Heretic on the Hill: Speaking of Christian Nationalists

The new Speaker of the House is really the complete package: a man-made climate change denier, stridently anti-LGBTQ rights, stridently anti-abortion, and conservative on pretty much every issue of any importance. One vital qualification for winning the race for Speaker is being an election denier, and here Speaker Mike Johnson shines. He is considered a leader of the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election by developing the arguments against certifying the results in the House.

If you haven’t heard of Johnson before you’re not alone. Republican Senators like Susan Collins were Googling him to find out who they have to work with now (I’m not making that up. And I have a good Susan Collins story. Come to our Lobby Day in March and I’ll tell you. It wasn’t my first time getting yelled at by a Senator.) Johnson’s lower profile and relatively short tenure were probably advantages in the competition for Speaker because he has not had the time or opportunity to make a lot of enemies. His far-right viewpoints had never been nationally exposed or vetted.

Now the really bad news: He’s A CHRISTIAN NATIONALIST. He is second in line to the presidency and HE’S A CHRISTIAN NATIONALIST. He has lied about Jefferson and Madison with, “The Founders wanted to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around.” He thinks America is great because it is the only country founded on a “religious statement of faith.” He introduced a bill to repeal the law that says church leaders cannot endorse or oppose political candidates.

During the 15 rounds of votes it took to elect his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, he and other House members knelt in prayer on the House floor, “repent[ing] to the Lord for our individual transgressions and those collectively as a legislative body.” He advocated for a Bible course that was offered in eight Louisiana school districts that even Bible scholars said was inaccurate. Last night on Fox he said if you want to know about his views, “go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.” I could go on because sadly there is a lot more.

Now the bright side, as best as I can do: Johnson is inexperienced at passing legislation and has not had a role in the House leadership so he’ll be learning on the job. A significant part of that job is traveling around the country raising money for Republicans and he’s shown no ability to do that because he’s never had to.

Additionally, there are 18 Republicans who represent districts that Joe Biden carried. Johnson only has a nine vote margin so five of those “moderates” can block extreme legislation, and maybe they will if they want to get reelected. Also, Johnson may not get the opportunity to lead the next round of election denial if the Democrats retake the House next fall; he would be out of a job before the day the electoral college votes are counted next time. There are a few good omens for the Democrats like court-ordered redistricting in several states.

More good news: there are many Democrats who will stand up to Christian Nationalism, like 26-year-old freshman Maxwell Frost of Florida who said in a House hearing this week, “(The Bible) warns us against people who would preach of a Christ that differs from the true Christ we learn about in the Bible. That’s exactly what Christian nationalism is doing.” And “It’s incumbent on us especially as Christians to be at the forefront of the fight to ensure that white nationalism and Christian nationalism don’t see the light of day.”

Here’s a letter we just sent to Congressman Owens of Utah after he complained about the 1963 Supreme Court decision that banned school prayer. We explained a few things. I expect we will be sending letters like this to Speaker Johnson in the next fifteen months and working with the House Democrats and a few Republicans to stand up to his view of the world and the Constitution.


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