Bobby Jindal: How a one-time GOP star became another scheming religious charlatan

By Robert Mann

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who declared his candidacy for president last Wednesday, is passionate about what he calls “religious freedom.” In speech after speech over recent years, the Indian-American governor – a convert from Hinduism to Catholicism in his teens – warns Christian evangelical audiences that liberals are hell-bent on squelching religious speech.

On Friday, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling affirming same-sex marriage rights, Jindal reacted with predictable outrage. He cast the ruling as an assault on Christian values.

“This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision,” Jindal said in his statement. “This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.

“The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies,” Jindal added, previewing a struggle over whether businesses may deny services to same-sex couples. “That would be a clear violation of America’s long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.”

Long before he declared his candidacy, some political observers pegged Jindal as the presidential hopeful most likely to rely on his policy chops to win support for a White House bid (he ran the University of Louisiana System, served as the state’s secretary of Health and Hospitals and was an assistant secretary of George W. Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services).

Instead, the former Rhodes scholar has emerged as the candidate most eager to cash in on his religious faith.

Jindal routinely speaks at churches and religious gatherings in early primary and caucus states. He delivered the spring 2014 commencement speech at Virginia’s Liberty University, asking the graduates, “What happens when our government decides it no longer needs a ‘moral and religious people?’”

This is how Jindal answered his question: “It is a war – a silent war — against religious liberty. This war is waged in our courts and in the halls of political power. It is pursued with grim and relentless determination by a group of like-minded elites, determined to transform the country from a land sustained by faith — into a land where faith is silenced, privatized, and circumscribed.”

Jindal clearly wants to be seen as religion’s field general in this imaginary war. Last January, Jindal presided over a controversial prayer rally, ”The Response,” on the campus of Louisiana State University. The American Family Association, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group,” helped sponsor the event. Moments before he announced for president at a convention center in Kenner, Louisiana (just outside New Orleans), Jindal invited photographers to snap pictures of him in a prayer circle of evangelical pastors.

In December 2013, when Phil Robertson, of A&E’s once-popular reality show “Duck Dynasty,” was caught making homophobic remarks in a GQ article, Jindal rushed to Robertson’s defense. He claimed that the network’s brief suspension of the show and the criticism of Robertson’s odious remarks were a violation of the reality star’s free speech rights. ”I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment,” Jindal said in defense of Robertson, now an icon of the religious right. “It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”

In March, after the governors of Indiana and Arkansas withdrew their support of legislation that permitted businesses to refuse services to same-sex couples, Jindal stepped boldly into the fray of religious intolerance. In his speech opening the 2015 Louisiana Legislature in April, Jindal pushed a bill similar to those proposed in Arkansas and Indiana, counting it among his top priorities.

“There used to be bipartisan support for the principle of religious liberty,” Jindal told lawmakers. “However, these days, some think diversity of belief is too risky and scary to be tolerated. But that’s wrong … In the United States, a state should not be able to take adverse action against an individual for holding a sincerely held religious view regarding marriage. That would be true discrimination.”

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14 Responses to Bobby Jindal: How a one-time GOP star became another scheming religious charlatan

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    I have a little satiric joke about this. It started out as my assertion Bobby Jindal’s real goal was replacement of Pat Robertson on The 700 Club. It evolved to my current assertion his goal is the creation of his very own 700,000 PAP Club [PAP standing for “Praise and Prolixity] and I give my reasons. My little joke has a more than a whiff of reality as Bob so eloquently demonstrates.

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  2. Freedom of Expression is fine if you’re part of “Duck Dynasty” but not if you’re Miley Cyrus –I’ve heard pundits laud him (Jindal) for his “tremendous intelligence” –he may have read “Animal Farm” –but not intelligent enough to read between ‘the obvious lines’: “All animals are created equal –but some animals are more equal than others”. Now, in the National Spotlight, he’ll really have Louisiana looking like it has a huge brain trust…

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  3. OneStateWorker says:

    jindal doesn’t talk too much about his faith, but he talks way too much about what he alleges is is my faith and your faith. And of course he is dead wrong, because telling the truth wouldn’t help him get the nomination in the conservative alternate reality.

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  4. Fredster says:

    “This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision,”

    No Piyush, it won’t. I do not believe that most gay couples actually care a whit about “religious freedom rights” in this regard. I believe they merely want to legalize their relationships and to be able to share the benefits that straight couples have like owning property together, have health insurance together, be able to pay taxes as a couple and to not be shut out of medical decisions involving their partner. They aren’t asking to be married in St. Louis or St. Patrick Cathedrals. They are merely wanting to legalize their relationships with their life partners, just as interracial couples wanted to do but couldn’t before the Loving v Virginia decision,

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    • Bob in BR says:

      You hit the nail squarely on the head Fredster with your comments above and thanks for putting them on the table. I total agree that Swindal is shooting for a Faux News job as any other candidate has to consider him too toxic to offer a government post of any type. He’s screwed up everyone he’s had so far. Thanks a lot Mike Foster.

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      • Fredster says:

        Thanks Bob. My comment came out a bit more harsh than I intended. What I was trying to say was that I don’t see how this decision is going to impact anyone’s personal, religious views.

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  5. He’s just stirring up the 25-33% of the “masses” he thinks will carry him into the White House. If it doesn’t (and he knows it won’t) than all the other above-mentioned options (pick one) come into play. He’ll be out of a government job of the big government that he hates so much and will need “other” employment to support his family or go back to McKinsey (only other non-government job he’s had).

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  6. earthmother says:

    (have not been able to join the comment board on Salon.)

    The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
    The measure of a civilization is how it treats its most vulnerable members.
    Mahatma Gandhi

    If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values. Because you don’t.
    Comedian John Fugelsang (wrongly attributed to Jimmy Carter)

    36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
    Jesus Christ – Matthew 25:36-45

    I do not know jindal’s heart. But I DO know what his actions have been. And truly, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.

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  7. john d. Fitzmorris says:

    please everyone stop paying attention to this man. He has passed over the twilight zone and entered he outer limits

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