WASHINGTON, D.C., April 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although other Republican governors have “quickly cowered” when large corporations place the homosexual agenda ahead of religious liberty, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal vowed today to defend freedom of conscience from anyone – whether the assault comes from Hollywood liberals, activist judges, homosexual pressure groups, or even a traditional Republican ally like Big Business.
In a New York Times op-ed that combined constitutional philosophy with political strategy, Jindal wrote those who believe in traditional values are under assault from a well-funded alliance of secular “progressive” elitists from L.A. to Wall Street.
“Hollywood and the media elite are hostile to our values and they tip the scales to our liberal opponents at every opportunity,” he wrote. “Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom.”
The two-term governor had a simple message for anyone who would try to get him to change his position on marriage or religious protections: “Save your breath.”
Jindal said he had already received corporate pushback as he fought for his state's pending Marriage and Conscience Act (H.B. 707).
Contrary to media caricatures of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts – like the one Jindal signed in 2010 – RFRA bills do not create a blanket right for businesses to discriminate against homosexuals. However, a devout business owner would not have to violate his, or her, conscience by participating in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony, a ritual with clearly religious implications.
“As a nation we would not compel a priest, minister or rabbi to violate his conscience and perform a same-sex wedding ceremony,” Jindal wrote. “But a great many Americans who are not members of the clergy feel just as called to live their faith through their businesses.”
Jindal's proposed H.B. 707 would add an additional layer of legal protection by preventing the state from denying state funding, licenses, or taking any “adverse action” against business owners who refused to participate in or recognize same-sex “marriages.”
The bill does not forbid gay “marriage” statewide – another, popular law already does that. But David Badash wrote at The New Civil Rights Movement that under the bill's terms, for instance, “Your employer doesn't have to extend medical coverage to your spouse.”
That has not made corporate interests, which often favor left-leaning social policies, happy.
Jindal linked to a letter from James M. Driesse, the Senior State Executive of IBM, who clearly linked its economic participation in Louisiana with Jindal's revising the law.
“IBM has made significant investment” in the state, Driesse wrote, but allowing businesses to deny same-sex “marriages” for religious reasons “will create a hostile environment.”
“IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law,” the letter warned.
Jindal, who is a likely 2016 presidential hopeful, said he is “certain that other companies, under pressure from radical liberals, will” follow suit, “but they will not deter me.”
Instead, they should be joining what had once been a three-legged stool of social, economic, and national security conservatives fighting against the Left, he said.
“The left-wing ideologues who oppose religious freedom are the same ones who seek to tax and regulate businesses out of existence,” he wrote. “The same people who think that profit making is vulgar believe that religiosity is folly.”
He added that denying religious freedom would rend our fraying social fabric. “A pluralistic and diverse society like ours can exist only if we all tolerate people who disagree with us,” he counseled. “That’s why religious freedom laws matter.”
His op-ed immediately generated angry remarks from the Left and sighs of recognition on the Right.
Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council told LifeSiteNews that Jindal is “correct that corporations have to do some soul-searching to see if they truly support religious freedom for all, or if they are prepared to tell some religious believers their claims aren’t worth as much as others.”
“Big Business needs to remember that the many Americans who support its services and buy its products will observe how it treats and talks about their deeply held beliefs. All they are asking is to be left alone by the government to freely live out these beliefs in their lives and businesses,” Weber told LifeSiteNews.
“Governor Jindal recognizes this,” he said. “Big Business should do the same.”
Voices on the Left pursued their well-worn line, accusing Jindal of aiding discrimination and giving sanction to bigotry. The feminist, and often vulgar, website Wonkette.com riffed, “This is an important, serious religion in the United States, the God Hates Fags religion, and it deserves to be protected!”
But Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said that Jindal walked the line between conscience and charity perfectly, acting as “both a defender of religious liberty and an opponent of unjust discrimination.”
The Catholic spokesman called the governor's “willingness to publicly chastise corporations, from Wal-Mart to Wall Street, that have jumped on board the gay-marriage bandwagon” as “perhaps the boldest and most refreshing part of Jindal's essay.”
Economic freedom alone is not enough to maintain liberty, he said. “A free society depends as much on the virtue of its citizens as it does any factor.”
Conservative writer Dan Calabrese seemed pleased that “if the radical gay lobby or terrified Chamber of Commerce weenies try to bully Jindal into changing” the law, “they're apparently not going to get very far.”
When corporations demanded RFRA bills be vetoed or gutted, other Reublican governors – Mike Pence of Indiana and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas – “folded like cheap suits,” he wrote.
Yet there was no great difference in the underlying principles of those state bills and the pending bill Jindal has so strongly championed, he said. “Jindal just explains it better.”
Calabrese “challenges conservatives to stop being such cowards in the face of liberal/media pressure on issues like this” and “counter their lies.”
“What Jindal understands is that you treat the radical gay mob the same way you treat a bully on the schoolyard,” he said. “You stand up to them. You refuse to be intimidated.”
Donohue agreed. “He gets it,” he said. “Hopefully he will inspire others to get it as well.”