Is Exorcism Bobby Jindal's Cure for Ebola?
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal doesn't just want to be President of the United States. In 2012, he claimed he wanted to rid his Republican Party of its demons to purge it of "dumbed-down conservatism" and ensure the GOP was no longer "the stupid party." But he didn't mean it. After all, in the intervening two years the same Bobby Jindal who has since charged that President Obama is "anti-science" and "not very smart" has refused to say whether he believes in evolution. And when it comes to the Ebola virus, Governor Jindal didn't just demand a travel ban rejected by health care experts. Last week, his administration issued a letter telling Ebola researchers who had recently traveled to afflicted West African nations not to attend an upcoming conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans."
But Jindal's grandstanding on Ebola may not merely be a question of politics, but of faith. Back in 1994, the Hindu-turned-Catholic Jindal performed an exorcism on an Oxford classmate. Perhaps Bobby Jindal believes that "with holy water and blessed crucifixes," he can once again "provide physical protection from the demons" that afflict a handful of Americans and thousands of people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Then a Rhodes Scholar, Jindal took to the pages of the New Oxford Review to explain how to beat a demon in "Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare." Initially at a loss as to how to help his despondent, depressed and disturbed friend Susan, Bobby Jindal literally tried a Hail Mary:
Strangely, I found myself repeating the Hail Mary until it became a chant. Being a recent convert to Catholicism, I had yet to accept the Catholic doctrines concerning Mary and considered any form of Marian devotion to be idolatry. Though I had never before prayed a Hail Mary in my life, I suddenly found myself incapable of any other form of prayer. Somehow, Mary's intercessions allowed me to find peace during that long night; I knew that I had survived the worst and that I would exit with my faith intact. It terrified me to recall how close I came to turning away from Christ out of fear.
While the Hail Mary prayers proved a great help for Jindal himself, Susan seemed destined to go the Linda Blair route. So, the future governor brought out the heavy artillery:
The crucifix had a calming effect on Susan, and her sister was soon brave enough to bring a Bible to her face. At first, Susan responded to biblical passages with curses and profanities. Mixed in with her vile attacks were short and desperate pleas for help. In the same breath that she attacked Christ, the Bible's authenticity, and everyone assembled in prayer, Susan would suddenly urge us to rescue her. It appeared as if we were observing a tremendous battle between the Susan we knew and loved and some strange evil force. But the momentum had shifted and we now sensed that victory was at hand.
While Alice and Louise held Susan, her sister continued holding the Bible to her face. Almost taunting the evil spirit that had almost beaten us minutes before, the students dared Susan to read biblical passages. She choked on certain passages and could not finish the sentence "Jesus is Lord." Over and over, she repeated "Jesus is L..L..LL," often ending in profanities. In between her futile attempts, Susan pleaded with us to continue trying and often smiled between the grimaces that accompanied her readings of Scripture. Just as suddenly as she went into the trance, Susan suddenly reappeared and claimed "Jesus is Lord."
With an almost comical smile, Susan then looked up as if awakening from a deep sleep and asked, "Has something happened?" She did not remember any of the past few hours and was startled to find her friends breaking out in cheers and laughter, overwhelmed by sudden joy and relief.
Fast forward to 2014 and the former Oxford exorcist can't seem to bring himself to pray for President Obama in the battle to contain and defeat Ebola in the U.S. and Africa. "Time and time again," Jindal complained, "the CDC and the administration in general have told us things that turned out not to be true."
"They've been a dollar short and a day late time and time again," said Jindal. "They seem to underestimate the challenges. They don't seem to be responding competently. I've called it malpractice. I think that they need to be doing do a much better job protecting us."
Perhaps for Bobby Jindal, exorcism is just what the doctor ordered.