House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has not shied away from letting his Christian faith be a beacon on Capitol Hill. This week, he proclaimed on national television that “everybody’s vibrant expression of faith” is needed “because it’s such an important part of who we are as a nation.”
Johnson made that statement on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” when asked about his decision to pray on the floor of the House after being sworn in as speaker.
“Our deep religious heritage and tradition is a big part of what it means to be an American. When our founders set this system up they wanted a vibrant expression of faith in the public square because they believed that a general moral consensus in virtue was necessary to maintain this grand experiment in self-governance that we created,” he expressed.
Johnson continued, “A government of, by and for the people. We don’t have a king in charge, we don’t have a middle man so we’ve got to have morality amongst us so that we have accountability. And so, they wanted faith to be a big part of that.”
The 56th speaker of the House went on to explain that the modern argument for “separation of church and state” isn’t what the founders intended in the U.S. Constitution.
“The separation of church and state is a misnomer,” Johnson said.
“People misunderstand it,” he continued. “Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote. It’s not in the Constitution. And what he was explaining is they did not want the government to encroach upon the church — not that they didn’t want principles of faith to have influence on our public life. It’s exactly the opposite.”
A lesson in civic history and faith to an interviewer who clearly needed it https://t.co/YcuSPAtqx4
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) November 16, 2023
Johnson was referring to Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, written in 1802 when he served as president of the United States.
In his letter, Jefferson said Congress “should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.'”
However, the words “separation of Church and State” are not technically found in the Constitution. That was just Jefferson’s personal idea. As the Supreme Court has ruled in recent years, the First Amendment to the Constitution was not meant to keep citizens from expressing their religious beliefs in the public square.
“Washington said, ‘Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion, and morality are indispensable supports.’ And John Adams came next and he said, ‘Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate of a government of any other,'” Johnson further explained.
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He closed saying, “They knew that it would be important to maintain our system. And that’s why I think we need more of that. Not an establishment of any national religion but we need everybody’s vibrant expression of faith because it’s such an important part of who we are as a nation.”
As CBN News reported, Johnson and a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers recently showed their support of Israel by holding a candlelight vigil for Israeli victims and hostages just one month after Hamas terrorists waged a bloody massacre of Israeli men, women, and children.
“Our Heavenly Father, we just call out to You tonight in mourning and with heavy hearts. Our Heavenly Father, we see what is happening to Israel, to innocent men, women, and children – civilians at the hands of evil men. And our prayer tonight is that You would strengthen and encourage those hostages, that You would be with them, present with them, in their time of great need. That you would comfort the families who are missing their loved ones and strengthen and encourage them as well,” the House Speaker prayed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
“We pray for the families who are mourning the unspeakable losses and the evil they have had to endure. And Father, we cry out to You for goodness to prevail over evil. For light to prevail over darkness. That those who have evil designs would be thwarted in their purposes and their strategies would fail. And that the leaders of Israel would have wisdom, stamina, and discernment on how to proceed. That the troops and those who are fighting for Israel and those who are fighting for good would be protected and would have great success,” he prayed.
As CBN Digital also reported, Johnson was a part of a handful of conservative lawmakers who met on the House floor back in January to pray for leadership in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) posted a photo of Johnson and other leaders who prayed for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) during a contentious time.
“In January,” Steube wrote, “Congressman Mike Johnson joined me on the House floor while we were in a deadlock over who our next Speaker would be. We lifted up the Speaker’s race to the Lord and asked for his divine guidance. Immediately after the prayer, 14 members changed their votes, ultimately leading to Speaker McCarthy securing the gavel by the end of the day.”