Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is aggressively courting conservative Christians as he contemplates a potential run for the White House in 2016 – and it appears to be paying dividends.
The Republican politician has been developing relationships with evangelical leaders while promoting himself as a champion of family values and battling increasing religious intolerance, according to BuzzFeed.
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Michael Farris, founder of the evangelical Patrick Henry College, said Jindal is looked on very favorably by the religious right, while comparing him to former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a minister who is also seen as a possible presidential candidate.
Jindal "is a top-tier candidate, and he’ll resonate a lot with that community," said Farris, who leads the fight for Christian home-schoolers, a main part of Iowa’s conservative base.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Jindal had an unblemished voting record on vital social issues, and a personal life that sets an example of conservative religious values.
Perkins said Jindal and his wife, Supriya, were the nation’s first couple to take part in a "covenant marriage," which makes divorce more difficult.
"His foundation [is] really centered on his Christian faith," Perkins told BuzzFeed. "Talk is cheap, but the walk is where you find the worth of an individual. And he is walking."
Perkins said he’s helping Jindal to build grass-roots support among the GOP’s religious conservatives, and he believes that evangelicals will get behind the governor in 2016 if he decides to run.
An Indian American raised Hindu by immigrant parents in a middle-class Baton Rouge suburb, Jindal converted to Catholicism in his late teens, and now calls for a culture war as part of his battle for religious freedom.
Although Jindal maintains that people should be able to live according to their faith, he insists that he’s not crusading for a strict moral code in America, according to BuzzFeed.
"I gave a talk at Liberty University, where I told the graduates that they were entering a world more secular than the one their parents went into," Jindal said. "That, as believers, that was their opportunity to be a light in the world.
"I told them I don’t think you should go out there and be victims and complain about it. But it just seems to me that increasingly the groups that are more and more picked on in society are evangelical Christians."
Jindal pointed to Phil Robertson, the patriarch on the A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty," as an example of religious intolerance when he was castigated for his conservative Christian views. After Robertson made crude comments against gays in a GQ magazine interview, he was briefly suspended by A&E.
"There’s a lot of stuff on TV I find offensive, and I change the channel," Jindal said. "Now, I’m not saying as governor I want to tell A&E what they can and can’t do. They’re a private business, they’ve got a right to put whatever content they want on the air.
"I’m just saying as a culture, I think it’s a very dangerous place if we go from being a society that was founded because of religious liberty, to a place where we become so intolerant of those who disagree with us that we try to either silence their views, or we try limit their views to where you can only have them for an hour on Sunday."
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