The Separation of Church and State

Mike Johnson’s efforts to cover up his past are doomed to fail

  Rob Boston

When U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) became speaker of the House of Representatives, Americans United was quick to expose his longstanding ties to Christian Nationalism.

Since then, a flood of stories has emerged focusing on Johnson’s extreme views – and many of them quote AU President and CEO Rachel Laser and incorporate AU’s research. This CNN story, for example, discusses how Johnson wants to overturn Supreme Court precedents protecting the right to contraception and LGBTQ+ rights. This Huffington Post article outlines how Johnson spent years trying to shoehorn fundamentalist Christianity into America’s public schools.

There are others, including this story from Newsweek, a second piece from Huffington Post about Johnson’s links to creationist groups and this alarming story from Edge Media Network.

A history of extremism

Johnson’s extreme views are being exposed to the harsh light of scrutiny. So, what’s he going to do about that? Increasingly, Johnson and his allies are trying to scrub some of this material from the web.

For example, some sermons Johnson delivered at a Louisiana church in 2015 during which he insisted that the United States was founded to be a “Christian nation” and cited fake quotes by early political leaders were scrubbed from the church’s website. But the Rev. Brian Kaylor, editor of Word&Way and a member of AU’s Board of Trustees, saved them.

Similarly, the website for a Christian counseling service run by Johnson’s wife that was studded with anti-LGBTQ+ content has been pulled down but remains available on sites that archive the internet, and 69 episodes of a podcast Johnson and his wife produced have been removed from his personal website but are still available on streaming services.

‘Did I say that?’

Johnson is also trying to employ selective amnesia. Johnson has a long history of making statements attacking LGBTQ+ people. As the website LGBTQ Nation reported, he once predicted that marriage equality would lead to “chaos and sexual anarchy” and “place our entire democratic system in jeopardy by eroding its foundation.” Johnson also asserted that allowing two individuals of the same gender to marry would spur pedophiles to seek legal protection and would encourage people to marry animals. He has stated, “Homosexual relationships are inherently unnatural … ultimately harmful and costly for everyone” and has accused LGBTQ+ people of having “abnormal lifestyles.”

Asked about these views by Sean Hannity of Fox News, Johnson replied, “I don’t even remember some of [those statements].”

Nice try, but it won’t work. Johnson said these things, and we have the evidence. The statements are in print, on tape and on the web. If Johnson would like to apologize for these hateful comments, we’d welcome that – but pretending that they never happened isn’t going to cut it.

Down the memory hole

Once something gets a life in cyberspace, it can be awfully difficult to drop it down the memory hole. Americans United will continue to expose Johnson’s ties to Christian Nationalism, and his attempts to whitewash his past will fail.

A towering mountain of evidence exposes Johnson’s extreme views. It’s simply too much to cover up.

P.S. Your donations help AU expose Johnson and the Shadow Network of Christian Nationalists working to destroy separation of church and state. A generous group of donors who offered to match gifts made during Giving Tuesday have extended the deadline until midnight tonight. This means there’s still time for you to give and see your donation doubled.

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