"The American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will say in a speech from California's Simi Valley on Thursday night. It's like Braveheart, really, Jindal's willingness to rouse the masses to his cause, except if William Wallace were on the side of the much-more-powerful British who were mostly upset about gay people.
Politico got a draft of the speech, which Jindal will present at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Thursday night. (It is almost as though Jindal wants to run for president some day and therefore hopes to align himself strongly with religious conservatives and with the legacy of President Reagan.)
What is this war? Well:
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.
The example of Jindal's lofty "grim and relentless determination" that Politico then cites is more mundane: The lawsuit filed by Hobby Lobby against the government for the mandate that employers cover birth control for their employees. For Jindal, who converted to Catholicism, the war is about more than that sole example. He clearly believes that the Catholic Church — and by extension all religion — is under threat from the secular insistence that people who aren't religious and who aren't straight be treated as equals.
During the (really very silly) brouhaha over Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty late last year, Jindal weighed in on behalf of the Louisiana reality TV star. A&E's (very brief) suspension of Robertson was proof that it didn't "believe in the First Amendment."
"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," Jindal will ask tonight, "and when expressing those views will be seen as hiding hateful speech behind religious protections?" That's precisely how Robertson was viewed by more liberal opponents, in his Duck Dynasty intervention — as defending the hateful speech of Robertson under the guise of religious expression. (What Robertson said, in part: "It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man's anus.")
The dichotomy Jindal presents is real. Some religious people who don't like homosexuality don't want to have to accept homosexuals as equals. Earlier today, we reported on a law passed by the Kansas state legislature that would allow businesses to discriminate against gay people on religious grounds. For religious people who take exception to homosexuality, that's seen as a real need, and it's the sort of thing that Jindal praises at other parts of his speech.
But the net effect is precisely that discriminatory behavior and hateful beliefs are shielded under the guise of equality. The Kansas legislator who introduced the state's bill declared that it was a protection against discrimination, that "There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that."
There are intricacies to the Hobby Lobby birth control case that don't exist in efforts to, say, keep gays from even shopping at a store. But Jindal will defend the latter behavior, too, according to Politico: "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 one of those occasions in which replacing "same-sex" with "interracial" and "gay" with "black" is revelatory. If Southern racists in, say, Louisiana, had pointed to Biblical passages in defense of segregation, where would Jindal have come down on the issue? Was the elimination of Jim Crow also a "silent war"?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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