The Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives is Mike Johnson of Louisiana. On occasion, he has been a guest on some TV interviews for D. James Kennedy Ministries. For example, here are statements Mike Johnson gave on location at the Coral Ridge Ministries-TV studio in Ft. Lauderale as he was interviewed by Jerry Newcombe on October 24, 2003.
Answers by Michael Johnson in 2003.
I’ve been a Christian almost all my life. I was raised in a Christian home and, that’s my testimony. But I went to law school as many young Christians do, with this ideal that I really wanted to make a difference. And, when I got out of law school, I was a bit disillusioned, as a lot young lawyers are, to find that there were not a lot of opportunities to do that and not of a lot of immediate opportunities to apply your faith to the practice of law. But I was fortunate and blessed to work with a small group of attorneys in a private practice. and they were also Christians and so, we got involved in a number of causes. Through my work there I found out about the Alliance Defense Fund and, went to one of their training sessions and became one of their army of volunteer attorneys across the country. And, was very active in that role and ultimately, came on staff as one of the attorneys on staff.
The Alliance Defense Fund is a non-profit legal organization, and it has a three-fold mission. It is basically to restore the legal system to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And, that’s the overall mission, and we work in three primary areas, that is, religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and traditional family values. And so, it’s an organization that works to support the other Christian liberty defense organizations that are out there. We do that by training Christian attorneys and supporting them financially and otherwise, to coordinate and work on this alliance of Christian attorneys across the country so that we can win the legal battles for religious freedom.
The Alliance Defense Fund was founded by a number of well-known Christian leaders, including Dr. D. James Kennedy and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Dr. Bill Bright with Campus Crusade for Christ and Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries, and many others. What they did was they came together and they said, “You know, we really need to take back the ground that has been surrendered to groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and these other liberal activist organizations that for 30, 35, 40 years had run almost unchecked through our legal system, gradually dismantling the liberties and the freedoms that we were guaranteed from the founders and by our God. And so they got together to form this organization to take that ground back.
The establishment clause was intended and simply means that we would not have a one denomination as the national religion, the free exercise clause that goes right along with it in the First Amendment says that, to the contrary, everyone should have the right to worship their God as they deem appropriate. And the courts have taken the establishment clause, and it has come to mean something that it was never intended to mean. This is one of the examples of a judiciary out of control. They have read into the First Amendment, language that was not there. It’s often pointed out that separation of church and state does not come from the founding document. It came from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association. He was just clarifying and explaining what the real intent was, that is, we don’t want a national religion but we do want to allow religious expression. Of course, monuments to religion should be allowed in the public square. And many of the founders would say they should be encouraged because it reminds us from whence we came. We are endowed by our Creator with these certain inalienable rights. They put that in their writings, it’s reflected in all of their documents, their personal letters and that’s what it’s really about.
The first [Supreme Court] Chief Justice, John Jay, was an outspoken evangelical Christian and one wonders whether he would make it through the confirmation process of today. I would suggest he would not. And that is a shocking thing to think about, that the first chief justice may not have made it through the current Senate. Justice Scalia had an interesting comment in a case, over the last several years. He said, “We come to work now, and it seems to me that we are inventing a Constitution, rather than interpreting one.” And it’s a strong, it was a strong indictment of the court and its current role in society. Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas and Justice Rehnquist are strict constructionists. They believe that we should interpret the Constitution as it was written, it’s a timeless document, its principles are timeless and should be applied to every society, no matter what temporary, shifts we may be going through. The other justices believe that it is a malleable document, it should change with time, it should evolve with society. And that can be a scary thing. The value of the U.S. Constitution is that it was written over 200 years ago, but that it was divinely inspired, it was a document that relates to us today just as well as it did back then. And to read fundamental rights or to read new freedoms or new interpretations into this document just puts us on a slippery slope.
Here are some of Michael Johnson’s answers in an October 2017 television interview of him by D. James Kennedy Ministries, on location in Washington, D.C. By this time, Johnson was now a U.S. Congressman from Louisiana.
My background before I got to Congress is in constitutional law. I worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom and we defended religious freedom and the right of conscience in courts all around the country, and we’ve seen an increasing assault on that most fundamental freedom that we have. We call religious liberty our first freedom, for a reason of course, because it’s listed first. And that’s because the founders understood, you’re right to believe and to act upon that belief is essential to who you are as an American, but even more fundamental than that, who you are as a human being. And so it’s critically important to protect it, and yet we’ve seen this increasing assault over the last several decades really, it’s been growing. And right now it’s just at a critical point. You have an empowered, kind of radicalized left, who is trying to steamroll over this idea of religious freedom, and they’ve had some success in recent decades. So we’re trying to roll back some of that to defend what’s left of that ground, and even take some back. And we’re gratified that we’re seeing some strides in that result.
Instead of seeing a tolerance for people of all ideologies and all faiths, what we’ve seen is a growing hostility, an outright hostility towards one particular faith. And that’s the Christian faith, in almost every case, the Judeo-Christian heritage that we all revere, and those who live in accordance with those principles are under assault. And SPLC is one of the worst offenders of it. And they’ve had, the mainstream media and others have helped perpetuate this idea. So it has changed the climate. And, you know, I say all the time, it’s a great time to be alive if you have the answers. We know we’re in difficult times, but it’s never been more important to be able to give voice and a witness to the truth. We live in a postmodern era, as we know, and we live in a nation, sadly, of biblical and constitutional illiterates. It’s easy to take freedom away from a people if they don’t even know what those freedoms are. So it’s never been more important to be a bold voice. But, I’ll talk about all the time, to our friends, and supporters and people back home, do it in a winsome way. We’re called to be winsome warriors. We’re called to be gentle with those who disagree, we demolish their arguments, but we recognize they’re not the enemy. The enemy is the principalities, right? And I find that you can get a long way with being winsome about that. We don’t have any reason to be angry at anybody. I think Huckabee said one time, “I’m a conservative, but I’m not mad at anybody about it.” That’s kind of my philosophy. And I think that when we can approach those, even with whom we vehemently disagree, just talk with them reasonably. Reason together. We can have, make some headway, and we’re beginning to see some of that even in The Congress, believe it or not.
We’ve deviated far from the original intent [of the founding fathers]. The Supreme Court used to meet in the basement, as you know well. And now they’ve got a majestic building across the street, and I think they have usurped a lot of the authority that was really designed to be held in the hands of the people themselves. Through their elected representatives, through the legislative process, in this republic that we so revere. And we’ve had in some cases, kind of a runaway judiciary, really we have judicial activist in so many areas around the country, and they don’t, they’re making law from the bench rather than just calling it like an umpire, as Chief Justice Roberts said there in his confirmation. That’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be, but it’s not in so many cases. I have argued cases myself in federal courts before panels of federal judges who knew what the law was, we show them the red letter law in The Constitution, and they say, “hmmm yea, but we’re doing something different.” I remember, I was arguing a case defending the tradition of public invocations, that literally dates back to the continental congress, who began their prayers, their sessions with a prayer, often in Jesus’ name. Was arguing the case at the fourth circuit court of appeals, on the eastern seaboard, and the ACLU attorney on the other side was trying to stamp out this practice at city councils in that case. And they stood before the judge and they said, “Your honor, the mention of Jesus in a public prayer is precisely the kind of evil that the establishment clause was created to prevent.” And few people even sighed when she said it, and I thought, “This is what it’s come to in this country.” And she got judges to agree with that sentiment, and they stamped it out. Now ultimately we got all that overturned in a case a year and a half ago at the Supreme Court, but the idea was that they would go against something that literally dates back, the same men who wrote the language of the first amendment began those sessions with a prayer. And here a couple years ago they declare that it’s now unconstitutional, because it’s a living breathing document and we have to change with the times. I’m an originalist; I think we need to be. I think the founders were divinely inspired to put these protections in the way they did, and we deviate from that at our peril.