Mike Johnson, the new Republican speaker of the House, has a very dark view of America. He believes that the United States is “a completely amoral society” and that global “sinister” forces have a hold on some of its governmental policies.
Immediately after Johnson—a little known congressman from Louisiana whose most notable act to date has been leading the effort to block the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory—was elevated by the House GOP to be speaker, people started digging into his background and discovered that he was a far-right Christian fundamentalist who seeks to ban all abortions, who has called for getting rid of no-fault divorce, who has decried same-sex marriage, and who has compared homosexuality to pedophilia. He is a culture war extremist.
He also seems to hate America—at least, modern-day America.
In a 2016 sermon he preached at the Christian Center of Shreveport—while he was running for Congress—Johnson summed up his take on the United States. Standing before an American flag and an Israeli flag, Johnson delivered a 90-minute-long presentation in which he traced all present ills to the countercultural upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s that undermined “the foundations of religion and morality.” He ticked off the culprits: no-fault divorce, the sexual revolution, radical feminism, and legalized abortion. “Collectively as Americans,” he declared, “we began to get together in growing number and thumb our noses at the Creator and say we don’t believe that anymore.” The nation, he bemoaned, chose a path of “moral relativism.” He pronounced a harsh verdict: “We’re living in a completely amoral society.”
That was quite an indictment: the United States as a godless nation and a moral wreck. But Johnson meant it. He continued: “We’ve taught a whole generation, a couple of generations now, that there is no right or wrong, that it’s about the survival of the fittest, and you evolved from the primordial slime.” One result, he claimed, was school shootings. Yes, the teaching of evolution has led to these bloody massacres.
Johnson’s schtick, earnestly and passionately delivered, was Christian Fundamentalism 101. If the nation doesn’t abide by the Christian Bible—as the fundamentalists read it—all is lost. That’s why he has long been a crusader against gay rights. In 2003, he denounced the Supreme Court for overturning a Texas sodomy law, insisting the state had the right “to discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual conduct.” He based his stance on “millennia of moral teaching.” Elsewhere, he has cited the Bible for his opposition to same-sex marriage and has urged the criminalization of homosexuality.
With his wife, Kelly Johnson, as a co-host, Johnson has produced a podcast for the past two years. On the inaugural broadcast in March 2022, Kelly reported what for her was a disturbing poll: “Just 4 percent of Americans still adhere to a biblical world view.” Mike Johnson called that “a real shocking trend.” He remarked, “Even if you’re not a Christian, why should you care about a biblical worldview slipping away from us? Because it happens to be the foundational principle, the premise of the country.” In essence, the United States needs to stick to that “biblical worldview”—or else.
In that same podcast, Kelly warned of socialism within the United States. “Socialism always turns into communism at some point,” she declared. Her husband noted that what was fundamentally wrong with socialism is that it “begins with the idea that there is no God.” Such statements show that the Johnsons hold a rather narrow perspective on these matters. There are plenty of Western democracies where citizens support socialist programs and believe in Christianity, including the United States. (Is the United Kingdom’s National Health Service anti-God? Is Medicare or Social Security?)
But for Mike Johnson, the world is full of devilish and anti-Christian forces. On a podcast that featured him and Jordan Peterson, the Canadian conservative provocateur, the pair turned toward the topic of climate change. Johnson demeaned climate activists as irrational, and he contended that they “regarded the climate agenda as part of their religion.” He continued: “They’re not serving the people. They’re serving the planet…They have effectively replaced Father God with Mother Earth…They believe we owe fealty to Mother Earth. We are created by the Earth, they believe. So we must owe everything to the Earth itself.” He was saying climate advocates were anti-God.
Johnson took it further. Peterson, who depicted climate change as a hoax, suggested that there was “something more nefarious going on…even than we owe fealty to the planet. It’s something like we have to destroy capitalism at all cost.” Johnson agreed: “I think that’s right. They’re consistently irrational. At a local or regional level here in the US, for example, I think the religious zeal argument makes some sense. But I do think on the international level, the persons who are ultimately responsible for this, those who are pushing the agenda, the elites at the top of the food chain, so to speak, there is a more sinister agenda. Ultimately, you and I, I think, agree this is about government control. They will pursue that with religious fervor, of course, as well. And they seem to have gotten the entire civilized world bought in on this, at least the leaders of many of these nations bought in on this idea that we have to pursue this agenda at any cost.”
When Peterson said that he found it “too convenient” that the solution to climate change is to grant power to governments to use “compulsion” to implement “their desired policies,” Johnson replied, “That’s exactly right.” The congressman noted that going along with “this agenda” required people to sacrifice “their freedom.”
This was Alex Jones terrain. Johnson was agreeing with Peterson that climate change was a diabolical scheme cooked up by a cabal of global elites as nothing other than a power grab.
The above is just a dip in the pool of Johnson’s extremist stances. But taken together, this shows that Johnson, whose public demeanor is gentle and polite, is propelled by a rather grim and Manichean attitude toward the world. The United States is a moral hellhole. Those who embrace a biblical perspective, like he and Kelly do, are a small and decreasing minority—backs against the wall—fighting for the light in a time of darkness. And “sinister” conspirators at the global level are plotting against them.
Yet Johnson still has faith. In the podcasts with his wife, the pair constantly affirm that their truth is the only truth and that the fight for their truth will eventually be victorious. In his first speech after becoming speaker, Johnson proclaimed, “I believe that scripture, the Bible is very clear. That God is the one that raises up those in authority.” He must be interpreting his improbable rise to speakership as an act of God—and a step toward the “biblical” United States for which he has long yearned.