Members of Congress participate in regressive circus at D.C. Bible Museum

Headshot of U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson and other members of Congress recently participated in an extremist and hate-fueled event at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

As we had noted prior to the event, the “National Gathering for Prayer & Repentance” was filled with Christian nationalists and conspiratorial extremists, many of whom participated in the event last year, including Johnson. Lawmakers in attendance this year knew what to expect — and shamefully supported it with the prestige of their elected offices.

Evangelical preacher Lou Engle, who reportedly helped plant the seeds for Uganda’s law punishing homosexuality with death, screamed for a “baptism of fire” that would cause “a hundred thousand LGBT to be saved and transformed.” Jon Hamill, another extremist preacher, called for God to “cleanse” the U.S. government so that it has “no king but Jesus,” claiming a betrayal of the country due to “idolatry, witchcraft, false religions and secret orders, secret societies.”

Members of Congress in attendance joined in the Christian nationalist fever dream, such as Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), who proclaimed that the assembled group had “tied the hands of Satan and all his demons,” and declared that “each person, regardless of their race, nationality, [or] language” will serve and praise God, which she claimed formed the United States. Rep. Greg Steube (Fla.) similarly promised that “people everywhere shall repent of immorality . . . and their rejection of God.”

Other lawmakers turned to politics, with Rep. Chris Smith (N.J.) calling abortion a “weapon of mass destruction” and complaining about the government funding Planned Parenthood, and Rep. Randy Weber (Texas) lamenting that we have legalized same-sex marriage and claiming that we had kicked God out of schools and replaced it with “drug-sniffing dogs, metal detectors, and armed police officers.”

Right Wing Watch reports that other members of Congress in attendance included Reps. Josh Brecheen (Okla.), Mark Alford (Mo.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Diana Harshbarger (Tenn.), Kevin Hern (Okla.), Gary Palmer (Ala.), Rick Allen (Ga.), Brandon Williams (N.Y.), Bob Good (Va.), Tracey Mann (Kan.), Glenn Grothman (Wis.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Mary Miller (Ill.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), and Sens. Katie Britt (Ala.) and James Lankford (Okla.).

FFRF reiterates that this event is a showcase of what happens when extremist lawmakers allow their personal religious beliefs to dictate their policy work, rather than upholding the crucial American value of ensuring a secular government.

Members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus recently documented the shocking and underreported extent of Speaker Johnson’s Christian nationalist history. Johnson’s involvement in this event should serve as a major wake-up call to Americans, who must demand their elected representatives defend true religious liberty by championing the fundamental American principle of secular governance.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members and several chapters across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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