THE BLOG

Jeb! 50 Shades of Religious Conviction

06/24/2015 12:19 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2016

Make no mistake about it: Jeb Bush is excited about running for president. To prove his excitement, he has placed an exclamation point in his campaign logo design:

Jeb! wants you to be excited that he is running for president. In order to drum up enthusiasm wherever he goes, Jeb! will say whatever the crowd wants to hear. Changing his tune with each state he visits, he hopes differing crowds will be chanting "Jeb! Jeb! Jeb!" after he speaks.

Jeb! is secular sometimes, and faithful and devout at other times. It all depends on where he is and who he is talking to. 50 states allows for 50 shades of Jeb!'s religious conviction.

In not-so-religious New Hampshire last week, Jeb! declared: "I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope." This was in response to Pope Francis' encyclical about climate change. He continued, "I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm." This separation-of-church-and-state statement received a positive response from the New Hampshire crowd. "Jeb!" they exclaimed enthusiastically.

Just a few days later, Jeb! was in Iowa. "If we're a person of faith, we should be able to act on it in the political realm. I think it's OK to have a set of principles that are informed by some moral underpinning," he stated, assuming Iowans prefer a more sacred, less secular, Bush.

He followed this up in Washington D.C at a Faith & Freedom Coalition conference with even more religiosity. To this crowd of Christian conservatives, Jeb! was fervently faithful: "If we act on our faith each and every day we are going to create a more loving world." He highlighted faith-based decisions he had made as governor of Florida. "The instinct to do these things didn't come from nowhere. They came from our religious traditions." Supporters in the crowd were thinking, "Yes! Jeb! That's exactly what we want to hear!"

Is Jeb! pandering? No! He has insisted that he would never violate his core principles during his campaign.

Maybe his statements are not contradictory. His principles might boil down to this:

  • Climate change = don't listen to religious leaders
  • Abortion, homosexuality, right-to-die cases = do listen to religious leaders

To be fair, Jeb! has declared that he will ignore other leaders, too, not just religious ones. To his Faith and Freedom followers, he said that he would ignore the Supreme Court's upcoming decision about same-sex marriage if the court allows such unions in all 50 states. He will keep fighting to preserve his religion's idea of traditional marriage "irregardless of what the courts say."

So... Jeb!'s principles might be amended to this:

  • Climate change = ignore Pope
  • Same-sex marriage = ignore Supreme Court

At a NADA convention back in January, Jeb! stated that Republicans must "lay out a hopeful, optimistic message that's based in reality, that's grounded in a set of policies that are real, that people believe can actually happen." Following Jeb!'s logic, then, climate change is not real and national same-sex marriage rights are not going to actually happen.

"My core beliefs start with the premise that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line, not the back," Jeb! promises in his "Making a Difference" campaign video. Following this logic, gays and women are not vulnerable and should be pushed to the back. Christians, I presume, will be placed in the front of the line.

Or, maybe not. Where do you live? Maybe he will say something you would like to hear when he comes to your state.