.

The top two Democratic candidates in the governor’s race said they weren’t connected to the anti-Jindal ad, but they also didn’t complain about the ad.

Boasso, D-Arabi, said if the quotes were true, Jindal should retract them.

Campbell, D-Elm Grove, said Jindal needed to “quit squealing” about attack ads.

Expect religions to be dragged through the mud in this election cycle. Fred Thompson has already been called a “non-Christian.” Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is seemingly under constant attack. Rudy Giuliani’s peek-a-boo now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Catholicism will be trotted out a few more times until he gets the nomination. And the Democrats will all say they’re God fearing and they’ll quote Bible perpetually when they’re down South and ignore it in New York, Boston and California. In short, expect this year’s election to be the ugliest of all.