For Mike Johnson, Religion Is at the Forefront of Politics and Policy

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By Ketrin Agustine

For Mike Johnson, Religion Is at the Forefront of Politics and Policy

The new House speaker has put his faith at the center of his political career, and aligned himself with a newer cohort of conservative Christianity that some describe as Christian nationalism.

In the moments before he was to face a vote on becoming speaker of the House this week, Representative Mike Johnson posted a photograph on social media of the inscription carved into marble atop the chamber’s rostrum: “In God We Trust.”

His colleagues celebrated his candidacy by circulating an image of him on bended knee praying for divine guidance with other lawmakers on the House floor.

And in his first speech from the chamber as speaker, Mr. Johnson cast his ascendance to the position second in line to the presidency in religious terms, saying, “I believe God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment.”

Mr. Johnson, a mild-mannered conservative Republican from Louisiana whose elevation to the speakership on Wednesday followed weeks of chaos, is known for placing his evangelical Christianity at the center of his political life and policy positions. Now, as the most powerful Republican in Washington, he is in a position to inject it squarely into the national political discourse, where he has argued for years that it belongs.

Mr. Johnson, 51, the son of a firefighter and the first in his family to attend college, has deep roots in the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. For years, Mr. Johnson and his wife, Kelly, a licensed pastoral counselor, belonged to First Bossier, whose pastor, Brad Jurkovich, is the spokesman for the Conservative Baptist Network, an organization working to move the denomination to the right.

Mr. Johnson also played a leading role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and has expressed skepticism about some definitions of the separation of church and state, placing himself in a newer cohort of conservative Christianity that aligns more closely with former President Donald J. Trump and that some describe as Christian nationalism.

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