Katelyn Fossett: I want to talk to you a little about Mike Johnson’s worldview and the belief system that has shaped him.
Kristin Kobes Du Mez: He is incredibly standard in terms of being a right-wing, white evangelical Christian nationalist.
Fossett: Tell me a little more about what makes someone a Christian nationalist. Does he use that phrase to describe himself?
Du Mez: I don’t know that he uses that. But I feel comfortable applying that; it’s not in a pejorative way. It’s simply descriptive. As he understands it, this country was founded as a Christian nation. And he stands in a long tradition of conservative white evangelicals, particularly inside the Southern Baptist Convention, who have a distinct understanding of what that means. And this is where evangelical author and activist David Barton comes in.
Johnson has said that Barton’s ideas and teachings have been extremely influential on him, and that is essentially rooting him in this longer tradition of Christian nationalism. Christian nationalism essentially posits the idea that America is founded on God’s laws, and that the Constitution is a reflection of God’s laws. Therefore, any interpretation of the Constitution must align with Christian nationalists’ understanding of God’s laws. Freedom for them means freedom to obey God’s law, not freedom to do what you want. So really, Christian supremacy and a particular type of conservative Christianity is at the heart of Johnson’s understanding of the Constitution and an understanding of our government.
You’ll see this in some of his speeches. In his speech on Wednesday, he incorporated a G.K. Chesterton quote about the U.S. being based on a creed. And he said the American creed is “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”
But he goes much deeper than that, and really roots that in what he would call a biblical worldview: The core principles of our nation reflect these biblical truths and biblical principles. He has gone on record saying things like, for him, this biblical worldview means that all authority comes from God and that there are distinct realms of God-ordained authority, and that is the family, the church and the government.
Now, all this authority, of course, is under this broader understanding of God-given authority. So it’s not the right of any parents to decide what’s best for their kids; it’s the right of parents to decide what’s best for their kids in alignment with his understanding of biblical law. Same thing with the church’s role: It is to spread Christianity but also to care for the poor. That’s not the government’s job.
And then the government’s job is to support this understanding of authority and to align the country with God’s laws. [Continue reading…]