Lamenting 'Dark and Depraved Culture,' Speaker Mike Johnson Continues Attack on Queer Community
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Much has been written about Speaker of the House Mike Johnson's anti-gay comments over the years, but he makes it seem he made them in the last century. (He did not.) More recently he has adapted a more conciliatory stance: In October he claimed that '"genuinely love[d] all people regardless of their lifestyle choices." But a recent conversation Johnson had with a former preacher and political activist with ties to Donald Trump only added fuel to his anti-gay bonfire.
"Three weeks before he was elected speaker, Mike Johnson joined a prayer call where he lamented that American culture was 'so dark and depraved it almost seems irredeemable'" claiming as evidence that attendance at church had reached an all-time low and that 25 percent of high school students identified as 'something other than straight',"reports the New York Times.
Johnson made his most recent statements in an interview with Jim Garlow, a former pastor and political activist who was a member of President Donald J. Trump's faith advisory board,
"We're losing the country," Mr. Johnson concluded after citing a statistic he appeared to find in a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in which about a quarter of high school students in 2021 identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, questioning or other.
The call took place on October 3, immediately prior to the ouster of Speaker McCarthy. At the time Johnson appeared to have little inkling he would be the next Speaker.
Johnson appears to believe America is at a spiritual breaking point. "The only question is: Is God going to allow our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins?" he asked. "Or is he going to give us one more chance to restore the foundations and return to him?" He added: "We need to turn to him. We need a revival."
"Mr. Johnson's hard-line views on such social issues, also including abortion, are rooted in his Christian faith and are far out of step with mainstream public opinion. He has been described by some of his fellow House Republicans as someone whose views on social issues are frozen where the Republican Party was in the 1990s, and where the country was in the 1950s," writes the Times.
Moreover, The Guardian observes, Johnson's religious views are key to his governing ethos. "The enforcement of a Christian sexual morality and a strict gender hierarchy of men over women have not been incidental or minor themes of Johnson's career: they have been its primary goal, one he pursued doggedly through his pre-congressional life."
The Guardian continued, chronicling some of Johnson's anti-gay views over the years. "As a lawyer, he worked against gay marriage, and to uphold Louisiana's criminal ban on gay sex, writing briefs that described homosexuality as "inherently unnatural" and "a dangerous lifestyle" which he compared to pedophilia and bestiality. He still opposes marriage equality, and led efforts to squash the speakership candidacy of Tom Emmer last month in part because of Emmer's support for gay marriage rights. Along the way, Johnson has authored a national version of Florida's so-called "don't say gay" bill, which would outlaw mentions of homosexuality at schools, hospitals and other federally funded facilities. He opposes access to transition-related healthcare for adolescents and adults alike, and both he and his wife have worked to advance so-called "conversion therapy", an abusive, homophobic practice that has been outlawed in several states."
On same sex marriage, the Guardian quotes Johnson as saying: "Legalising gay marriage... we will have to do it for every deviant group. Polygamists, polyamorists, paedophiles and others will be next in line to claim equal protection. They already are. There will be no legal basis to deny a bisexual the right to marry a partner of each sex, or a person to marry his pet."
He also called same sex marriage, "the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic".
More recently, though, Johnson is taking a more conciliatory view to LGBTQ+ issues, dismissing his past comments. "I don't even remember some of them," he said in an interview with the Fox News host Sean Hannity when asked about his previous statements on homosexuality. "I genuinely love all people, regardless of their lifestyle choices. This is not about the people themselves."
The Times adds that "Mr. Johnson's wife, Kelly, a licensed pastoral counselor, has made similar remarks about L.G.B.T.Q. youth on a religious and political podcast the couple co-hosted until last month. On one episode, Mrs. Johnson expressed her deep concern about a 'woke agenda' in schools across the country and the rising rates of students who identify as L.G.B.T.Q. Citing a study that attributed that rise to 'indoctrination in schools,' she concluded, 'These are clearly unprecedented, unsettled and very dangerous times for our children'."