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Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Sunday pushed back against criticism of his Christianity, arguing the people delivering such criticism “don’t know” him as he claims to be “unfazed” by it.
“I’ve been labeled all kinds of stuff, but these people don’t know me,” Johnson said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “Look, my family … it’s no fun to be misquoted and maligned and mocked of course, but we know that comes with the job, and we’re unfazed.”
Fox News anchor Shannon Bream pointed to an op-ed in The New York Times last week titled “The Embodiment of White Christian Nationalism in a Tailored Suit,” which described “Christian nationalism” as the “belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way.”
Asked by Bream if this is an accurate view of how the government should function, Johnson said, “No, I’m not even sure what the term means.”
“Look, there are entire industries built on taking down, tearing down people like me. I understand that comes with the territory, and we’re not fazed by it,” Johnson said. “But listen, what I believe in are the founding principles of the country: individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets, human dignity. Those are essential American principles.”
The op-ed, written by Thomas B. Edsall, argued Johnson’s election as Speaker “reflects the strength of white evangelical voters’ influence in the House Republican caucus.” Edsall claimed these voters are “determined to use the power of government to roll back the civil rights, women’s rights and sexual revolutions.”
Johnson’s religious affiliation was brought to the forefront following his election late last month. Johnson, a Christian conservative, brought his Bible to the rostrum before taking the oath of office, saying, “The Bible is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority … each of you, all of us,” per The Associated Press (AP).
Johnson on Sunday reiterated he is pro-life and a “Bible-believing Christian.”
“I believe in the sanctity of every single human life,” Johnson said. “So I come to Congress with the personally held convictions, but guess what? So do my 434 other colleagues in the House, everyone comes to Congress with their deeply held convictions.”
Johnson noted he has not brought any measures to the floor with regards to abortion, birth control or in vitro fertility treatments and is focused on government funding, handling “massive national security priorities,” crises around the globe and reforming “how Congress works.”
Prior to his time in the lower chamber, Johnson served as a professor at the government school of Liberty University in Virginia, a Christian school, according to the AP. From 2004 to 2012, Johnson served on the board of the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, where he advocated for Republicans’ opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights.