In 2016, Kelly Johnson, the wife of newly elevated Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, sponsored a seminar called “Answers for Our Times: Government, Culture, and Christianity.” Mrs Johnson is a Christian counsellor and anti-abortion activist who calls herself a “leader in the pro-family movement.” She and her husband travelled the evangelical circuit giving such seminars as part of their self-anointed “ministry.”
In the course of one the 2016 seminars, Mike Johnson gave a talk in which he proposed mandatory religious exams for all American political candidates. “I want to know,” Johnson said, “what you think about the Christian heritage of this country. I want to know what you think about God’s design for this society. Have you even thought about that? … We have too many people in government who haven’t even thought about this stuff.”
Perhaps the reason we have “too many people in government who haven’t even thought about this stuff” has something to do with Article VI clause 3 of the United States Constitution. Article VI clause 3 has this to say about that: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Is Mike Johnson aware of this clause? Possibly. The point is that the new Speaker of the House of Representatives doesn’t care about it. He clearly has his own ideas about how America’s business should be conducted. It should be conducted along strict evangelical biblical principles. In short, Mike Johnson is a deadly dangerous christofascist looney. And people like him are infiltrating the Republican Party. They are becoming the Republican Party.
I can tell you from personal experience what these people are like. I was on the ground, so to speak, when they were being formed. When I was an evangelical back in the early 70s to early 80s I encountered people just like Mike Johnson who firmly believed that America’s biggest problem was that there weren’t enough evangelical Christians in public office. They believed that the problem with the government was that it wasn’t run according to intolerant biblical strictures.
I will tell you this about such people. They are scary. There is always something deeply wrong with them. Always. I never met one that didn’t have some kind of major unpleasant weirdness about them. One of them routinely beat his wife. Another turned out to be a paedophile. One that I’m still in touch with, who was of the less fanatical and more intellectual stripe, is a raving, full blown MAGA nutjob today. None of them are ever normal.
Now I have no certain idea if what follows is true or not, brothers and sisters, but I’m telling you now that I would not be the least bit surprised if it was. There is a report coming out of New Orleans that a certain male prostitute has come forward claiming he used to be Mike Johnson’s gay lover.
This would be in keeping with the classic Christian reaction formation hypocrisy I’ve seen time and time again in the extreme end of the evangelical movement. It is a form of self-loathing, where some practising Christians preach the loudest against that which is strongest in themselves. Mike Johnson is a strident homophobe, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be a kind of self-loathing revelation that he’s also gay. Now there’s nothing wrong with that except when destructive hypocrisy comes to the fore as the result of blatant hypocrisy.
It turns out that the new Speaker has no bank account. Nobody knows yet what that’s all about. But he and his wife have committed considerable resources into hormonal “conversion therapy” to keep youngsters from “becoming” homosexual. Maybe he’s experimenting on them so he can find a cure for himself? Who knows?
Whatever the case, these people are deeply unstable and dangerous. I doubt that Mike Johnson per se is dangerous. I think his Speakership, wracked with scandal and weirdness as it has been already so far, is pretty much stillborn. But it’s a symptom of what’s coming. It’s a symptom of how the moral void of MAGA Republicanism is being filled up by evangelical lunatics. And they’re coming for your country today.
That’s why the Republican Party must go. All the former relatively harmless Republicans of the past — the Adam Kinzingers and Liz Cheneys — are abandoning ship and being quickly replaced by Greenes and Boeberts and Johnsons. Mike Johnson is an example of how they’re lurking in reserve, on the “back benches,” ready to come oozing out of the woodwork to further destroy America’s hard won tradition of civil rights. It’s a kind of political “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” And it must be stopped. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.