Congressional Freethought Caucus laudably exposes Speaker Johnson’s Christian nationalist agenda

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The FFRF Action Fund praises the Congressional Freethought Caucus for its just-released report detailing House Speaker Mike Johnson’s deep connections with Christian nationalism. 

The report of the caucus, co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin, is a critical step in safeguarding the constitutional principle of separation of church and state at the federal level. Johnson’s advocacy for integrating far-right Christian views into government policy is extensively documented in the 11-page white paper. His efforts to undermine constitutional freedoms, weaken the separation of church and state, and impose radical religious views on citizens are antithetical to our nation’s foundational values. The report provides troubling insights into Johnson’s pivotal attempts with other Christian extremists to overturn the 2020 presidential election, his association with the extremist New Apostolic Reformation movement and his promotion of repressive policies against various groups.

“Speaker Johnson is deeply connected in political practice and philosophy to Christian nationalism, more so than any other speaker in American history,” notes the report. “He has spent decades working to deny, reject, and undermine the constitutional separation of church and state, including trafficking in fake histories about our nation’s founding and distorting the meaning of the Establishment Clause.” 

The Congressional Freethought Caucus is careful to express respect for the right of Johnson and every American to freely practice their faith as guaranteed by the First Amendment, but it blasts Johnson’s public record on the religious freedom of Americans. The report details how Johnson has expressed views that directly conflict with established interpretations of the First Amendment, particularly the Establishment Clause, which bars any government endorsement of religion. His legal and legislative career has been dedicated to promoting evangelical Christianity through public resources, including public education. 

The report boldly declares that Johnson “has spent much of his career trying to impose sectarian-based moral codes on others.” Johnson has a long record of opposing and undermining civil rights and liberties in the name of religion, including LGBTQ-plus and abortion rights, and even opposes no-fault divorce. And, adds the report, “he has collaborated closely with hate groups and Christian nationalist extremists to advance a theocratic agenda by transforming our pluralist constitutional republic into a ‘biblically sanctioned government.’”

Heavily sourced, the report summarizes Johnson’s many Christian nationalist pronouncements, how he has described himself as being “called to a legal ministry,” and has been on the “front lines of the culture war defending … biblical values.” Johnson has repeatedly spoken about creating a “biblically sanctioned government,” called the United States “a Christian nation” and is co-leading on a bill to repeal the Johnson Amendment preventing nonprofits from using their tax-exempt funds to engage in partisan politics.

The report was inspired by the fact that the Congressional Freethought Caucus invited Johnson to engage in a dialog about protecting religious freedom, but was ignored. The caucus is made up of 20 members of Congress reflecting the religious diversity of America. The investigation includes a number of key questions the caucus is asking the speaker to respond to. Among those yet unanswered questions:

  • What does his oft-stated goal of creating a “biblically sanctioned government” actually mean?
  • Does he believe that the bible, not the Constitution, functions as the supreme law of the United States?
  • Will he continue to advocate for displaying sectarian iconography in public places, even including the U.S. Capitol?
  • Does he agree with the “great replacement” theory?

“The Congressional Freethought Caucus’ revelations about Johnson’s ties to Christian nationalism underscore the urgent need to defend secular governance,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Action Fund president. “His record stands in stark contrast to the principles of religious freedom and secularism enshrined in our Constitution. We commend Reps. Huffman and Raskin and the caucus for their diligent work in bringing these issues to light.”

The FFRF Action Fund remains committed to its mission of legislatively promoting nontheism and defending the constitutional separation between religion and government. The report on Speaker Mike Johnson’s ties to Christian Nationalism is a reminder of the ongoing struggle to protect these fundamental American values.

FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.