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Mike Johnson Once Said Only God Gives Authority for Presidents to Take Office

The current speaker of the House was a key figure in Trump’s allies’ plans to overturn the 2020 election.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the U.S. Capitol on November 14, 2023.

At a Baptist church in Mike Johnson’s home state of Louisiana in 2019, the then-relatively unknown House member preached on his beliefs on the relationship between the Christian God and the government. In an unearthed video recording, highlighted by Accountable.US in research provided exclusively to Truthout, Johnson hailed his conviction that God, and no one else, gives presidents and the government authority.

“Donald Trump was allowed to become the president by God,” Johnson said in his April 28, 2019 address to the First Baptist Church Haughton. “So was Barack Obama. So was every previous President. This is real clear right here, if you believe the Bible as I do, it says God allows this. He chooses and creates and lifts up some and allows others. But He’s sovereign and He’s in control.”

“Sometimes we get the government we deserve,” he added.

The address was part of a seminar given by Johnson and his extremist anti-LGBTQ wife, Kelly Johnson, titled “Answers for Our Times: Government, Culture, and Christianity.” It was organized by a company owned by Johnson’s wife, known as Onward Christian Education Services, Inc., a Christian counseling company which espouses the hateful belief that homosexuality is akin bestiality or incest.

In other parts of the address, the now-speaker of the House warns that widening welfare programs means that “Government is becoming God,” as Mother Jones reported recently. He suggests that democracy and majority rule are a form of tyranny, and that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation — a notion that historians have said is untrue, with the founders repeatedly espousing the importance of religious freedom.

Recent reporting has uncovered Mike Johnson’s extremely deep ties to Christian extremists and their virulently anti-LGBTQ networks. The former top counsel for anti-LGBTQ hate group the Alliance Defending Freedom, Mike Johnson’s political background has been highly influenced by figures in the Christian far right.

While saying that the presidents were given authority by God, Johnson was preaching on what he said was the importance of “submit[ting] himself to” God, quoting a passage from the New Testament.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God,” he said, before adding that Obama and Trump were given presidential authority by God. “Anyway, consequently, he who rebels against the authorities is rebelling against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

The statements speak to Johnson’s embrace of Christian nationalism, and the once fringe ideology increasingly adopted by Republicans that there should be no separation between church and state. The idea that God gives authority to elected officials is unpopular among the American public — but now, it’s embraced and espoused by the speaker of the House, one of the most powerful figures in the U.S.

They also speak to an inherent hypocrisy, as Accountable.US argues, in what Johnson says he believes about the power given to presidents — evident in his role as a key architect of former President Donald Trump’s attempted coup over the 2020 election. Though Johnson preached the importance of supposedly submitting to authorities, when Trump lost the 2020 election, Johnson orchestrated an amicus brief signed by over 100 House Republicans in a Texas lawsuit to invalidate the election results.

“Speaker Johnson’s past comments are especially damning given that he himself led radical attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and undermine the will of voters. His extremism knows no bounds,” Accountable.US president Caroline Ciccone said. “Speaker Johnson is a champion for the fringe right-wing faction of his MAGA majority — and his leadership only means more desperate attempts to force his far-right agenda on everyday Americans.”

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