Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson doesn’t hide his religion or his belief in the primacy of his Christian beliefs. Quite the contrary. Here’s what he told Sean Hannity Thursday on Fox News: “Someone asked me today in the media, ‘People are curious, what does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview. That’s what I believe.’”
This came the day after he used his precious first remarks as speaker to tell the House and the country that he believes God has ordained him. “I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear: that God is the one who raises up those in authority…I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment in this time.’”
(He also introduced his “dedicated wife of 25 years” to the nation—and her absence at his acceptance speech—like this: “She's spent the last couple of weeks on her knees in prayer to the Lord. And, um, she's a little worn out.”)
In this speech, he highlighted British writer and Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton who, Johnson said, asserted that America is “the only nation in the world founded upon a creed,” which is “listed with almost theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.” That is, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”—“created,” Johnson emphasized, not born. He also noted that the motto, “In God We Trust,” added to the Capitol’s rotunda in 1962, was meant as a rebuke to the Soviet Union, Marxism and communism, “which begins with the premise that there is no God.”
Historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, who studies evangelical Christianity and politics, told Politico this week, “Christian supremacy and a particular type of conservative Christianity is at the heart of Johnson’s understanding of the Constitution and an understanding of our government.”
Johnson calls himself a “bible-believing Christian.” He has been called a Christian nationalist, convinced of the centrality of his faith in the founding of America, which he believes is under attack. In the podcast he produces with his wife, Kelly, he said, “What we found was often the Christian viewpoint is not given equal treatment and equal platform and equal chance. Very often religious viewpoints, specifically Christian viewpoints, are censored and silenced.”
In his rejection of abortion and homosexuality in a 2006 article, Johnson criticized “the earnest advocates of atheism and sexual perversion,” adding, “This sprawling alliance of anti-God enthusiasts has proven frighteningly efficient at remaking America in their own brutal, dehumanizing image.”
Surely, then, when asked about the mass shooting in Maine, this would be a chance for him to speak out against the most sacred commandment—Thou shalt not kill—and use his new divinely ordained power to speak to the need to address the availability of weapons that make murder possible on a quick and massive scale. Right? Nope.
“The problem is the human heart,” he told Hannity. “It’s not guns. It’s not the weapons. At the end of the day we have to protect the right of the citizens to protect themselves and that’s the Second Amendment…This is not the time to talk about legislation.”
Mike Johnson is now second in line to the presidency. I worry that he puts his religion to the forefront of his efforts to remake government and America. This is a man who, benefiting from a courtly demeanor, rejects a clear separation of church and state.
What do you think? What do you hear when the new House speaker says he’s ordained by God? What does it portend for his leadership and the road ahead?
As always, I look forward to reading your observations and the opportunity for this community to learn from each other. Please do be respectful in responding to each other.
Can you afford to chip in $50 a year or just $5 a month for a paid subscription? This sustains the work of America, America, keeps nearly all the content available for everyone, and gives you full access to the comments section for every post.
*Photo: Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson after the GOP unanimously elected him House speaker on Oct. 25. Photo by Tom Brenner/AFP via Getty Images)
What I hear him saying with that statement is "I am a Christian Nationalist and sooner or later I will tell you what you too can believe". I am so offended by the Republican Party putting this man, who feels the need to oppress women, in charge of anything, I can hardly breathe...I'm going on 80 years old and it's been a battle my own life and I'm tired of fighting it but I will NOT succumb to the GOP's backward thinking. They DO NOT get to set us back 200 years..
He is reading the Constitution from a position of total confirmation bias. And the Bible is NOT supposed to be any legislator's guide book: the CONSTITUTION IS THE GUIDE. His attitude is so transparently and blatantly seditious -- and he himself is guilty of an attempt to overthrow a free and fair election -- that his attempt to become Speaker of the House should have been laughed off the floor. But he's OK with Trump, so that's enough. I hope the January 6th prosecutions go on for years and that he and McCarthy and Gaetz and Jordan ALL wind up in jail for an illegal attempt to rip off people's right to vote and Joe Biden's fairly won presidency. And this country wasn't founded by Christians. The Founding Fathers, though most had Christian upbringings, were DEISTS who supported religious freedom, not some Christofascist state formed by people who cherry pick Constitutional clauses and Bible verses to stitch together a fabric shot through with threads of misogyny, sexual bigotry, racial supremacy and Francoist fascism. And if we don't stick together, we can lose everything. And as Joyce Vance says, "we're in this together"--or if we're not, we will not pass along democracy to following generations.
President Jefferson clearly stated in his Jan 1 1802 letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist Association that the First Amendment absolutely separates church and state.
This makes me sure Johnson’s claim that America is a biblical republic would horrify Jefferson.
It certainly horrifies me.
Johnson filled the void in the Republican cult that the former guy has vacated. If he succeeds in solidly uniting all their factions, then I fear the separation of church and state is in great peril. There will be no freedom from Christian religion for anyone. I am an atheist and my first response to his election was “god help us”.
Matt. 7.  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Johnson's pompous self-piety coupled with his bold demagoguery and self-righteousness make him one of the most ravenous dangerous (lethal) wolves in Congress. As an ordained Seminarian, I find such abuse and misuse of Holy Scripture to be toxic; and, anti-Christian. Johnson boldly proclaims his love of Scripture. Well, Mike, WHICH PARTS? WHICH SCRIPTURE? Oh, I get it. Like all miscreant evangelical Christians, Johnson pulls out those parts and passages that validate his self-righteous ideology and goals. Johson represents the WORST in American governance and the worst offender of the Christian Faith. He is sinister and very, very dangerous. We must keep close watch and vigilance on this draconian monster who was not "divined" into the Speakership.
Ironically, I view this Christian Nationalist alt-Right Mike Johnson as an ironically good thing. Good because, for too long, people like Speaker Johnson have operated in the shadows. Now his belief system, egreiously racist, sexist, and Constitionally dangereous, will get the broad coverage needed to stir to action more Americans to the voting booths to protect and defend democracy.
Because it is way past time to expsose the Republicans pervison of democracy.
I would triple the security around Biden and Harris immediately.
When I heard each of those statements I knew that Johnson was not a poser regarding his beliefs. He is a true believer who cannot be convinced otherwise. The great American philosopher, Eric Hoffer wrote in his book “The True Believer” (a must read for everyone to understand the Christian Nationalist and MAGA cults), “The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer is apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit the earth and the kingdom of heaven too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen will perish.”
I think those words perfectly describe Johnson.
Peace and be safe,
I am truly deeply disturbed by his ascendance to power. This is not healthy for our representative government. He represents a very vocal and authoritarian minority, not the general view of most Americans. His statements mean that he will not adhere to our constitution, but substitute his Christian Nationalist views for our system of governance.
About prayer: If it wears you out you’re doing it wrong.
In that the position of President of the United States is an even higher authority, by his logic, President Biden was also ordained by God and he (Johnson) should be exhorting everyone to follow him obediently.
Simply stated, his fanatical beliefs are not mine, and do not represent the beliefs of a majority of our country. His position of power and what he will choose to do terrify me.
They seem to forget that the colonists left England in part due to religious oppression.
I remember how people express the idea that trump is in some way also divine. This is serious and yes, we can not allow this to continue.
He claims to be a constitutional lawyer. Yet when he was pushing his joining the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election results that the republican caucus House lawyer advised him it was unconstitutional. He proceeded anyway.
The idea that any religion should think they are superior to other religions is abhorrent.
Even worse than I feared. This is the arrogance of Christian Nationalism in the flesh. If his god installs political leaders, I suppose that explains Hitler, Idi Amin, et al.
Everything he stands for is Un-American in the most fundamental way. Hope people in every precinct read the long list of his bonkers positions and are reminded that every Republican House member voted for this guy and his desire to implement a theocracy.
Ya-know I went and looked at that Bible that MAGA Mike referred to and couldn't find anything in it that required one to be a moron or a traitor. And yet ...
An old friend,now deceased, a Catholic priest, told me several times-never listen to anyone who tells you God has spoken to them. God has chosen them. God speaks through them.
I think that as soon as Mike starts enforcing his holier than thou policy on America , he will be soundly rejected, along with the rest of the traitors in congress! #resistfascism #gqptraitorstodemocracy
This man is worse than even Jordan who has no convictions at all. This man is akin to the Taliban but in a suit and espousing Christian beliefs. Obviously, the Ten Commandments mean nothing to the GOP
I would say to his face, "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
I hear another misogynist, racist, christofascist planning to destroy this country. Having lived in his state for over 20 years? There’s a reason I’m glad I left in 2003- it’s just not safe to be a non christian lesbian
As a non-christian, hella pro-choice, cis-woman, who believes in bodily autonomy, free will, and kindness, I hear a man who doesn't read (or believe in) history (American or otherwise) or science, who lives in cognitive dissonance, and who has no clue how to work with others and/or (truly) collaborate. And it frightens the $hit out of me; both for our internal systems, but also for how our country now appears to the rest of the world after this last month.
I am appreciative of someone under the age of 65 now holding the speaker position, but sweet baby Buddha, y'all - this is "best" the GQP have? I hate to succumb to the hyperbole yet, we really have to vote like our lives, culture, society depend on it in every election from here on out but especially in the next 18 months......
Frightening! A full-blown theocrat who does not, or cannot, accept the Constitution except in concepts he believes are biblical in nature, which they are obviously not. There has always been a clear separation of church and state. It's funny that the "originalists" in their view of the Constitution is that it should be followed without regard to the obvious changes that have occurred over the last 230 years, i.e. when the Second Amendment was written guaranteeing the right to bear arms, they had muzzleloaders that a trained person could maybe fire three or four rounds a minute rather than thousands of rounds a minute. It is interesting to hear that he is a Constitutional scholar. How can that be unless he only reads the Constitution in the context of what he wants to believe. This is not about all the people all the time but some of the people all the time, and this minority of views wants all of us to cave to the "Godly way" whatever that means. People, we got to get out the vote, and tell the MAGAs not to vote since the election is obviously rigged and their vote means nothing.
He calls some citizens perverted and ungodly. I say that MAGA Mike is projecting, which is typical of his brand of so-called religion. The kind of religion that tells others that if they don’t believe the same they are going to burn in Hell.
One word - hypocrite. I would compare him to the chief priests and Pharisees in the Gospels who are outwardly and ostentatiously religious, but do not really believe in what they do or say.
An excellent reply by James Talirico, Democratic Texas State Representative and seminarian from Austin:
In the beginning, man created god. And the death penalty. To quote George Carlin, "Aren't we versatile?"
Terrifying and disgusting. This guy really ticks me off so please excuse the ornery response.
So his beliefs are in the Bible? Which parts? IMO, you can find ‘justification’ for pretty much any stance you choose - loving or hateful, gentle or violent - in that book.
He claims the Christian viewpoint is not given equal platform? Are you kidding? No, Christian viewpoints are not censored or silenced - lots of us just DISAGREE WITH YOU. You want your viewpoint to be the ONLY one (who wants to silence whom??).
Focusing on the word ‘created’ in the Declaration of Independence and not the word ‘equal’ is missing the entire point. And BTW no Christianity or Jesus mentioned in the constitution.
And then he claims atheists are dehumanizing? He believes in Christian supremacy and says that homosexuals practice sexual perversion? But atheists are the ones dehumanizing??
Ok I’m done.
[I’ve been meaning to start a paid subscription to this Substack for a while. This post finally pushed me to it.]
He has the First Amendment right to believe in the religion of his choice as an American. However God was not involved in the writing of, or interpretation of, our Constitution.
It is great to have access to this community of like-minded rational people. I was going to add my thoughts but they would be redundant. You have all said it so well.
And yes, we all have to work to get out the vote. Even this 81 year old grandmother will be out there!
Thank you all and thank you Steven
The new House Speaker personifies the contradiction that is today's GOP: God and Guns.
Mike Johnson scares me.
I hear a smarmy unapologenic Christofascist fully intent on ramming his misogynistic homophobic beliefs and derivative legislation down all our throats. He doesn't ignore separation of church and state, he denies it's even in the constitution. Absolutely appalling he is in ANY position of power, much less a nationally and internationally influential one as speaker. We've seen what religious fanatics do when in power, why do you think it was called the Dark Ages? Our democracy is slipping from our grasp and if republicans aren't resoundingly voted out en masse in 2024 it will be gone, never to be seen again, certainly not in my lifetime.
He won't last long.
I fear for our children. Especially the female children.
For me I heard a man put a target on his back, by his fanatical twisted belief system...The Constitution, our way of life of nearly 250 years has been under attack from the bullhorn of religion for as long as I can remember..This quote rings so very true in this moment "Religion is the main source of hatred in this world" spoken by Christoppher hitchens..I also seem to recall in this moment the following quote.."A good defense is a great offense." It's time we take it to these fucking people in no uncertain terms..Reason and logic is not something they are willing to abide..And I am sick and tired of the term "Political Violence". It is a red herring..These people are traitors and seditionists..They are not being dealt with properly..
I hear that unless things turn around soon, we will be ruled by the American taliban.
Johnson’s Speakership, based on his strongly held religious beliefs and his being number two in succession to the President , is indeed concerning. Concerning if you believe in the separation of church and state. All citizens should be allowed to practice their religion no matter their faith, but our government should be run on consensus of its two parties and based on the greater good for all of our citizens. That should mean freedom of choice, whether it has to do with one’s own body or one’s choice of a mate or lifestyle that does not result in harm to their neighbors or nation.
I heard it's time to move to Crete. The glory that is Greece. The Adriatic beats the Dead Sea. And the Levant. What a difference a few time zones and continents make. And a place where democracy was born and whose spirit is still alive.
When I hear Mike Johnson give his bible thumping platitudes, I hear one thing, but I see another. I see a fraud.
For our country to live up to its creed, we must live our constitutional obligation of separation of church and state. Our First Amendment right to Freedom of Religion means that everyone has the right to practice any religion they choose, or to practice no religion at all. Understanding that as an American citizen, I must not impose my religious views on anyone else, if I am to follow our law of the land, The Constitution.
This push by Johnson, and others of a Theocracy driven mind, is unconstitutional, and can be argued, unChristian, in that it excludes people that don’t see things the way they do.
Johnson and his ilk are making a fraudulent appeal to those who want to cling to the rigid law of The Old Testament and not the more all encompassing 8 Beatitudes, or precepts of many other religions.
Even Jesus, Himself, was not tricked by the Pharisees, with his response about paying taxes, when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. I interpret that to mean that, for the benefit of the common good, it’s best to keep church and state separate.
I say, “e pluribus unum”, and God is not an exclusive God. If one does not believe in God, that must be respected. Those who call themselves believers must not impose their beliefs on others.
In the final analysis, though, it’s totally hypocritical to “talk the talk” and not “walk the walk”.
So many questions for him... here are two:
If God ordains those who ascend to leadership positions, then do you agree that Joe Biden’s ascendency to the Presidency is similarly ordained? How about Putin?
How can you say that the often stated Biblical imperative to care for immigrants and refugees is a “personal” vice governmental responsibility, while at the same time saying that gov’t is supposed to be deeply involved in a abortion decisions, even to the point of a total prohibition?
As a deeply faithful Christian, I find his certitude regarding his reading of the Bible insulting. His efforts to push his views into our secular gov’t is un-Constitutional. Both will draw no one closer to Christ. In fact, it will push millions away.
I've been a rabid atheist since I've been old enough to reason. I've understood the concept of separation of church and state for at least sixty years.
The GOP has normalized the entire Christian Nationalist "movement". In my lifetime I've had the pleasure of voting for, and appreciating the leadership of, Jimmy Carter. He is a great example of a man who has unshakeable faith as a Christian, but kept that faith personally rather than projecting it into his presidency. I've had the sad challenge of watching Ronald Reagan "lead" (make speeches and bad decisions wherever possible) from a bully pulpit.
Watching donald john trump (pussy grabber, and they like it) hold a bible upside down, confirmed for me everything I need to know about the GOP. The newly minted SoH, Mr. Johnson, is just the latest symptom of a diseased and dying political party.
I see a man who obviously believes that his God was incapable of stopping those thieving Democrats from stealing an election from his demigod. That doesn't seem to line up with his "worldview"!
I hear myself laughing.
What do I hear? I hear this: “I am better than you, and I alone can show you the way “. How sickening, beware of false prophets I was always told
I hear someone who is insane in a dangerous way
The horror and apprehension emanating from House Speaker Mike Johnson's recent statements are palpable. These comments reveal a zealous religious fervor that reminds many of a real-life “Handmaid's Tale.” By explicitly tying his entire worldview to the Bible, Johnson places religion, not democracy, as the guiding principle of his leadership.
Consider the words of James Madison, one of America’s founding fathers: “The civil government … functions with complete success … by the total separation of the Church from the State.” Madison's perspective underscores the importance of a boundary between religion and government, a boundary Johnson seems keen to erase.
Historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez's observation that “Christian supremacy and a particular type of conservative Christianity is at the heart of Johnson’s understanding of the Constitution and an understanding of our government,” is a startling revelation. It signifies an ideological deviation from the secular foundation upon which the U.S. was built.
In the famous words of Thomas Jefferson, there should be a "wall of separation between church and state." But Johnson, with his audacious statements, appears to be chipping away at that wall. When he emphasizes “created” over “born” and nods to the “In God We Trust” motto, he strategically intertwines his religious beliefs with governance.
His assertion about the censorship of Christian viewpoints is alarming. It implies that any opposition to his brand of Christian nationalism is a form of religious discrimination. This viewpoint can lead to policies that suppress dissenting voices and prioritize one religious perspective over all others.
Furthermore, his response to the Maine mass shooting by attributing the issue to the "human heart" instead of addressing the clear and present danger of gun availability is deeply concerning. It’s reminiscent of a quote from Susan B. Anthony: “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” Johnson's refusal to engage in meaningful legislation discussions on this pressing issue raises questions about his ability to separate personal beliefs from civic duty.
The concern is not merely about a man of faith holding office. Many leaders throughout history have been deeply religious. The crux of the matter is Johnson’s apparent belief that he's divinely ordained to lead, which may encourage him to position his religious beliefs above the democratic principles that have long been the bedrock of American governance. As the new House speaker who is second in line to the presidency, such an approach from Johnson is undeniably troubling.
When Johnson claims divine ordination, it raises a chilling question: Where does that place dissenters or those of other faiths in his vision of America? As we look to the future, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and ensure that the sanctity of the American democratic system remains untarnished by any form of extremism.
Mike Johnson revels in being a Christian Nationalist, and I would take it a step further to categorize him a christofascist because of his egregious misogynist and homophobic statements. That Johnson is second in line to the presidency is terrifying.
Even more horrifying is that the far-right's installation of Mike Johnson as Speaker of the House goes hand in hand with the goals of Project 2025—a coalition of far-right groups led by the Heritage Foundation. Their mission is to shape a Republican presidency founded on their extreme conservative "values." Many focus on the group's plans to expand presidential power over federal agencies, i.e., create an autocracy, while often overlooking the group's plans to install Christian governments at the state level. The Heritage Foundation's president published a book outlining their goal to “maintain [i.e., impose] a biblically based, social science–reinforced definition of marriage and family.” And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The Heritage Foundation published a notice this month announcing how strong they are today versus their launch in 1973. They now have 75 coalition partners, solidifying their plan to prepare a policy agenda for the next (Republican) president.
The lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation scores Johnson 90% on his voting record.
Whether or not Mike Johnson is a tool for the Heritage Foundation remains to be seen, but there can be no doubt that he has the theocratic goal for our government of eliminating the separation of church and state.
To end on a note of optimism, I do believe that as Johnson's beliefs are so contrary to what the majority of Americans want, that the GOP electing him Speaker will drive more Democrats to vote in 2024. I do believe the GOP will lose control of the House with this election, at which point Johnson will not be speaker at the time *our* president will be inaugurated.
Mike is right in line with the 8,000 year history of the self serving claim of "divine right" used by kings and pharaohs and warlords and conman preachers. I'm in power now so it must be "the will of God!"
A couple of disconnects here. The big one being that he's a leading acolyte for the most immoral, anti-Jesus, moronic politician in American history. How does being a follower of Christ (Love thy neighbor as thyself) fit with MAGA? "Let's torture children by separating them from their parents to punish them for migrating here." Would Jesus have approved?
The second disconnect is his opposition to the fundamental foundation of The United States of America. That the church does not control the government. How does Mike square his devotion to his form of religion with his oath to the Constitution? Just flush the Constitution like DJT did?
When John Kennedy was running for the presidency, so many Americans feared that as a Catholic, he would obey the Pope. He assured all that yes, he was a Catholic, but promised the nation that he would take the oath too uphold the Constitution including the separation of church and state. And that is what he did.
According to the Bible, only one was the chosen one, and it wasn't Mike Johnson. I see him as narcissistic like trump,& like so many, he wears his religion on his sleeve. The Bible actually says to pray, go into your room and close the door.Such people believe only what agrees with them in the Scriptures. Otherwise why would he have voted against every bill that would have uplifted the nation and answered the call of those in need? As for his wife being on her knees for the last two weeks praying for him, he wasn't even in the game the prior two weeks. His choice of words was not the best.
The nation was indeed first populated by those who wished to practice their religious beliefs, primarily
Christian although they showed little goodness and mercy to the natives.We can refer to Jefferson's Bible, we hear that Ron Reagan is not afraid of going to hell.We sing God Bless America and inscribe coins with In God We Trust. Religion is a personal thing, a private thing. Meanwhile, America now has an Ayatollah.
I have saved the entirety of this post w/comments because I believe it to be at the heart of the coming battle between those committed to the principles of Democracy and the twin slathering reptiles of Trump Fascism and Christi or Christo Fascism. Others should do the same.