New York: Louisiana’s Indian-American governor Bobby Jindal referred to himself as an “evangelical Catholic” while addressing Christian conservatives and shared his story of conversion from Hinduism, a move seen by many as an effort to garner support for a presidency bid in 2016.
Jindal, seen as one of the prospective Republican candidate for 2016’s presidential run, covered everything from his Catholic conversion as a teenager to high-profile battles over birth control at a commencement speech at Liberty University, the conservative Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Jindal, 42, also met a dozen politically active pastors at a private dinner Friday night and narrated his conversion story to them as well, The Washington Post reported.
“Jindal’s session with the Christian clergy, who lead congregations in the early presidential battleground states of Iowa and South Carolina, was part of a behind-the-scenes effort by the Louisiana governor to find a political base that could help propel him into the top tier of Republican candidates seeking to run for the White House in 2016,” the paper said.
In his speech at the Liberty University on Saturday, Jindal attacked President Barack Obama and his government.
“Today the American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war…It is a war — a silent war — against religious liberty,” Jindal was quoted as saying by The Times-Picayune.
Liberty is an important stop for Republicans seeking the White House who need to court the evangelical Christian vote.
Most Republican presidential candidates over the last three decades, including John McCain and Mitt Romney, have visited the university for a high-profile speech during their national campaigns.
The Louisiana governor is one of a few potential 2016 presidential candidates — including US Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — to speak at Liberty in the past few months.
Jindal took his opportunity to shore up his conservative Christian credentials, referring to himself as an “evangelical Catholic” during the remarks.
“The most significant moment of my life was when I turned it over to Jesus Christ and acknowledged Him as my Savior,” said Jindal.
The governor told the crowd how, as a child, he read his Bible in a closet at first, for fear of how his parents — Indian immigrants who are practicing Hindus — might react.
“I read the words of Jesus Christ and I realised that they were true. I used to think that I had found God, but I believe it is more accurate to say that He found me,” said Jindal of his conversion.