The following was penned by Gene Mills, President of the Louisiana Family Forum:
I’ve worked with numerous governors over my 30+ years around Louisiana’s political landscape, including Louisiana’s current Governor. Throughout those years, I have tried to hold public officials accountable while personally modeling the respect due to each civil government official as Scripture requires (Romans 13). It is in that spirit that I respectfully offer these thoughts.
Governor John Bel Edwards and I, though often public policy opposites, remain friendly and co-operative when common ground is found. The most recent example of that is Criminal Justice Reform. My involvement was at his request, and I served out of respect for his office and a shared belief that of the 18,000 inmates released each year in Louisiana, that a 42% recidivism rate within five years was too high. I respect Governor Edwards family and his lovely and talented wife. His pro-life and pro-second amendment platform won the Louisiana electorate in 2016, and many had high expectations for this deep-south Democrat going forward.
Last week, while launching his reelection campaign Governor Edwards took a swing at an old foe of his and a good friend of mine – former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. I understand that it is said that “all is fair in love and war… and politics.” However, it is political season predictable to me when one joins the chorus of others - making a ghost of the past argument – which oversimplifies and misrepresents a good man’s tenure. Among other things, Bobby Jindal understood the importance of regularly inviting socially conservative, Evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic pastors to his table to discuss policies which were impacting their cities, their churches and the shared responsibility we have to minister. We prayed together, communicated concerns, and listened to his responses. When hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana, the reaction from this conversation was tangible. By our small network’s account, tens of millions of dollars of goods and services moved, at no taxpayer expense, through this group of communicating and cooperating friends who ministered to the impacted families.
I can offer a few additional things Bobby Jindal did very well:
He earnestly supported traditional family values. Governor Jindal refused to extend executive actions from his predecessors affirming the LGBTQ+ agenda and bringing sexual politics into state government. Governor Edwards signed an executive order expanding LGBTQ+ rights. Only Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and three failed court appeals stopped JBE’s executive advocacy.
Governor Jindal was a staunch defender of religious liberty. He supported and signed our state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (2010). John Bel Edwards, as a legislator in 2009, had deep concerns with a constitutional amendment on religious liberty and he voted against the amendment. Then Rep. Edwards did vote for the 2010 version of the bill.
Governor Jindal served as a firewall protecting our state from the incessant encroachment of gambling interests. It was well known in the industry that he would oppose both de-regulation as well as the expansion of gambling. Under Governor Edwards, gambling bills filed and passed has exploded – including new forms of gaming.
Yes, there are significant differences in the governance and ideology of these two men. However, it’s disingenuous for Governor Edwards to oversimplify the past while ignoring the context that the policies of both President Obama and President Trump have had on our economic and political landscape.
I urge Governor Edwards and his surrogates to focus on the present reality. From LFF’s vantage point, much work remains before Louisiana is known as a place where God is honored, families flourish, liberty is cherished, and state government is laser-focused on its constitutional imperatives. Bobby Jindal has not been the Governor for nearly four years. Surely, there are present indicators which assist the Governor in making his case to the voters of Louisiana. In the meantime, I will continue to remind our state of the remarkable legacy of Bobby Jindal.
Louisiana Family Forum