Three weeks earlier than he was elected speaker, Mike Johnson joined a prayer call the place he lamented that American tradition was “so darkish and wicked it nearly appears irredeemable,” claiming as proof that attendance at church had reached an all-time low and that 25 p.c of highschool college students recognized as “one thing aside from straight.”
In an interview with Jim Garlow, a former pastor and political activist who was a member of President Donald J. Trump’s religion advisory board, Mr. Johnson mentioned that “religion in our establishments is the bottom it’s ever been” and famous that church attendance had “dropped beneath 50 p.c.”
As additional proof of America’s decline, he cited the statistic about highschool college students’ sexual orientation. He seemed to be citing a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wherein a few quarter of highschool college students in 2021 recognized as lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, questioning or different.
“We’re dropping the nation,” Mr. Johnson concluded.
Since Mr. Johnson was elected speaker final month, his previous feedback and writings on issues like homosexuality and same-sex marriage have attracted important consideration. Whereas a lot of these statements are years outdated, his feedback to Mr. Garlow provide an up-to-date distillation of his views.
Mr. Johnson’s feedback on the prayer name were reported earlier by Rolling Stone. The decision happened on Oct. 3, hours earlier than the Home voted to oust Mr. McCarthy, and was broadcast by Mr. Garlow’s group the next day. On the decision, Mr. Johnson mentioned Congress was in uncharted territory, and he appeared to have little inkling that he would finally find yourself as Mr. McCarthy’s successor.
“What we want is a supernatural intervention from the God of the universe,” he mentioned of the chaos gripping the Home Republican convention.
Mr. Johnson added that the nation had reached an inflection level. “The one query is: Is God going to permit our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins?” he requested. “Or is he going to offer us yet another probability to revive the foundations and return to him?” He added: “We have to flip to him. We’d like a revival.”
Mr. Johnson, a fourth-term Republican from Louisiana, was a little-known conservative lawmaker till his shock election as speaker. For many years, he has been writing and talking publicly about his non secular views, together with his stances on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, which he has written is “inherently unnatural” and a “harmful life-style.”
“Specialists undertaking that gay marriage is the darkish harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that might doom even the strongest republic,” he wrote in a local newspaper in 2004.
Mr. Johnson’s hard-line views on such social points, additionally together with abortion, are rooted in his Christian religion and are far out of step with mainstream public opinion. He has been described by a few of his fellow Home Republicans as somebody whose views on social points are frozen the place the Republican Social gathering was within the Nineteen Nineties, and the place the nation was within the Fifties.
Conscious of the political legal responsibility of these stances for somebody who now represents the Home Republican convention as an entire, Mr. Johnson has tried to distance himself from his previous feedback, with out repudiating them.
“I don’t even keep in mind a few of them,” he mentioned in an interview with the Fox Information host Sean Hannity when requested about his earlier statements on homosexuality. “I genuinely love all folks, no matter their life-style selections. This isn’t concerning the folks themselves.”
Mr. Johnson’s spouse, Kelly, a licensed pastoral counselor, has made related remarks about L.G.B.T.Q. youth on a non secular and political podcast the couple co-hosted till final month. On one episode, Mrs. Johnson expressed her deep concern a few “woke agenda” in faculties throughout the nation and the rising charges of scholars who determine as L.G.B.T.Q. Citing a research that attributed that rise to “indoctrination in faculties,” she concluded, “These are clearly unprecedented, unsettled and really harmful occasions for our kids.”
As a pastor in California, Mr. Garlow, who hosted the prayer name, organized evangelical pastors in assist of Proposition 8, a state poll measure banning same-sex marriage that handed in 2008 however was later struck down.
He now leads a corporation that describes its mission as “bringing biblical ideas of governance to authorities leaders and the individuals who elect them.” The group broadcasts public “prayer calls” with visitors, together with elected officers like Mr. Johnson.
On the finish of his look, Mr. Johnson choked up as he led the decision in prayer. “We repent for our sins individually and collectively,” he mentioned. “And we ask that you just not give us the judgment that we clearly deserve.”
Ruth Graham contributed reporting.