— Gov. Bobby Jindal is defending his participation in a prayer rally on Louisiana State University's campus next month that has drawn the ire of student protesters who say the group hosting the event promotes discrimination and an anti-gay agenda.

The Jan. 24 prayer rally is expected to draw thousands of people to LSU's campus.

The event, called The Response, has drawn heavy criticism because of the views of its sponsor organization, the Mississippi-based American Family Association. The organization has linked same-sex marriage and abortion to disasters such as tornadoes and Hurricane Katrina.

Jindal, a Roman Catholic, sidestepped a question Wednesday about the organization's controversial comments and maintained his enthusiastic support for the event. The Republican governor is considered a possible presidential contender in 2016.