Bobby Jindal speech on religious liberty
I heard the full audio of this, and I thought it was great.
By JAMES HOHMANN | 2/13/14 3:48 PM EST Updated: 2/13/14 5:00 PM EST
In a Thursday night speech at Ronald Reagan’s presidential library, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will warn of a “silent war” on religious liberty in America and urge states to pass laws designed to block overreach by the Obama administration.
The 4,500-word address, shared first with POLITICO, touches on several hot-button issues, including same-sex marriage and contraception. Jindal, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate trying to woo social conservatives, argues that liberals will use the mantra of anti-discrimination to force people to violate their religious beliefs.
“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 42-year-old governor calls the upcoming Supreme Court decision on whether government can force Hobby Lobby craft stores to cover contraception through their health insurance plans just one of the battles being fought over religious liberty.
Citing a piece of failed legislation in Illinois, Jindal suggests that liberals will eventually try to pass laws designed to pressure churches to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies against their will. He also will blast the New Mexico Supreme Court for ruling last August that a wedding photography business violated the state’s Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.
“This is the next stage of the assault, and it is only beginning,” Jindal plans to say.
“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. All of those denominations will be targeted in large and small degrees in the coming years.”
Jindal, a son of Indian immigrants and a convert to Catholicism, notes that religious persecution led the first pilgrims to cross the Atlantic Ocean. He speaks poignantly about the role religious groups have played in the push to abolish slavery and promote civil rights.
“America does not sustain and create faith. Faith created and sustains America,” he is expected to say.
Jindal, whose second term as governor ends in January 2016, is positioning himself to carry the mantle for social conservatives if he goes forward with a run for the White House. He was the first prominent politician to decry A&E for suspending “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson over comments he made about homosexuality. The network backtracked under pressure from viewers.
“I defended them because they have every right to speak their minds, however indelicately they may choose to do so,” Jindal says of the Robertson family in his Thursday speech. “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.”
On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case.
The religious family that owns the crafts store chain was told it would be fined $1.3 million a day if it did not cover morning-after pills for its employees under the Affordable Care Act. The federal government argues that Hobby Lobby is a for-profit business and thus not protected under the First Amendment’s “free exercise” of religion clause. But the family considers birth control objectionable on religious grounds.
“The Obama administration’s argument ignores these beliefs and treats them as little more than an inconvenience to its ever-expanding regulatory state,” he will say.
Jindal accuses the Obama administration of misinterpreting the First Amendment and believing that religious freedom means only the freedom to worship.
“Under the Obama regime, the president and his allies are intentional in pursuing these conflicts from the perspective that you must sacrifice your most sacred beliefs to government the instant you start a business,” he will say.
He notes that all nine Supreme Court justices agreed in the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor decision that federal employment laws do not apply to how religious organizations select their leaders. But he worries about a flood of anti-discrimination lawsuits at the state level, like the one in New Mexico.
“Will churches in America even be able to remain part of the public square in a time when their views on sin are in direct conflict with the culture and when expressing those views will be seen as hiding hateful speech behind religious protections?” Jindal will ask.
Jindal is the latest potential presidential candidate to make the pilgrimage to Simi Valley, Calif., following Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Each has offered a vision for where he aspires to lead the party of Reagan.
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels famously called for a “truce” on social issues when he was considering a 2012 run, and some Washington Republicans think Jindal’s talk will only embolden Democrats to run their “war on women” playbook.
Jindal, however, argues that now’s the time for social conservatives to take a stand.
“In practical terms, a truce would only amount to those who value religious liberty laying down their arms,” Jindal says in the speech. “Our religious freedom was won over the course of centuries of persecution and blood, and we should not surrender them without a fight.”
Jindal notes that pharmacists are already protected from needing to fill prescriptions for birth control if they object on religious grounds. He wants to extend this principle to other professions.
He praises states such as Kansas and Kentucky for enacting religious liberty protections, which adopt strict standards in the state constitutions, either by amendment or judicial decision. The Kentucky law, which passed over the Democratic governor’s veto, requires proof of a compelling government interest before any state or local law can force citizens to act in opposition to their religious beliefs.
“These laws are a good start, but we need more of them,” Jindal will say. “We must enshrine in our state laws strong legal protections for churches, religious organizations and individual believers. No church or church affiliated organization or individuals whose business is run in a manner consistent with their faith practices should be required by the state to take steps in conflict with their religion. Nor should they be legally punished for how they treat marital arrangements outside the teachings of their faith.”
A key theme of the speech is that religious pluralism must be protected on principle, regardless of someone’s view on abortion or gay marriage.
“It is unmistakable that most of the Obama administration’s attacks on religious liberty are aimed at conservative Christians,” Jindal is to say, “but the fact is that our religious liberties are designed to protect people of all faiths.”