ROUNDUP: Speaker Mike Johnson’s Extreme Record Dominates Coverage

by Delphine Luneau

Picture Emerges of Speaker With Visions of Christian Nationalism, Dehumanizing LGBTQ+ People, Restricting Bodily Autonomy, Undermining Democracy and More

WASHINGTON — In the week since he became Speaker of the House in a party-line vote, journalists from a host of news outlets have been seeking the answer to a question that the anti-equality majority in the House clearly failed to address — who is Mike Johnson? In a roundup of articles from a cross-section of news organizations, the picture that emerges is one of a lawmaker who is out of step with the rest of the country on virtually every topic of importance to the business of governance today, from LGBTQ+ rights, to MAGA extremism and election denialism, to abortion, and gun violence prevention.

“In picking Mike Johnson, ‘moderate’ House Republicans showed that they’re comfortable being led by a man who comes straight from the extreme fringe of their party,” said Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson. “Johnson isn’t just wrong on the issues of LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights, abortion and gun safety — he’s been obsessed with restricting people’s freedoms, rolling back progress and harming marginalized people for literally decades. He’s unfit to lead the House, and the lawmakers who made him Speaker will have to face the voters who expected better.”

LGBTQ+ Rights

CNN: Before he became a politician, House Speaker Mike Johnson partnered with an anti-gay conversion therapy group

“Prior to launching his political career, Johnson, a lawyer, gave legal advice to an organization called Exodus International and partnered with the group to put on an annual anti-gay event aimed at teens, according to a CNN KFile review of more than a dozen of Johnson’s media appearances from that timespan.

“Founded in 1976, Exodus International was a leader in the so-called ‘ex-gay’ movement, which aimed to make gay individuals straight through conversion therapy programs using religious and counseling methods. Exodus International connected ministries across the world using these controversial approaches.”

HuffPost: Mike Johnson's Wife Runs Counseling Service That Compares Being Gay To Bestiality, Incest

“Kelly Johnson features the couple’s podcast on the website of her company, Onward Christian Counseling Services, which promotes Bible-based pastoral counseling. Her website also includes a link to its 2017 operating agreement, which lays out the corporate bylaws for the company ― and embraces a number of socially conservative beliefs about LGBTQ+ people and women’s reproductive rights.

“The agreement states that Onward Christian Counseling Services is grounded in the belief that sex is offensive to God if it is not between a man and a woman married to each other. It puts being gay, bisexual or transgender in the same category as someone who has sex with animals or family members, calling all of these examples of ‘sexual immorality.’”

The Guardian: ‘Go pick up a Bible’: Speaker Mike Johnson defends anti-LGBTQ+ views

Questioned about comments and actions deemed by many to be homophobic, the new Republican US House speaker, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, told Fox News his worldview was: “Go pick up a Bible.”

Christian Nationalism & MAGA Extremism

CNN: Mike Johnson symbolizes a new turn for the religious right

“Like Trump’s commanding lead in the 2024 GOP presidential race, Johnson’s rapid ascent to the speakership in just his fourth congressional term showcases how this multi-front resistance to an evolving America has become the most powerful force binding the modern GOP coalition.”

The Atlantic: The Polite Zealotry of Mike Johnson

“Johnson wants churches to be more politicized; he favors overturning the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches from engaging in any political campaign activity if they want to keep their tax-exempt status. He also believes that churches are unceasingly under assault, and that Christian viewpoints ‘are censored and silenced.’”

The New York Times: ‘The Embodiment of White Christian Nationalism in a Tailored Suit’

“[Robert Jones, the president and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute] argued that ‘while Johnson is more polished than other right-wing leaders of the G.O.P. who support this worldview, his record and previous public statements indicate that he’s a near textbook example of white Christian nationalism — the belief that God intended America to be a new promised land for European Christians.’”

Election Denialism

Poynter: Mike Johnson sought to overturn 2020 election. As House speaker, he’ll oversee 2024 certification

“Johnson said there was ‘a lot of merit’ to voting machine conspiracy theories, ‘and when the president says the election was “rigged” that is what he was talking about; the fix was in.’

“Johnson called for exhausting ‘all the legal remedies.’ The Trump side went on to lose about 60 lawsuits.

“Johnson supported Trump’s complaints about Georgia. State Attorney Fani Willis indicted Trump and 18 defendants for their efforts to overturn the state’s result for Biden.

“‘In Georgia, it really was rigged, it was set up for the Biden team to win,’” he said in the same radio show interview, in part citing the increase of absentee ballots cast by Democrats compared with 2016.”


CBS News: House Speaker Mike Johnson once referred to abortion as “a holocaust”

“Johnson spoke at length about his thoughts on abortion and the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade in a 2022 appearance on Fox News.

“‘There is no right to abortion in the Constitution,’ he said. ‘There never was; it’s not in its text, structure, or meaning and the court said that decisively. Many of us have been working towards this day our entire adult lives and it is a joyous occasion.’”

Birth Control

Rolling Stone: House Speaker Mike Johnson’s Long Crusade Against Birth Control

“As a lawyer, Johnson worked on multiple cases representing plaintiffs who refused to dispense, counsel, or provide emergency contraception, which they considered to be abortion-inducing drugs. And as a congressman, Johnson has repeatedly voted against efforts to expand, fund, or protect access to birth control and other family planning services - including for members of the military.”

Climate Change

The New York Times: New House Speaker Champions Fossil Fuels and Dismisses Climate Concerns

At a town hall in 2017, Mr. Johnson said: “The climate is changing, but the question is, is it being caused by natural cycles over the span of the Earth’s history? Or is it changing because we drive S.U.V.s? I don’t believe in the latter. I don’t think that’s the primary driver.”

Gun Safety

The Hill: Speaker Johnson says now not the time to discuss gun control: ‘Problem is the human heart, not guns’

“Newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said guns aren’t the problem and now isn’t the time for gun control in his first national interview on Thursday, a day after 18 people were killed in a mass shooting in Maine.

“‘At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns. It’s not the weapons.’ Johnson said in a Fox News interview with host Sean Hannity on Thursday.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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