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Pull the fire alarm: The new House speaker dares to be a Christian

If Rep. Mike Johnson sparks outrage and sanctimony from the left, then so will all Bible-believing Christians

House Mike Johnson makes a statement to reporters at the Capitol on Oct. 26. Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

Pull the fire alarm: The new House speaker dares to be a Christian

The American project ended on Wednesday with the ascendency of Congressman Mike Johnson to speaker of the House.

That’s what the political left is telling the American people.

The carnival barkers who warn of so-called “Christian Nationalism” have fired up their presses to do what they always do—find yet additional justifications to ridicule and exclude conservative Christians (mind you, from the same crowd championing “inclusivity”). All this is done under the banner of “analysis,” and the “analysts” function as America’s self-appointed defenders of democracy.

The label “Christian Nationalist” has been invoked over and over again in the last few days to describe Speaker Johnson. Bill Maher compared Speaker Johnson’s prayer life to the same “voices” allegedly running through the Maine mass shooter’s head. So, it’s clear that our elites are very obviously reasonable and cool-headed in their analysis. It’s as though the Bat Signal alert has flickered, churning out the same talking points whenever conservative Christianity is brought into political discourse.

All this is supposedly valid because Speaker Johnson believes the Bible is God’s Word—and is unapologetic about his social views that include being for pro-life legislation, for the legal defenses of religious liberty, and for defending the natural family. Thus, expulsion, ridicule, and banishment are justified. Kristen Kobes Du Mez, never hesitant to paint evangelicals in the worst ways possible, linked advocacy for religious liberty during Johnson’s era to “a kind of desperation, urgency, ruthlessness in pursuing this agenda. Religious freedom was at the center of that.” Such framing is as despicable as it laughable.

Speaker Johnson could be saving puppies in his free time, but his Christian faith would still be tied to a whole parade of horribles meant to disqualify him. Critics also note his actions in challenging the 2020 election results. That’s an important subject worthy of a separate column, but critics want his social views and his beliefs about election integrity fused together in one big authoritarian stew.

If Speaker Johnson represents the danger of conservative Christianity to the media and academics, then let me remind you of something: You, a Bible-believing Christian, are just as much an object of liberal sanctimony, and therefore, liberal disdain, as Speaker Johnson is. It does not matter how polite or winsome one may be. To believe the Bible can bear on public life in today’s culture is to be met with derision and the gaze of those peering at animals in a zoo. Look, there they are, that bizarre species of religious humans that believes God has spoken not only in nature, but in a book!

All these plays are yet another example of secularism—and even progressive Christians—looking to delegitimize Biblical Christianity from the public square.

Just look at the religious slurs and invectives hurled at Speaker Johnson with no care for nuance. Despite his soft-spoken demeanor, Speaker Johnson is seen as a subversive. It is far easier for those who want to discredit Biblical Christianity and, in turn, Speaker Johnson, to paint with the broadest possible brush. All these plays are yet another example of secularism—and even progressive Christians—looking to delegitimize Biblical Christianity from the public square.

We should recognize the play, ignore it, and carry on with witnessing to the truth of Biblical Christianity as the only source for objective morality and human flourishing. Because the industry that sees itself as the vanguards of democratic order is interested in neither democracy nor order. By wishing to brand anyone who does not comply with social progressivism as some sort of anti-democratic subversive, they demonstrate their unwillingness to practice what they preach: democratic pluralism, a respect for viewpoint difference, or, well, any coherent concept of order, which first begins with truth. These voices, the same voices that have presided over long-term American decline, exist to tell you that they are better than the unwashed masses.

The efforts to ridicule Speaker Johnson’s faith stand in a long tradition of trying to sanitize American public life of any religious trappings. So, when a picture of Speaker Johnson praying with fellow members of Congress on the floor of the House of Representatives went viral, you can only imagine the howls at such offense as … praying. If this picture offends you, I have two replies: You have been more influenced by modern secularism than the American founding, and you need to read a history book. If you think Speaker Johnson praying in Congress is offensive, just wait until you hear about the various ways that the founders promoted Christianity through the federal government. The secular biases and historical illiteracy in this country are legion.

But, for a note of optimism, Congressman Johnson’s ascendency to speaker of the House should signal to secular America that the secular tsunami they believe has washed over our shores is still out at sea. Our views are apparently far more plausible—conceptually and numerically—than many in this nation are willing to acknowledge. Sorry, but the secularists and progressives can get over it. Bible-believing Christians aren’t going anywhere and we look to tell the world the truth regardless of whether it wants to hear it. That is what it means to be prophetic, after all.

In the face of such criticisms of Biblical Christianity, we would all do well to take the advice from Speaker Johnson himself, who when asked about his worldview replied, “well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it—that’s my worldview. That’s what I believe and so I make no apologies for it.” He means what he said.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.

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