This column is almost certain to produce a firestorm of righteously indignant protests from supporters of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
It did four years ago, so why should this year be any different?
Well, for one, when TV ads about Jindal’s religion ran four years ago, they were political ads paid for by the Louisiana Democratic Party.
This is no TV ad, however. This is about a governor, our governor, who would one day be president and who is on record—his own written record, no less—of (1) conducting an exorcism at the tender age of 19 and (2) his claim that Catholicism is the superior religion and all others merely lead to “anarchy and heresy.”
As to the second part, it would be most interesting to hear the governor reconcile his view of Catholicism as the superior denomination with his frequent testimonials at all those north Louisiana Protestant churches. It would be even more interesting to hear his Protestant supporters make that same reconciliation.
Certainly, this is not to say that it’s impossible, but a 19-year-old new convert to Catholicism performing an exorcism would seem somewhat akin to a squirrel trying to land a 747. At night. In a driving monsoon. On caffeine.
Jindal wrote in 1994 about the exorcism of a friend he called Susan while both were students at Brown University.
In his lengthy narrative, he relates how, when Susan was supposedly being possessed, he promised her he’d “stand by her forever” and “to be the rock against which she could lean.”
So what did he do when she began spouting “guttural sounds” and fell to the floor, “thrashing about?”
“I refused to budge from my position and froze in horror,” he said. “I was beginning to doubt that I had the capacity for feeling. I was the only one present who remained silent and apart from the group.”
After retreating to the opposite side of the room, Jindal wrote, he suddenly remembered attending a charismatic church once, “out of curiosity, but (I) had merely seen a congregation dance wildly, pray enthusiastically, and speak in a language that sounded like gibberish.” (Remember: these are his words, not ours).
A member of University Christian Fellowship (UCF) at Brown, he took another shot at Protestants in describing the incident with Susan. “UCF had turned to a rival campus Christian group for spiritual tactics. (Rival group? Apparently there are rivals within Christianity. With spiritual tactics, no less.)
“The preacher had denied our request for assistance and recommended that we not confront the demon; his suggestion was a little late,” Jindal wrote. “I still wonder if the good preacher was too settled to be roused from bed, or if this supposed expert doubted his own ability to confront whatever harassed Susan.”
Further into his essay, Jindal again revealed his key role in the exorcism.
“I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back,” he said. “Thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace with myself.”
When the ordeal of Susan’s possession and exorcism was finally ended, Jindal said Susan’s sister thought it best that Susan stay in the house of a missionary “with experience in spiritual warfare in foreign countries.”
This was because, Jindal wrote, “Susan’s roommate, the daughter of a Hmong faith healer, had decorated the room with supposedly pagan influences.”
Moreover, he said, Susan’s mother “had once worshipped and offered a sacrifice at a pagan alter in the Far East for her husband’s health (and) though he had been healed, she had been warned not to repeat such practices, but had returned to that same altar in the Far East upon hearing of Susan’s illness.”
Susan, he said, thought her “intense flirting with guys and straying away from God” had led to her punishment.
He said Susan, “despite her vicious attacks against the Church while in her trance and despite her sister’s staunch opposition,” became an active member of the Catholic Church.
All this is not to belittle or disparage anyone’s faith. A person’s religious beliefs are his own and they are personal and private. But to denounce Protestants as he did and then to put those beliefs aside today as he hops from Baptist to Methodist to Pentecostal church in a state police helicopter—paid for by tax dollars—for the purpose of testifying to his deep and abiding faith to Protestant congregations is the very definition of hypocrisy.
He wrote of the experience of Susan’s exorcism that he was beginning to doubt that he had the capacity for feeling.
At least some things never change.
Just ask any state civil service employee.
In 1996, Jindal wrote:
“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. The choice is between Catholicism’s authoritative Magisterium and subjective interpretation which leads to anarchy and heresy.”
“Selfish desires?” “Utterly depraved minds?” “Subjective interpretation? “Anarchy?” “Heresy?” Does that sound like something he’d say to the adoring congregation at the East Shongaloo First Baptist Brotherhood Apostolic Church?
In a somewhat twisted attack on intellectualism and political correctness, Jindal took one more indirect shot at Protestants in that same 1996 article. He said that the “educated elite” equate all religious beliefs with the “seemingly intolerant attitude of Fundamentalists.”
Wonder how all those quotes by our governor and presidential wannabe would play at the Dry Prong Full Gospel Tabernacle of Faith?