A photo of House Speaker Mike Johnson, with the words "Theocrat of the week" above him.

As new Preacher of the House takes office, Texas school districts reject chaplains


After rejecting several other candidates, congressional Republicans finally selected a new Speaker of the House: Louisiana’s Mike Johnson. While many media outlets reported him as a relative unknown, Johnson has been on the radar of the secular community for years, as he has seemingly dedicated his professional life to violating the rights of non-Christians and tearing down the separation between state and church.

For doubling down on his shameful career, Speaker Johnson is the FFRF Action Fund’s Theocrat of the Week.

The Action Fund’s Ryan Jayne detailed in his recent blog just a few of the “highlights” from Johnson’s tenure as a staunch opponent to true religious liberty. Johnson’s main concern seems to be homosexuality, as he fought against same-sex marriage rights in Congress, sponsored a federal version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, tried to criminalize homosexuality and even worked with an anti-gay “conversion therapy” group

This fanatic obsession with same-sex relations is unsurprising considering that Johnson worked as an attorney for extremist Christian organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, First Liberty Institute and Answers in Genesis. He worked hard to impose Christian privilege onto others, trampling the rights of those he did not agree with along the way. And then he was elected to Congress to advance the same agenda.

Johnson has declared his elevation to speaker to be the will of the Christian god himself, and claims that his stance on every public matter is determined by the bible. He openly wants to use his sudden ascension to power to inject his personal religious beliefs into the U.S. government, easily earning him the title of Theocrat of the Week.

Meanwhile, Texas school boards are wrestling with a recently passed law requiring them to consider whether to hire unlicensed religious chaplains in lieu of school counselors. While some of Texas’ more than 1,000 school districts have approved the hiring of chaplains — throwing the religious liberty of students out the window and inviting lawsuits — many reasonable school boards have soundly rejected the asinine invitation.

One such board is the Dallas School Board, which voted unanimously against hiring chaplains to act as school counselors. Dallas ISD parents can breathe a sigh of relief that these board members understand the basic concept that public schools must remain secular to respect the religious liberty of all students. 

For soundly rejecting this open invitation to violate students’ rights, the members of the Dallas School Board have earned the honor of being the FFRF Action Fund’s Secularists of the Week. The Action Fund will continue to work with our allies in Texas to push back against theocratic policies such as this, and to educate school board members on what they can do to stand up for the fundamental right of students to a secular public school system.

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. FFRF Action Fund serves as the advocacy arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has more than 40,000 members and works to keep religion out of government and educate the public about nontheism.