The Broken Way that Evangelicals Approach Political Science: Mike Johnson’s 1986 Republican Congressional Query: “I Wanna Be Fascist?”
Reagan was a political figure who anticipated Trump. He had no real personal history in the church but he made a show of his reverence for religious conservatives. In 1980, Reagan asked delegates at the Republican National Convention to bow their heads and pray as he accepted their nomination for president. It may have presaged Speaker Johnson leading his flock in prayer on the day he was inaugurated.
There are two moments from Mike Johnson’s early days as speaker of the House that almost perfectly encapsulate the broken way that so many Republican evangelicals approach politics. The first occurred just after the House elected Johnson. Johnson was asked about his efforts to overturn the election. Republican colleagues started shouting at her before she could finish. Johnson simply shook his head. He said that the query was not worth his time. It was the kind of conduct that got Florida Republican Matt Gaetz to call Mike Johnson a fascist.
A third of all American voters are comprised of the three categories of “nothing in particular”, “atheist” and “optimism”. Smaller segments identify as Anglo Catholic (14%) nonwhite Protestant (12%) and Hispanic Catholic (5%).
The defeat of Rep. Kevin McCarthy to the White House: Trump reveals the truth about a “great” congressman he once endorsed
Trump endorsed Jim Jordan, an Ohio congressman who would not be able to get a majority of votes in the House to oust McCarthy. Jordan had been perhaps the fiercest defender of the former president during Trump’s first impeachment proceeding in 2019.
Those in conservative circles are still debating Trump’s role in the rebellion that ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy in early October. He called McCarthy his “Kevin” at times, and had a relationship with him as president. He was unhappy to see McCarthy and the Democrats come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling in the spring and again on the government shutdown deadline this fall. But the anger that boiled over and forced McCarthy out came from within his own ranks of House members.
Beyond that, there is the eye-opening fact that these utterly different personalities — and the conservative Christian movement itself — all owe their current status and power to their cooperation with each other.
Trump’s backing was a big plus for Jordan, who had not been part of the leadership before. Even though the endorsement was important, it was not enough. The fear among Republicans in swing-districts was that Jordan’s abrasiveness could ruin their reelection prospects.
When Jordan failed, the House Republicans entertained a new batch of candidates for their nomination, and among them, Johnson initially got just 32 votes out of more than 200. The field shrank to just Johnson and Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the House majority whip and next on the leadership ladder. Emmer prevailed 117 to 97.
Trump had made it clear earlier that Emmer was not his pick, calling him “totally out of touch with Republican voters” and a “globalist RINO.” The Minnesotan had voted to certify the results of the election in 2020, apparently making him anathema to Trump and therefore to many House Republicans. Without even taking the issue to the floor, Emmer withdrew.
Johnson, a junior member of leadership little known outside Louisiana but a champion of Trump’s false claims of election fraud in 2020, suddenly stood tall. Trump came out for him, clearing that hurdle. The choice of his party confreres was Johnson, or who knowswho and when. They were done with their preferences after three weeks.
Trump erupted with predictions of success for Johnson on social media. He will certainly be the most pro-Trump speaker. He is probably the most public about his religiosity in the last generation. The first photos to go viral after his selection showed him leading the House GOP in prayer.
When he was a member of the house, he supported a Texas lawsuit, which argued the votes of four other states should be thrown out because they were easier to vote in. The suit got Trump’s attention after it was rejected by the Supreme Court.
He is an activist against abortion and same-sex marriage and also an activist against the rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual community.
What does Mike Johnson think about anything under the sun? An interview with Pat Robertson, president of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and the founding father of the Moral Majority
By elevating Johnson to the uniquely pivotal speakership, Republicans have once again committed themselves to a viewpoint and an agenda deeply rooted in the nation’s past. They recommit themselves to the parts of the country where that past is celebrated and liked most, and to those voters who are most likely to do so.
They have also once again proven that no one has more say in the House than Trump — not the speaker or the leading candidate for speaker, and not the candidate with the most support among his colleagues.
Under Carter, the IRS started to enforce rules regarding tax-exempt private schools. These schools had their roots in resistance to the 1954 Brown v. Board decision in the Supreme Court that ended official segregation in public schools.
That mobilized a cadre of parents and activists and coincided with the emergence of several new political organizations such as the Moral Majority, which was founded during the Carter years (1979) by Jerry Falwell Sr., who also founded Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. Johnson is a paid faculty member at Liberty who was in the House.
It was also an era when “televangelists” were acquainting more Americans with white evangelicalism. Best known among them was Marion “Pat” Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network. His “Christian Coalition of America” was founded in 1987 and soon turned over to a young protégé named Ralph Reed.
The Christian coalition became a leading organizer of votes for conservative Republicans under Reed’s leadership. The group had such impact on the 1994 elections that gave the GOP control of Congress that Time magazine featured the 33-year-old Reed on its cover with the headline “The Right Hand of God.”
The second moment came in his first extended interview as speaker, when Johnson shared the basis of his political philosophy with Sean Hannity of Fox News: “Someone asked me today in the media, they said, ‘It’s curious, people are curious. What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ I told them to pick up a Bible off the shelf and read it. That’s my opinion.
That quote is less illuminating than many people think. The Bible has a lot to say about many subjects but it is not always clear how to interpret it. (It says nothing, for example, about the proper level of funding for the I.R.S., Johnson’s first substantive foray into policy as speaker.) I am aware of democrats that have political philosophy in the Bible. I look to Scripture to guide my mind and Heart, as I am a Never Trump evangelical conservative.
We worked at the same Christian law firm and both of us share similar religious convictions. We worked in different states and different practice groups (I focused on academic freedom), but we both defended religious liberty, and we’d most likely both say much the same things about, say, the inerrancy of Scripture. We have taken different political paths.