By Robert Mann
I wonder if Gov. Bobby Jindal would defend the religious freedom of one of his aides to attack him as a self-righteous hypocrite who falsely claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ? I wonder if Jindal would continue to employ someone who announced that Jindal’s disdain for the working poor of his state — denying them health insurance for partisan political reasons — runs contrary to Jesus’ overwhelming concern for the poor?
My guess is that, given Jindal’s well-known intolerance for dissent in his ranks, such a person would be unemployed by sundown. In fact, it would be easier to push a camel through the eye of a needle than to imagine Jindal retaining the services of someone who, based on her understanding of the Bible, attacked him as a phony and fraud.
Jindal, of course, wants you to know that he believes anyone should be able to say or do anything without consequence, so long as that person claims a Biblical mandate. In his speech Saturday to Liberty University’s spring commencement, Jindal talked of a “war on religious liberty.” According to excerpts released by the governor’s office, Jindal said:
This war on religious liberty – on your freedom to exercise your religion, on your freedom to associate, on your freedom of expression – is only going to continue. It is going to continue because of an idea, a wrongheaded concept: that religious freedom means you have the freedom to worship, and that’s all. In this misbegotten and un-American conception of religious liberty, your rights begin and end in the pew. This is ridiculous. We have the right to practice our faith and protect our conscience no matter where we happen to be. . . . Make no mistake: the war over religious liberty is the war over free speech, and without the first there is no such thing as the second.
Jindal hopes you believe that his main concern is religious freedom and the ability of people of faith to say whatever they wish in the public square without consequence.
Never mind that this philosophy runs headlong into rights of business owners, in a free market, to employee individuals who do not harm their business by sullying their reputations with bigoted actions or offensive public statements. Never mind that the First Amendment prohibits government, not private businesses, from punishing people for their speech. Never mind that Baton Rouge is littered with former employees of Jindal who were fired for the singular act of speaking their mind about his policies.
Jindal’s own actions prove that his professed commitment to free speech is highly suspect, at best.
So, what’s really at play here, beyond Jindal’s pathological need to pander to the religious right in preparation for his 2016 presidential campaign?
You see, when Bobby Jindal talks about religious freedom, what he really means is the right of people to discriminate against gays and lesbians under the guise of religion.
Jindal says liberals disdain free speech by people of faith. As a person of faith, I have no problem with other people of faith expressing their views on what they believe the Bible says about homosexuality or other private behavior. What many people of faith and others find abhorrent and un-American self-righteous politician-preachers, like Jindal, who want to write their narrow religious beliefs about private behavior into law.
For Jindal to suggest that objecting to writing his interpretation of the Bible onto the nation’s law books is a violation of religious liberty suggests that he is either a very ignorant man or a very cynical one.
I’m betting it’s the latter.
Why is it that every time I hear Jindal speak about faith and politics, I’m reminded of that saying attributed to Gandhi: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”