By Robert Mann
Considering the passion Gov. Bobby Jindal devoted to his big speech on religious liberty earlier this month at the Ronald Reagan Library, you’d think he would have been all over the airwaves this week.
Surely, if Jindal really believed what he said about a “silent war” on religious liberty, he should have publicly begged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to sign legislation, passed by her state’s legislature, to permit business owners to deny service to gays, lesbians and other people on religious grounds.
Brewer, of course, vetoed the legislation after it became a national embarrassment to the Republican Party and cast Arizona in a most-negative light. Even the NFL threatened to pull next year’s Super Bowl from the state. In the end, Brewer had no choice but bow to the will of her state’s business leaders and reject to this morally repugnant bill.
But, all the while, Jindal was silent.
He had, as best I can tell, absolutely nothing to say about an issue that, only days before, he was promoting with great passion and enthusiasm.
In his highly publicized speech, Jindal alerted the Reagan Library audience that “the freedom to exercise your religion in the way you run your business, large or small, is under assault.”
Using a case against Hobby Lobby as an example, Jindal said:
None of this matters to the Obama administration. The argument they have advanced, successfully thus far, is that a faithful business owner cannot operate under the assumption that they can use their moral principles to guide the way their place of business spends money. According to the administration’s legal arguments, the family that owns Hobby Lobby is not protected by the First Amendment’s “free exercise” of religion clause.
That’s the part of the First Amendment which states that “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
The Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder argue that because “Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion.” A federal judge agreed: since Hobby Lobby is a “secular” corporation, they have no right to be guided by the religious beliefs of their ownership.
Then, Jindal turned to the heart of the matter, the real reason for his speech and the scenario that he hoped would strike fear in the hearts of his conservative audience: business owners and others might be required by the government to provide services, in violation of their religious beliefs, to gays and other objectionable people.