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Mike Johnson – Religion Is at the Forefront of Politics and Policy

newly selected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-L A )
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By: Annie Karni, Ruth Graham and Steve Eder – nytimes.com – October 27, 2023

In the moments before he was to face a vote on becoming speaker of the House this week, Representative Mike Johnsonposted a photograph on social media of the inscription carved into marble atop the chamber’s rostrum: “In God We Trust.”

His colleagues celebrated his candidacy by circulating an image of him on bended knee praying for divine guidance withother lawmakers on the House floor.

And in his first speech from the chamber as speaker, Mr. Johnson cast his ascendance to the position second in line to thepresidency in religious terms, saying, “I believe God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for thisspecific moment.”

Mr. Johnson, a mild-mannered conservative Republican from Louisiana whose elevation to the speakership on Wednesdayfollowed weeks of chaos, is known for placing his evangelical Christianity at the center of his political life and policypositions. Now, as the most powerful Republican in Washington, he is in a position to inject it squarely into the nationalpolitical discourse, where he has argued for years that it belongs.

Mr. Johnson, 51, the son of a firefighter and the first in his family to attend college, has deep roots in the Southern BaptistConvention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. For years, Mr. Johnson and his wife, Kelly, a licensed pastoralcounselor, belonged to First Bossier, whose pastor, Brad Jurkovich, is the spokesman for the Conservative Baptist Network,an organization working to move the denomination to the right.

Mr. Johnson also played a leading role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and has expressedskepticism about some definitions of the separation of church and state, placing himself in a newer cohort of conservativeChristianity that aligns more closely with former President Donald J. Trump and that some describe as Christiannationalism.

“Speaker Johnson really does provide a near-perfect example of all the different elements of Christian nationalism,” saidAndrew Whitehead, a sociologist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He said those included insisting ontraditionalist family structures, “being comfortable with authoritarian social control and doing away with democraticvalues.”

Mr. Johnson declined an interview request and did not respond to a request for comment about whether he considers himselfa Christian nationalist. But the little-known speaker of the House has made clear that his faith is the most important thing toknow about him, and in previous interviews, he has said he believes “the founders wanted to protect the church from anencroaching state, not the other way around.”

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Source: For Mike Johnson, Religion Is at the Forefront of Politics and Policy – The New York Times