Any Republican with an eye on the White House knows he or she can’t ignore the nation’s Christian Conservatives, especially when many of the early GOP primaries are in states where powerhouse pastors lead large congregations.
For Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the challenge to woo this important voting bloc has an extra fascinating dynamic – one the Rhodes Scholar and Ivy League graduate has taken head on.
Jindal, a self-proclaimed "evangelical Catholic" who converted from Hinduism as a teenager, is "harnessing his religious experience in a way that has begun to appeal to parts of the GOP’s influential core of religious conservatives," reports The Washington Post.
And he’s seized on recent high-profile pop culture clashes in a keynote speech
he delivered at the Liberty University commencement ceremony in Lynchburg, Va., on May 10.
"Today the American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war. ... It is a war — a silent war — against religious liberty," said Jindal.
"The new left in America is completely intolerant of people of faith," Jindal said. "They simply want to silence us."
He cited HGTV’s recent cancellation
of the real estate show starring the Benham brothers — twins David and Jason — who said they were fired when their past preaching against homosexuality was highlighted on the Internet.
Jindal also noted the furor over the A&Es suspension of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson
after he told GQ that gays are sinners.
"They have the right to speak their minds, no matter how indelicately they choose to do so," Jindal said Saturday. "The war of religious liberty is the war of free speech."
But it is his personal conversion story – both in his address Saturday and in private meetings – that is winning Jindal some converts.
"He has the convictions, and he has what it takes to communicate them," Brad Sherman of Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville, Iowa, told The Washington Post after Jindal held a private session with religious leaders. Sherman worked with Mike Huckabee in 2008 to secure his Iowa win.
Jindal told the story of getting a Bible from a friend at Christmas and talking with other friends about their faith in Christ.
He said he was afraid what his parents, practicing Hindus, would think, so at home he read the Bible in a closet, the Post reported.
"I read the words of Jesus Christ, and I realized that they were true," Jindal said. "I used to think that I had found God, but I believe it is more accurate to say that he found me."
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