Jindal Warns of 'Silent War' on Religion in Reagan Library Speech

Image: Jindal Warns of 'Silent War' on Religion in Reagan Library Speech

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 08:29 PM

By Greg Richter

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted the "silent war" that he said is undermining the nation's basic principles in a major speech Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Contrary to what liberals say, the Constitution was set up specifically for believers, Jindal, a Catholic who converted from Hinduism, said.

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"The American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war," said Jindal, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016.

"It's a war against the propositions in the Declaration of Independence: It is a war against the spirit that motivated abolitionism: It is a war against the faith that motivated the Civil Rights struggle: It is a war against the soul of countless acts of charity: It is a war against the conscience that drives social change: It is a war against the heart that binds our neighborhoods together: It is a war against America's best self, at America's best moment.

"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, 42, is expected to be among a group of Republicans seeking the presidential nomination in 2016, and many see his speech at the library in Simi Valley, Calif., as part of the groundwork for such a run.

He follows other likely GOP contenders Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Jindal released the text of his speech before delivery. He said there was no better place than the Reagan Library to make his point because Reagan had said "Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few, but the universal right of all God's children."

"When he said this, he was not expressing a strictly personal belief in the nature of man as a created being, as a child of God" said Jindal. "He was reaffirming the most basic contention of the American founding, set forth in the Declaration of Independence, that we are a nation constituted in accordance with the 'Laws of Nature and of Nature's God,' and that we are a people 'endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.'"

Jindal reminded his audience that as far back as 1798, President John Adams had written to Massachusetts militiamen telling them, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

But he claimed that the "secular elites" understood that to take over America they must make war on its philosophy.

"This silent war is the real undercurrent driving politically fractious debates in a number of areas of policy," he said. "But why is this war happening? What does it mean for the country and people of faith? Why does it represent such a fundamental challenge to our American identity and the exceptional history that makes our nation great?"

In answering his own questions, Jindal pointed to the court battle over craft store Hobby Lobby's contention it should not have to provide the morning-after pill. The Green family that owns the stores believes the pill causes an abortion, and they object to its use on religious grounds.

He said Hobby Lobby's statement of purpose begins with a Bible verse, and that all of the stores close on Sundays. The company pays well above minimum wage and has increased salaries four years in a row. The family that runs it is committed to giving the majority of its wealth to philanthropy.

"None of this matters to the Obama administration," he blasted. "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."

He pointed out the absurdity that Hobby Lobby — which has an offshoot company that sells Bibles — is considered a secular company, but Tyndal House, which prints Bibles, is not.

"Perhaps we should all start printing Bibles, so we can claim protection," he said.

And he said he defended "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson and his family over Robertson's controversial statements on homosexuality, not because Jindal is the governor of the state where the Robertsons live, but because "they have every right to speak their minds, however indelicately they may choose to do so."

Jindal also raised the Hosanna-Tabor case in which the Obama administration argued that a Lutheran academy did not have the right to fire someone over a difference in beliefs. The Supreme Court unanimously threw out the government's argument.

"So for the time being at least, the government doesn't get to decide who can preach the gospel. But the important thing to note is that the government wanted to make that decision — that is truly offensive and frightening."

He also brought up cases where bakers, photographers and others in the wedding industry have been told they must cater to same-sex unions.

"This assault will only spread in the immediate future," Jindal said, foreseeing a time when believers who refuse to be cowed will be penalized for their views, denied membership in professional groups or even rejected from licenses.

"This is the next stage of the assault," he said. "And it is only beginning.

Jindal was speaking the day after a legal challenge was filed to get Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage overturned.

"Today, an overwhelming majority of those who belong to a religious denomination in America — that's more than half the country — are members of organizations that affirm the traditional definition of marriage," he said. "All of those denominations will be targeted in large and small degrees in the coming years," he predicted.

Jindal ended his speech by referring to President Obama's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, in which he said that history shows "that nations that uphold the rights of their people — including the freedom of religion — are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful."

"Well said, Mr. President. I couldn't agree more," said Jindal. "The president is very concerned about religious liberty.

"And also... if you like your religion, you can keep your religion."

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