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Petition Blasts Mike Johnson Over Christian Nationalist Chaplain Appearance

Pastor Jack Hibbs was given the platform to speak despite his antisemitic, Islamophobic and transphobic views.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (center) is joined by fellow GOP House leaders for a news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on February 14, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

A petition that condemns Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) for collaborating with a Christian nationalist pastor — who pushed false election fraud claims in support of former President Donald Trump — has amassed thousands of signatures.

The petition from Faithful America, an organization that describes itself as a “community of Christians putting faith into action for love and social justice,” calls out Johnson for allowing Pastor Jack Hibbs to lead a prayer before Congress on January 30, as part of the guest chaplain program.

The rules for that program specifically state that participants must be “mindful of the importance of providing a prayer inclusive” of the diversity of viewpoints in the country. Hibbs hardly fits that criteria, as he has engaged in antisemitic and Islamophobic rhetoric in the past, including describing Muslim Americans as being part of a “death cult.”

Hibbs has also spewed anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, derisively describing transgender people as being part of a “sexually perverted cult” that is in “violation of the word and will of God.” He has spoken ill of marriage rights for LGBTQ couples, opposed anti-bullying laws that are meant to protect LGBTQ children in schools, and claimed that acceptance of LGBTQ people across the country is evidence that the U.S. is in its “last days.”

The petition, which has amassed around 17,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning, also highlights that Hibbs participated in the Trump rally on January 6, 2021, which devolved into a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building as Congress was certifying President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. After the attack, Hibbs attempted to justify the violence by wrongly claiming that the election was “manipulated.”

The petition from Faithful America takes the form of an open letter addressed to Johnson, chastising him for allowing Hibbs to serve as a guest chaplain for the House.

“The role of the Guest Chaplain is to encourage love and common purpose — not to antagonize, hate, lie, or threaten,” Faithful America writes on its website hosting the letter. “And neither insurrectionists nor anti-Muslim and antisemitic leaders should ever be welcome on the House floor, period.”

The petition includes a call to action, urging Johnson to “stop manipulating the Guest Chaplain program to uplift divisive and hateful figures.”

The organization is not alone in criticizing Johnson — last week, a letter signed by 26 lawmakers in the House also blasted the speaker of the House for allowing Hibbs to be a guest chaplain, saying that the bigoted pastor’s inclusion in the program showcases “a breathtaking lack of consideration for the religious diversity of our Congress and pluralistic nation.”

Johnson, as well as the full-time chaplain of the House, “decided to flout the Chaplaincy guidelines and use the platform of the Guest Chaplain to lend the imprimatur of Congress to an ill-qualified hate preacher who shares the Speaker’s Christian Nationalist agenda and his antipathy toward church-state separation,” the letter from the lawmakers read.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California), who co-chairs the Congressional Freethought Caucus (CFC), issued a report about Johnson’s alarming views earlier this year, noting in January that Johnson is “deeply connected in political practice and philosophy to Christian Nationalism, more so than any other Speaker in American history.”

“He has spent decades working to deny, reject, and undermine the constitutional separation of church and state, including trafficking in fake histories about our nation’s founding,” the CFC report stated, noting that Johnson has also “dedicated his career as a lawyer, advocate, and legislator to undermining…constitutional freedoms, weakening the separation of church and state, and trying to impose his own radical religious views on other citizens.”

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