Christianity figures prominently in Johnson’s past and present, will likely pace his future

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

 

Starting Wednesday, a photo of new Speake of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.)  kneeling in prayer along with other conservatives on the floor of the House of Representatives began circulating. 

Later, a second photo showed a large group of conservatives joining Johnson in prayer with their heads bowed. 

These were images that were captured and shared with a purpose – rare is the truly spontaneous moment in big-time politics – but each sent an unflinching message: Christianity will be central to Johnson’s speakership. 

The nation’s two major parties are split on whether Johnson’s faith is a good thing, but no one disputes that it will be “the” thing that defines whatever comes next in the still-young political career of the new speaker. 

As soon as he emerged as the presumptive speaker, Johnson posted a photo with no caption on X. In it, all that is visible are the American flag and the phrase “In God We Trust,” which are respectively hung upon and etched into a wall at the U.S. Capitol. 

https://twitter.com/SpeakerJohnson/status/1717194879116148974/photo/1

Democrats, both in politics and the media, have bemoaned the fact that Johnson is so doggedly Christian. Some have referred to him as a Christian nationalist, which is a term used to describe an ideology whose root is interweaving Christianity with governance. 

It’s a term the left often means as a pejorative, but a label Johnson is unlikely to shy from. 

Among his first acts as speaker was to urge prayer in response to a mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine. 

“This is a dark time in America,” Johnson said at the Capitol Thursday morning. “We’re really, really hopeful and prayerful. Prayer is appropriate at a time like this, that the evil can end and the senseless violence can stop.”

Voices on the left responded with a hale of complaints that prayer was insufficient and insensitive following a mass shooting. 

As outlined in more detail and with no small amount of delight by the Independent, Democrats want legislation and are prepared to ridicule on social media in order to get it. 

“The thing about being Speaker is you can do more than think,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) posted on X, adding, “We don’t have to keep reliving this nightmare. You can fix this.”

Johnson has responded by, effectively, not responding. He has continued on the course he has plotted and seems unwilling to engage in a rhetorical war over the appropriateness of prayer in response to a tragedy. 

Instead, he has made broad-stroke promises to take action on numerous fronts. 

“The urgency of this moment demands bold, decisive action to restore trust, advance our legislative priorities, and demonstrate good governance,” Johnson posted on X shortly after his election. “Our House Republican Conference is united, and eager to work. As Speaker, I will ensure the House delivers results and inspires change for the American people. We will restore trust in this body. We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, combat the harmful policies of the Biden Administration, and support our allies abroad. And we will restore sanity to a government desperately in need of it. Let’s get back to work.”

As previously reported by FISM News, Johnson rather quickly shepherded a pro-Israel resolution to passage and has indicated he will move quickly to get the House to address a looming government shutdown likely by coupling a stopgap bill with a wider effort to see a dozen lingering appropriation bills through to passage in the still-divided House.

A HISTORY OF TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VALUES AND ACTIVISM

Johnson is, by comparison to many of his colleagues, still a political newcomer. He’s been in Congress since 2017 and had previously served for a single term in the Louisiana legislature. 

His initial stock in trade was as an attorney who, from the early 2000s until he first sought office, battled in court and the court of public opinion to uphold the traditional definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of marriage, and end abortion.

A senior attorney and national spokesman for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a well-known Christian legal outfit that has represented numerous Christian clients in courts across the nation, Johnson fought, albeit to no avail, on behalf of anti-gay-marriage activists. 

He wrote an amicus brief opposing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case in which the court overturned state laws that criminalized consensual same-sex relationships.

Johnson was also a proponent of and adherent to the concept of covenant marriages and pushed successfully for Louisiana to make this an option in the state. A covenant marriage is one in which both parties agree to a stricter set of guidelines for acquiring a divorce. 

Neither Johnson nor the Alliance Defending Freedom are without their detractors. The latter has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as pro-LGBT legal organizations. 

According to a report from the Huffington Post, progressive author and attorney Andrew Seidel says the Alliance seeks “to remake American law so that it favors cisgender, heterosexual, conservative, white Christian men and everyone [else] is a second-class citizen.”

Seidel added, “If you look at the cases they’ve taken … everything they are doing is designed to get to that end goal. It is absolutely striking that this person [is] a couple of heartbeats away from the presidency.”

In what can only be described as appropriate to the times, no one among the traditionalist Christian right would dispute Seidel’s claim. It’s part of the new speaker’s appeal among his base. 

Johnson has been honored with numerous awards from Christian groups, including the Family Research Council which, coincidentally, has also been labeled a hate group by the SPLC. 

As rediscovered by the Huffington Post, in 2005, well before seeking office, Johnson drew headlines for remarks he made in opposition to same-sex marriage. 

“Regardless of what you hear, it is not about benefits, OK?” Johnson said at a 2005 conference. 

Rather, he argued, same-sex marriage was an attempt to legitimize, as Johnson called them, “same-sex, live-in lovers.”

“It’s about recognition of the lifestyle,” Johnson said in 2005. “It’s about teaching it as the equivalent of marriage. And don’t let anybody fool you and tell you otherwise.”

Johnson has an equally long track record of standing against abortion. He spent the bulk of his legal career advocating against the practice and has taken a traditionalist stance on the matter during his years in Congress. 

He defines any “child in the womb” as a “unique human being with unique DNA”: He opposed Row vs. Wade for decades and campaigned feverishly against abortion rights at the federal level. 

In 2022, Johnson drew a major and harsh reaction from the left when he used the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade to give an anti-abortion speech on the House floor. 

“Abortion takes a baby’s life — a person — made in God’s image,” Johnson said at the time. The video of that speech is still available on X. 

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