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“Gird Thy Loins, War Is Nigh”: Bobby Jindal Tries To Become A General In The Eternal War On American Christians

Tonight at the Ronald Reagan presidential library—America’s greatest library—Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal will deliver a speech that will be seen (probably correctly) as an early component of the Jindal for President ’16 campaign. Its subject is an old favorite, the religious war currently being waged in America. It’s partly Barack Obama’s war on Christianity, but since Obama will be leaving office in a few years, it’s important to construe the war as something larger and more eternal. The point, as it is with so many symbolic wars, isn’t the victory but the fight.

Here’s how Politico describes the speech, which they got an early copy of:

“The American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war,” Jindal will say at the Simi Valley, Calif., event. “It threatens the fabric of our communities, the health of our public square and the endurance of our constitutional governance.”

“This war is waged in our courts and in the halls of political power,” he adds, according to the prepared remarks. “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.”

The speech sounds like pretty standard stuff; Jindal reiterates his support for Duck Dynasty homophobe/Jim Crow nostalgist Phil Robertson, saying, “The modern left in America is completely intolerant of the views of people of faith. They want a completely secular society where people of faith keep their views to themselves.” Which is not actually true; what Jindal (and some others) seem to want is a society where conservatives can say ignorant, bigoted things and no one is allowed to criticize them for it. But what interests me is the religious war stuff.

“Our religious freedom was won over the course of centuries of persecution and blood,” Jindal says, “and we should not surrender them without a fight.” Maybe he explains in the actual speech about the centuries of persecution and blood—is he talking about here in America? Because I don’t really remember all the Christians being tossed in jail or rounded up for massacres during the colonial period, culminating in the First Amendment, but maybe I missed something. In any case, this is a little more complex than simply appealing to social conservative voters, though it certainly is that.

Jindal is rather shrewdly attempting to tap into something that’s universal, but particularly strong among contemporary conservatives: the urge to rise above the mundane and join a transformative crusade. It’s one thing to debate the limits of religious prerogatives when it comes to the actions of private corporations, or to try to find ways to celebrate religious holidays that the entire community will find reasonable. That stuff gets into disheartening nuance, and requires considering the experiences and feelings of people who don’t share your beliefs, which is a total drag. But a war? War is exciting, war is dramatic, war is consequential, war is life or death. War is where heroes rise to smite the unrighteous. So who do you want to get behind, the guy who says “We can do better,” or the guy who thunders, “Follow me to battle, to history, to glory!”

Not that candidates haven’t tried to ride the “war on Christianity” thing before, with only limited success. But Fox News does crank up the calliope of Christian resentment every December, and there’s enough of a market there to keep it going. Can Bobby Jindal—slight of build, goofy of mien, dull of voice—be the Henry V of the 2016 version of this unending war? Let’s just say I’m a wee bit skeptical.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, February 14, 2014

February 15, 2014 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Religion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The “War on Religion”: GOP Still Placating The Hard Core Base

Is anyone who doesn’t already hate Obama for the usual right-wing reasons really going to believe the new Romney ad, that Obama’s health-care law wages a “war on religion”? I doubt many people will. It’s just right-wing fever-swamp rhetoric that I think your average person will, in his or her bones, recognize as such, because we’ve now reached the point in history where we’ve heard a lot of this, and it no longer shocks or traduces the way it once did.

Romney is still placating the hard-core GOP base. It’s getting a little late for that, isn’t? August isn’t really the time to be trying to nail down the scary-lazy-black-people and the Democrats-hate-God voting blocs. August is when you start making your pitch to swing voters.

This is starting, just starting, to remind me of the Rick Lazio 2000 Senate campaign against Hillary, when he, under the brilliant hand of Mike Murphy, made a crucial mistake conservatives are naturally prone to make. He confused “regular New Yorkers” with “right-wing Hillary haters” and thought they were functionally the same thing. Thus he couldn’t for the life of him understand why middle-of-the-road New Yorkers weren’t impressed and persuaded when he and the state GOP accused the First Lady of the United States of sympathizing with the terrorists who blew up the USS Cole. The Romney camp is edging into the same territory.

If Romney wants to talk about wars on religion, I really hope he names Paul Ryan as his veep. The Catholic Bishops called the Ryan budget “immoral.” Unfortunately, the Democrats probably wouldn’t even point this out, wouldn’t want to lean on the bishops. And this raises a problem with today’s Democratic Party.

I’d love to see the party become less skittish about using religion to defend and support its policies. Many elected Democrats, indeed most, are religious people. Obviously, their religious beliefs inform their political views, and vice versa. They ought to be more comfortable talking about it.

Why should Republicans be the only ones to invoke Jesus, and only for conservative reasons and ends? I think it would be delicious if Democrats started quoting more Scripture in behalf of liberalism. After all, a lot of Scripture is liberalism. I’m not religious myself, but I think it’s a shame that liberalism is so guardedly secular.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, August 9, 2012

August 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Religion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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