After weeks of turmoil, House Republicans selected Rep. Mike Johnson as the new House Speaker on October 25. Johnson, a congressman from Louisiana and an evangelical Christian, expressed his belief that his election was a divine appointment, citing the Bible’s teachings on God’s role in raising leaders to authority. He referenced religious symbols in his speech, such as the motto “In God We Trust” and the use of “Creator” in the Declaration of Independence. Johnson also emphasized the importance of hope and cited a biblical passage from Romans 5:3-4.
Johnson’s strong ties to Baptist churches and his association with the conservative Christian legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom were noted. His past writings critical of homosexuality and his support for conservative Christian perspectives were mentioned, as was his podcast with his wife, Kelly, aimed at discussing current events from a Christian standpoint.
Additionally, Speaker Johnson has consistently rejected the prevailing interpretations of the separation of church and state, arguing that the founders intended to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around.
Brent Leatherwood, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, celebrated Johnson’s victory and commended his dedication to Southern Baptist principles and the nation.
However, Johnson’s views are likely to clash with those of many colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle, particularly in relation to Christian nationalism, as illustrated in a House Subcommittee on National Security hearing.
Furthermore, Johnson’s ties to former President Donald Trump were noted, as he supported efforts to challenge the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, which culminated in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Johnson’s ascent to the speakership followed a period of upheaval in the House and featured several references to religious texts and faith in the pursuit of leadership positions.
Religion News Service reports:
“I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear: that God is the one who raises up those in authority,” Johnson said in his first speech after being elected speaker in a 220-209 vote. “He raised up each of you. All of us.”
Johnson, an evangelical Christian, peppered his remarks with religious references. He recounted the history of how the motto “In God We Trust” was placed in the House chamber — a rebuke of communism, which many associated with atheism — and highlighted the Declaration of Independence’s use of “Creator.” He also noted the presence of Moses on the wall of the House chamber.
“Through adversity, it makes you stronger,” he said, referencing the three-week period in October that it took Republicans to elect a new speaker to replace the ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
In a later speech on the Capitol steps, Johnson framed his leadership goals by citing Romans 5:3-4.
“I was reminded of the Scripture that says ‘Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope,’” he said. “What we need in this country is more hope.”
Johnson has been tied to multiple Baptist churches over the years and currently attends Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Baptist Message. He is also a former lawyer and communications staffer with the Alliance Defense Fund, which later became known as Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal firm.
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