Speaker Johnson’s Christian nationalist event demeans his secular position

House Speaker Mike Johnson

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is deeply disappointed that House Speaker Mike Johnson chose to speak at a Christian nationalist meeting this past Tuesday.

Johnson gave the keynote address at the National Association of Christian Lawmakers Awards Gala, which was held at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., and featured a number of speakers spewing hatred and bigotry in the name of their faith.

The theme of the evening was seemingly to celebrate a fellow Christian nationalist’s ascent to the speakership. Speakers preceding Johnson showed palpable excitement, as one after another alluded to the idea that God had lifted Johnson up and made him second in line to the presidency.

In addition to groveling over the one whom they believe was hand-chosen by their god to lead, members of the group proudly showcased their bigotry to an applauding crowd. Bishop E.W. Jackson, a National Association of Christian Lawmakers advisory board member and presidential candidate (who knew?), reveled in the opportunity to celebrate Johnson, thanking God for his appointment while boasting about his own hatred toward gay and trans individuals. He let it be known that he chooses not to use the word “gay” because to be gay “means to be happy, joyful, or carefree, and there is nothing joyful, happy or carefree about being a homosexual.” Mary Miller, a member of Congress representing Illinois’ 15th District, took the chance to simultaneously praise Johnson for being the “most conservative speaker we’ve ever had” and to push her promise that she would “stand up for the traditional family … as ordained by God.”

By the time Johnson got on stage to receive the American Patriot Award for Christian Honor and Courage, the crowd had heard every culture war battlecry that organizer Jason Rapert and his Christian nationalist posse could think of. Comparatively speaking, Johnson’s remarks to the crowd were unremarkable. He took the time to, of course, regurgitate the talking points that he had made from the speaker’s dais, again stating that our rights come from God, not government. Johnson tried to back that up by noting that the Declaration of Independence says our rights are endowed by “God, our creator.” However, the speaker, apparently a constitutional attorney, is wrong: The Declaration of Independence does not mention God. In fact, the fact that it mentions a creator and not “God” is indicative of the Founders’ intention for this not to be a Christian nation. This language was purposeful and largely written by deists who would adamantly reject the Christian nationalist view that Johnson and the rest of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers members hold.

The fact that the speaker of the House of Representatives attended this extremist event is seriously troubling. Jason Rapert and the National Association of Christian Lawmakers consistently push their version of an un-American theocracy: From their misguided and counterscientific belief that life begins at conception, to their stance on same-sex marriage, all the way down to their ideas of what students should and should not read on their own free time (can we add the bible to that list?), Rapert and his Christian nationalist outfit continue to peddle outdated ideas that are demonstrably against the will of the people. For a speaker of the U.S. House to attend this event is unprecedented and deeply troubling, to say the least.

When Johnson took the speaker’s gavel, the world began to get a glimpse of who he actually is — and the Christian nationalists are thrilled to have gotten their guy. Much like conservative evangelicals propped up a puppet president in Donald Trump, they’ve done the same to a previously unknown Mike Johnson. In his remarks introducing Johnson, Louisiana state Sen. Mark Abraham noted that “it is a meteoric rise from the Louisiana Statehouse to the speaker of the House of the United States of America … and from all that, we know that God’s hand is upon him.” It is a meteoric rise indeed — one that is a result not of a god, however, but of opportunistic theocrats seeking to insert their will.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation will not stand idly by as leaders in Congress, and theocrats across the country, attempt to pervert our secular democracy.

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Freedom From Religion Foundation

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