Exclusive–Bobby Jindal on Religious Liberty: ‘Extreme Left’ Becoming More Secular, Radical; ‘We Need to Fight Back’

AP Photo/Joe Skipper
AP Photo/Joe Skipper

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a conservative Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate, said on Breitbart News Sunday this weekend for the Easter Sunday special show that Democrats and liberals are waging an open assault on Americans’ religious liberty rights.

“There is an assault on religious liberty in our country. It’s ironic that it happens to be occurring during Easter week of all weeks, one of the most holy times of the year for Christians including myself,” Jindal said. “Let’s step back and realize what’s really at stake here.”

You may remember I gave a speech at the Reagan library last year defining the assault on religious liberty, and making very, very clear that America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created America. What’s really at stake here if you cut through all the liberal media and all the distractions and what the left is trying to say, we need to really understand that the government should never step in to tell Christians they have to choose between making a living and their Christian values. That’s really what’s at stake here in Indiana, Arkansas and across the country. But the Founding Fathers knew firsthand about government choking religious liberty. This is not a new conflict. They knew what they were doing. This is not just some things that have changed recently. It’s why a fundamental part of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution codifies that the government is protecting—not creating—our God-given rights including religious liberty rights. Without those religious liberty rights, there’s no freedom of speech and no freedom of association as well.

When asked about what happened to the Democratic Party—even former President Bill Clinton used to support religious liberty, signing a law in the early 1990s that had broad bipartisan support and was nearly identical to the state law that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was attacked over for the past couple weeks—Jindal said the Democrats want to “remove God from the public square” and push America in a more secular direction.

“This is in blue states and red states. Not only did then President Clinton support this, but President Obama has been a supporter of this previously in Illinois,” Jindal said.

And it was the “radical conservative” Chuck Schumer who actually proposed this and voted for this in Congress. There used to be a bipartisan consensus that the reality is in America we believe in tolerance and in diversity and that includes the right of folks to live out their religious beliefs. I think a couple things have changed. There was bipartisan support. Conservatives stood up and voted for this bill when it was about other religious minorities but what the left does not want to admit is there is one group they continue to allow discrimination against and that is of Evangelical Christians. They say they are for tolerance and respect and diversity—and they are, unless you happen to disagree with them. I think the left has been captured by the radical left and now when Secretary [Hillary] Clinton—Bill Clinton’s wife—when she talks about freedom of religious express, she’s not talking about religious liberty. She’s saying for an hour a week you can do whatever you want in your church or synagogue. That’s not the same thing as living your life according to your sincerely held beliefs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I think the left has gotten themselves captured by their extreme base. The reality is they want this country to become more secular. They want to remove God from the public square. They want an America that our founding Fathers wouldn’t recognize, that our parents wouldn’t recognize, that you and I wouldn’t recognize. They want an America where faith is silenced, privatized and circumscribed. This is a country where we are a land sustained by faith but they want to change America into something we’ve never been before.

Jindal said the attacks that have been launched against Indiana’s Memories Pizza—a Christian-owned pizzeria whose owners said they wouldn’t be able to serve pizzas at a gay wedding—which forced the company to close its doors temporarily for security purposes, “shows the hypocrisy of the left yet again.”

“The fact is they would be the first to tell you they are all for plurality and diversity and freedom of speech until you disagree with them,” Jindal said.

I think conservatives, this is not just a fight in Arkansas and not just a fight in Indiana, the reality is—look I’m proud of Louisiana, we’re one of those states that already has a religious freedom law on the books. We’ve already got one in Congress. We as conservatives need to realize what’s at stake here. It’s easy to read those news articles and say, “well, I don’t own a restaurant,” or “I don’t live in that state,” so “it doesn’t affect me.” This affects all of us. I think we not only need to be advocating for religious liberty protections but we need to be pushing elected officials—don’t let them get away with using words like “freedom of religious expression.” Push them to say what they mean by that. The reality is this isn’t just to be able to worship in church or synagogue for an hour. This is really to be able to live our lives.

After recounting several recent major Supreme Court cases, like the Hobby Lobby case, Jindal said, “this assault is not going away.”

“This is not just a one-week battle, this is not done in just Indiana and Arkansas, this is something that’s spreading across the country,” Jindal said. “There was a time when the left did have respect—you saw it in the ’90s with these bipartisan votes for people of faith—but I think the extreme left is becoming more secular, more radical and we need to fight back for our religious liberty rights. It’s foundational and it’s an important part of why this country was founded in the first place.”

Jindal said that part of the reasoning behind the left’s shift away from protecting religious liberty—which they used to do back in the 1990s—to attacking it now is that they believe government knows best and that ordinary Americans are too stupid to think for themselves.

“Two things I think are happening. One, I think there is an arrogance on the left where they think they know better than us how to live our lives,” Jindal said.

We saw this with Obamacare, where the government is going to tell you what kind of insurance to buy. You saw this with school choice, where they don’t think we’re smart enough to pick schools for our children. You see this with Second Amendment fights where they don’t think we’re smart enough to have guns. You see this with the religious liberty fight. You saw this in New York where Mayor Bloomberg tried to stop us from drinking Big Gulps or large sodas. There’s an arrogance here. Now, remember, this president told us this—when he was campaigning for president, he didn’t realize he was being taped, he was caught out in California saying that we were clinging to our guns and our religious out here in the rest of the country. There’s an arrogance on the left that they think government knows best, that they should run our lives because left to our own devices they don’t trust us in our own lives. I think that is arrogant, but it is consistent with the overreach of government power. It’s one of the reasons you see so many scandals, whether it was the DOJ and the AP reporters, whether it was the IRS going after conservative groups. Scandal after scandal are part of this larger, more intrusive, more expansive federal government.

The second major reason behind the left’s assault on religious liberty, Jindal said, is because the “Democratic Party has been taken over by this extreme left on issue after issue.”

“The press loves to talk about conservatives and Republicans, but the reality is the extreme environmentalists don’t want affordable energy—they don’t want the Keystone Pipeline, they don’t want domestic oil and gas production—the radical left wants a single-payer system where the government is running our healthcare, the radical left wants the EPA to strangle our private sector economy, so I think the Democratic Party whether it’s because of their donors or their radical liberal base has become a very liberal party,” Jindal said. “I think it’s up to conservatives to win these elections, to win these cases in court, to pass good laws, and to stand up for our principles. What I worry about though is sometimes our Republicans in D.C.—sometimes, we don’t have the courage of our convictions and we end up just becoming cheaper Democrats. These are important issues and not only do we need to need to win elections we need to actually put our country back on the right path.”


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