January 31, 2024 Editor

The ‘Profound Influence’ of Christian Extremists on Mike Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson’s spiritual journey reveals ties to Christian fundamentalists who support slavery. Johnson’s office won’t say where he stands on that issue.

Roger Sollenberger

Jan. 31, 2024

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WN: Dominionism is at root a fundamental disavowal of Jesus’ life and ministry that models/calls for love of neighbour and enemy. A well-researched exposé is this article in Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Christian Dominionism and Violence.

If this kind of core White Nationalist Christian agenda reigns in religion’s insular circles, its will to power and domination outside those are profoundly dangerous to all humanity. In my book reviews (together) of Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism and The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada –Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence (former), and Marci McDonald (latter), I write:

The authors state that there is deep biblical rootedness in two contradictory strands of American culture, evident from the beginning.  “The first tradition is what we call zealous nationalism.  It seeks to redeem the world by destroying enemies (p. 8).”  They point out: “The phenomenon of zeal itself provides a fascinating access to the inner workings of our national psyche: the term itself, as we shall see, is the biblical and cultural counterpart of the Islamic term jihad (p. 8).”  Then, “Alongside zealous nationalism runs the tradition of prophetic realism.  It avoids taking the stances of complete innocence and selflessness.  It seeks to redeem the world for coexistence by impartial justice that claims no favoured status for individual nations (p. 8).”  No “American exceptionalism” in other words, a term first coined by French American cultural observer Alexis de Tocqueville.

The authors acknowledge that these two strands have coexisted in “uneasy wedlock” in earlier times, but in a time of worldwide militant jihad, zealous nationalism everywhere must be let die.  “Our conclusions are that prophetic realism alone should guide an effective response to terrorism and lead us to resolve zealous nationalist conflicts through submission to international law; and that the crusades inspired by zealous nationalism are inherently destructive, not only of the American prospect but of the world itself (p. 9).”

The article highlighted below does not pull any punches. Mike Johnson and a coterie of influencers/accomplices, is a direct threat to world freedom and peace. May God have mercy!

excerpts:

He has also argued fervently for a “biblically sanctioned government,” insisted the United States is a “Christian nation,” conflated his attorney’s practice with a “legal ministry,” and dismissed the “so-called ‘separation of church and state’” in a speech, fittingly, on the House floor.

If you want to know where Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson stands on any given political issue, he has a simple answer.

“Go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it—that’s my worldview,” Johnson told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview shortly after winning the speaker’s gavel in October. “That’s what I believe, and so I make no apologies for it.”

Johnson also gave the keynote at a dominionist conference, during which he claimed that his elevation to House Speaker was an act of God, who had told him personally to prepare for a “Red Sea moment.”
While Johnson’s folksy answer dodges the question, you can find clarity elsewhere. And the more clarity you get, the more you understand why Johnson may be evasive.

A Daily Beast investigation of his affiliations, influences, and public statements shows that Johnson’s worldview was forged in a radical theological tradition—the leaders and adherents of which have disputed some of the country’s most important constitutional principles, including amendments that freed the slaves and extended basic rights to all citizens.

That may sound dramatic, but Johnson’s connections to one particular strain of Christian fundamentalism elicit legitimate questions about the speaker’s biblical and constitutional interpretations. Those questions are all the more pressing given how open leaders of this movement have been about using anti-democratic means to achieve their desired religious ends—and given Johnson’s own prominent role in the GOP effort to overturn the 2020 election.

While Johnson’s legal endeavors to keep Donald Trump in office have been well documented, so, too, have his ties to that fundamentalist strain, known loosely as Christian dominionism.

NAR [New Apostolic Reformation] advocates for the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” which puts forth the idea that there are seven aspects of society that Christians need to take over and dominate: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government.

In a definitional sense, Christian dominionism is the belief that Christians should hold “dominion” over things like media, culture, and politics. In practice, it’s a radical theology—unifying a number of fundamentalist ideologies—advocating for biblical interpretations of law and society and hard-line views on issues like abortion and marriage.

More broadly, Christian dominionism seeks to establish the United States as a Christian nation governed by biblical law. And several leaders in the dominionist movement have had a profound impact on Johnson personally—by Johnson’s own admission.

Johnson, of course, is an election denier who promoted dubious legal theories in the wake of Trump’s defeat. He literally led the effort in Congress to use the courts to overturn the 2020 election.
In a 2016 interview, Johnson noted the seemingly peculiar distinction that the United States was not founded as a direct democracy, but as a constitutional republic. That republic, he said, was designed according to “biblical admonition” about what a “civil society should look like.” He has also argued fervently for a “biblically sanctioned government,” insisted the United States is a “Christian nation,” conflated his attorney’s practice with a “legal ministry,” and dismissed the “so-called ‘separation of church and state’” in a speech, fittingly, on the House floor.

In January, House Democrats in the Congressional Freethought Caucus published a white paper outlining many of Johnson’s longstanding ties to Christian nationalism and leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)—yet another radical strain of Christianity with direct ties to dominionism.

Religious experts all noted the degree of certainty with which Johnson and his fundamentalist peers have interpreted the Bible. They said that rigid interpretation was particularly troubling for officials entrusted with such power over law and policy. . . Adam Perez, professor of religious studies at Belmont University, told The Daily Beast that this interpretational architecture is, by its nature, authoritarian.

NAR advocates for the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” which puts forth the idea that there are seven aspects of society that Christians need to take over and dominate: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government.

Leaders like Johnson, [Adam Perez, professor of religious studies at Belmont University] said, often take a “simple, gentle, folksy approach” that rebrands and obscures the more unseemly views at the roots of the movement.
Johnson’s frequent appearances on [one of the leaders of NAR, pastor Jim] Garlow’s World Prayer Network, as Rolling Stone reported in November, have prompted Johnson to say things like:

  • “The only question is: Is God going to allow our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins?”
  • “The culture is so dark and depraved that it almost seems irredeemable.”
  • “We are a nation subservient to Him.”

“In Christian dominionism, the principle is that, unless a particular Old Testament decree or ruling has been explicitly denounced, denied, or rejected by either Jesus Christ or one or more of the apostles—particularly St. Paul—then that Old Testament reading is also applicable in a reconstructed America taken back in the name of Christ. That’s the theological legal principle they work from,” [James Aho, the Idaho State University religious scholar] said.

Not long after Johnson moved into the Speaker’s office, that flag appeared outside his door.

(From The Key to Mike Johnson’s Christian Extremism Hangs Outside His Office, by Bradley Onishi, Matthew D. Taylor, November 10, 2023): The flag — which Rolling Stone has confirmed hangs outside [Johnson’s] district office in the Cannon House Office Building —  is white with a simple evergreen tree in the center and the phrase “An Appeal to Heaven” at the top. Historically, this flag was a Revolutionary War banner, commissioned by George Washington as a naval flag for the colony turned state of Massachusetts. The quote “An Appeal to Heaven” was a slogan from that war, taken from a treatise by the philosopher John Locke. But in the past decade it has come to symbolize a die-hard vision of a hegemonically Christian America. (Emphasis added)

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Editor

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.