Bobby Jindal's Big Night and the Future of Religious Conservatives in the GOP

Responding to Obama's address, the Louisiana governor presents a new face for Christian conservatives.


By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

For those of you wondering whether the Christian right has a place anymore in the Republican Party of John McCain and Michael Steele, consider for a moment the Republican governors who are poised to be the next leaders in the national party.

There's Alaska's Sarah Palin, darling of the GOP's evangelical base. There's Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty, a proud evangelical conservative. And Mark Sanford, whom the Christian right tried to draft into the 2008 presidential primaries because the movement was so distraught over the Republican field.

And then there's Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who will give the response to President Obama's prime-time address to Congress tomorrow night. Though he talks about it less than faith-based candidates like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Jindal, a conservative Roman Catholic, is a well-known cultural conservative and good friend of "pro family" groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

As Politico notes in its curtain raiser on Jindal's big night:

Jindal is a cultural as well as a fiscal conservative, and his traditional Catholic views—including an article he wrote in 1994 about an exorcism he witnessed—have drawn fire from some Democrats. But he also has a personal narrative that's drawn comparisons to that of Barack Hussein Obama.

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal (he's called himself and been known as Bobby since he was a young boy), the son of Punjabi Indian immigrants, converted from Hinduism to Catholicism before graduating from Brown with degrees in biology and public policy and then earning a master's in political science from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar.

Religious conservatism in the GOP ain't dead. Far from it. The real story is that it has been reborn in younger, more sophisticated, and less divisive politicians like Jindal.

  • Read more by Dan Gilgoff.
  • Read more about Republicans.