Mike Johnson is the first person to become speaker of the House who can be fairly described as a Christian nationalist, a major development in American history in and of itself. Equally important, however, his ascension reflects the strength of white evangelical voters’ influence in the House Republican caucus, voters who are determined to use the power of government to roll back the civil rights, women’s rights and sexual revolutions.
“Johnson is a clear rebuttal to the overall liberal societal drift that’s happening in the United States,” Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University, wrote by email in response to my query. “His views are far out of step with the average American and even with a significant number of Republicans.”
“Yet, he was chosen as speaker,” continued Burge, who is also a pastor in the American Baptist Church. “If anything, it shows us that white evangelicals still have a very strong hold on the modern Republican Party. They are losing overall market share in the larger culture, but they are certainly taking on an outsized role in Republican politics.”
Burge provided The Times with data on the changing religious composition of the Republican electorate. In the 1970s, mainline Protestants dominated at 46 percent, compared with evangelical Protestants at 24 percent and Catholics at 19 percent. By the decade of the 2010s, evangelical Protestants were a commanding 38 percent of Republicans, mainline Protestants had fallen to 17 percent, and Catholics had grown to 25 percent.
Robert Jones, the president and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute, described Johnson in an email as “the embodiment of white Christian nationalism in a tailored suit.” [Continue reading…]