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December 9, 2008

Spiritual Lagniappe

One associates Louisiana politics with many exotic things, but Asian Catholic Republicans are not among them. Now there are two. The first is Bobby Jindal, born to Indian immigrants, who abandoned the Hinduism of his youth and converted to Catholicism. In 2007, he became the first Indian-American governor in the nation's history. Then, over the weekend, Joseph (Anh) Cao defeated the disgraced William Jefferson to become the nation's first congressman of Vietnamese antecedents. Before becoming a lawyer, he spent some time in a Jesuit seminary studying to be a priest.

Jindal and Cao both deserve to be considered Catholic intellectuals, but there the resemblance ends. A graduate of Brown University and a Rhodes Scholar, Jindal quickly established himself as a culture warrior. Here he is writing on "Atheism's Gods" in the Catholic apologetic magazine This Rock in 1995:

The wave of political correctness, which has affected universities at every level, has also infected religious and philosophical thought. Whereas Western universities once existed to train clergymen and educate others in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, modern centers of higher learning are much more secular and skeptical toward anything remotely religious.

Currently being touted as presidential material, Jindal is a favorite of the social conservative elite.

Cao, by contrast, appears to be anything but a social conservative ideologue. According to Adam Nagourney's profile in today's NTY, he has spent most of his adult life as a political independent--an existential choice perhaps related to his fondness for Camus and Dostoevsky. While studying to be a priest he worked with the poor in Mexico and in Vietnamese refugee camps in Hong Kong, then decided to work for social change via politics, helping his community as a lawyer in post-Katrina New Orleans. "Politics and religious life," he told Nagourney, "don't mix."

If anything, Cao seems most akin to fellow freshman congressman-elect Tom Perriello (D-Va), a "common good" Catholic who has spent much of his legal career working for international nonprofits dedicated to improving the lot of the least among us. It will be interesting to see how Cao fares in the House Republican conference.

(Originally published at Spiritual Politics.)


This article is disappointing in so many ways. First I am not sure what a Socail conservative ideologue is.

I am very excited about CAO and yes I suspect Jindal and CAO are different on certain things as we see in all politicians.

There is a disturbing trend to view "social COnservatives" polticians as just that. That was very frustrating when watching coverage of Hucakebee and Palin. What they did as Executives in thier states on a thousand different issues is of no apparent interest. Palin that did not really do a lot of social conservative things as Governor for instance is labeled a Social COnservative only.

JIndal did a tad more than just write articles as a social conservative crusader

At a very young age Bobby broke upon the scene when In 1996 Foster appointed Jindal to be secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, an agency which then represented about 40 percent of the state budget.

Jindal was appointed to become the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System. In March 2001 he was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.[10]

When he ran for Governor the theme was corruption and economics.

I just hope Christian publications would take the lead in not putting people (Fellow Christians in a box)