Jindal to warn of government assault on religious liberty

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Friday, February 14, 2014 - 8:00am

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will caution Thursday of a "silent war" being waged by political elites on Americans' religious liberty and prescribe state-based laws to combat government overreach.

Jindal is scheduled to speak Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library -- the latest potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate to make the trek to Simi Valley, California, to pay homage to the famed conservative leader.

According to prepared remarks, Jindal will reference the current debate over contraception playing out on the Supreme Court level between the Obama administration and Hobby Lobby.

The for-profit corporation is asking for an exemption to the Affordable Care Act requirement that certain private companies provide contraception coverage to their workers. Ahead of oral arguments next month, the craft store giant, founded and run by a devout Christian couple, is seeking an exclusion from the health care law's requirements on religious grounds, maintaining that some contraceptive products, such as the morning-after pill, equate to abortion.

"The Obama administration's argument ignores these beliefs and treats them as little more than an inconvenience to its ever-expanding regulatory state," Jindal is expected to say. "The administration's argument strikes at the core of our understanding of free exercise of religion. This case could have enormous ramifications for religious business owners across the country."

He will go on to reference another Supreme Court case, which the Obama administration lost, involving a Michigan teacher who wanted to sue the church school that dismissed her after she went on medical leave. At issue was whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hiring and firing decisions involving "ministerial employees" like teachers who may have primarily secular job duties.

"So for the time being at least, the government doesn't get to decide who can preach the gospel. But the important thing to note is that the government wanted to make that decision. That is truly offensive and frightening," Jindal will say.

In the speech, Jindal will suggest that these cases are only the beginning of the government's continued suppression of individuals' religious rights and will pivot to legal battles throughout the country over same-sex marriage laws.

"This war on religious liberty -- on your freedom to exercise your religion, on your freedom to associate, on your freedom of expression -- is only going to continue. It is going to continue because of an idea, a wrongheaded concept, which President Obama apparently believes: that religious freedom means you have the freedom to worship, and that's all," he will say.

According to the excerpts, the two-term Louisiana governor will push for action on the state level to combat against the "silent war" and will praise states such as Kansas and Kentucky that have passed laws granting greater legal protections to individuals' religious beliefs.

Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants who practice Hinduism, converted to Catholicism in college. Thursday's speech at the Reagan Library won't be the first time he's has flexed his social-conservative ideals.

Jindal, along with GOP firebrand Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz, was one of the first political figures to wade into the controversy over "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson's suspension from the show over his anti-gay remarks. Jindal blamed the media and the "politically correct crowd" for the reality star's forced leave from the series.

Jindal, who is term-limited as governor, continues to stoke 2016 speculation with trips to politically important states such as like New Hampshire, which he will visit next month.

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