Jindal may get his face on the poster because he is a traditionalist Catholic whose brand sells well to conservative evangelicals, and as The Wall Street Journal recently noted has a "gift for oratory."
As I noted in Part Thirty-three of this series:
Over the last generation, certain neo-orthodox Catholics have been building bridges to evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants. But this "bridge-building" is increasingly accomplished with roadways to the most rigid forms of Catholicism. And while some Catholics have yielded to fundamentalists opposition on the theory of evolution, socially conservative Protestants seem to be increasingly amenable to Vatican notions of natural law principles that appear in their united opposition to abortion, end of life issues and stem cell research.
Recruiting and grooming a generation of political leaders that fit this bill is an obvious necessity for the long-term viability of the Religious Right. Writing in the August 29, 2007 edition of the Washington Post, former Bush White House speechwriter Michael Gerson observed of then Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Jindal:
Jindal -- a convert to Christianity from a Hindu background -- has none of the politician's typical reticence on religion. "I'm proud of my faith," he told me in a phone interview. "I believe in God, that Jesus died and rose. I can't divide my public and private conscience. I can't stop being a Christian, and wouldn't want to for a moment of the day."
And Jindal's chosen tradition is a muscular Roman Catholicism. In an article published in the 1990s, he argued, "The same Catholic Church which infallibly determined the canon of the Bible must be trusted to interpret her handiwork; the alternative is to trust individual Christians, burdened with, as Calvin termed it, their 'utterly depraved' minds, to overcome their tendency to rationalize, their selfish desires, and other effects of original sin." And elsewhere: "The choice is between Catholicism's authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy."
Jindal's complete statement can be found in a 1996 article entitled How Catholicism is Different. The young governor is also not adverse to playing the "secular-as-equivalent-to-religious-hostility" card. As Jindal has written in a piece entitled Atheism's Gods:
THE wave of political correctness, which has affected universities at every level, has also infected religious and philosophical thought. Whereas Western universities once existed to train clergymen and educate others in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, modern centers of higher learning are much more secular and skeptical toward anything remotely religious. Faith is a taboo subject among many of the educated elite; indeed, persons with strong religious convictions are often viewed with scorn and disapproval. Equating all religious beliefs with the seemingly intolerant attitude of Fundamentalists, the more ardent critics of religion are so bold as to equate faith with ignorance and disparage any attempt to support faith with reason as naive.
The piece also contains a twisted attack on liberal philosopher John Rawls:
John Rawls, author of A Theory of Justice and a respected political philosopher, has single-handedly done more to retard honest discussion of issues like justice and equality than any recent writer. He has done this through his adoption of normative principles without acknowledging the necessity of underlying justification.
Besides his blatant dissembling of Rawls(i), it is rather odd that Jindal would go after a contemporary thinker whose thought meshed with Catholic teachings on social justice, particularly an individual's reciprocal relationship between the receipt of benefits and contribution to the common good; that, besides Rawls being so heavily influenced by philosopher Immanuel Kant.
But while there is speculation that Jindal is on McCain's list of possible running mates, there are other factors to consider. He is only 36 and his lack of experience effectively neutralizes a key GOP Obama talking point. A more realistic expectation is that with his oratory skills and Indian heritage he would be a logical choice for the GOP's keynote speaker at this summer's convention in Minneapolis.
But with that in mind, Jindal is force to be reckoned with. He is fervently anti-choice, anti-gay rights and anti-embryonic stem cell research - policy positions while in step with the current Vatican hierarchy but very much out-of-step with the majority of ordinary mainstream American Catholics. Jindal meshes this set of beliefs with a laissez-faire economic outlook.
Now that's a Catholic that conservative evangelicals can get behind!
The New York Times reported:
Hot-button terms and issues are avoided. Cloning will not get state financing but also will not be criminalized, and Mr. Jindal is nowhere to be seen on the Louisiana Science Education Act, which promotes "open and objective discussion" in the schools of "evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning."
But while Bobby Jindal may not be overtly arguing for such legislation, he now sits in the governor's chair ready and willing to sign such legislation when it reaches his desk.
And that is why we should be wise and wary about Jindal rising. He epitomizes a new generation of the Religious Right. On the plus side, he is also proof against retrograde punditry that has declared the religious right dead or dying so many times over the past decades you would think that resurrection might be part of their vocabulary. But never mind about that. If the current liberal resurgence falters, Jindal's rising may well portend an actual, as well as punditcratic, resurrection of the Religious Right.
...at the end of his career of his Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (2000), Rawls's most searching examination of liberalism's foundations, he provides reasons to believe that far from being the antithesis of freedom, religious faith of a certain sort may be the basis of our respect for freedom, the very thing that renders our respect rational.
The Catholic Right: A Series, by Frank L. Cocozzelli :
Jindal, Rising | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden)
Jindal, Rising | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden)