Mike Johnson's Debt to America's Secretive Right-Wing Networks

Exploring the Rise of Christian Nationalism in U.S. Politics

by Zain ul Abedin
Mike Johnson's Debt to America's Secretive Right-Wing Networks
© Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images

In a landmark decision on Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court rendered a verdict with profound implications for American politics: Former President Donald Trump is disqualified from the presidency and is to be omitted from the Colorado ballot.

This ruling stems from his involvement in the January 6 coup attempt, an act the court deemed insurrectionary under the U.S. Constitution. The decision is poised to stir controversy, likely fueling narratives among Trump's devout followers, notably White Christians and various fringe groups, who perceive him as a persecuted divine figure battling forces in the secular world and deep state.

Trumpism, an amalgamation of fascism, authoritarianism, and a new wave of conservatism, represents a unique form of religious politics. Here, the leader is elevated to a quasi-divine status, orchestrating a historic movement seen as a destiny-shaping force.

This blend of magical thinking and delusion is impervious to fact-based counterarguments, as Trump's rhetoric, steeped in fabulism and megalomania, aligns with his self-perception as a divine emissary. His proclamations, notably at a recent rally where he declared himself a "Chosen One" and a prophetic figure, resonate deeply with his base.

Trump's messaging is meticulously tailored to his audience. Surveys reveal that White Christians view him as a prophetic tool of their God, envisioning him as a harbinger of a Christofascist plutocracy in America.

Johnson's Ideological Influence

The threat posed by Trump and the burgeoning American neofascist movement, anchored by the Christian Right, to the nation's diverse, pluralistic democracy is escalating.

This movement has entrenched itself in government and society, with prominent figures like House Speaker Mike Johnson epitomizing its influence. Johnson, a Christian Nationalist with extreme views on LGBTQ+ rights, female autonomy, and the role of Christianity in governance, encapsulates this ideology.

To understand Johnson's influence in the context of Christian Nationalism and its role in Trump's era and America's democracy crisis, I spoke with Bradley B. Onishi, an expert in the field and author of “Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism." Onishi, a faculty member at the University of San Francisco, provided insights into Johnson's identity, beliefs, and the political landscape he navigates.

Unlike his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, Johnson is a devoted Christian Nationalist driven by the mission to realize God's vision for America. His rise to Speaker of the House signifies a triumph for the hardline evangelical wing of the Republican Party.

Johnson's positions on various social issues, from abortion to the separation of church and state, reflect a deep-seated desire to reshape America following his religious beliefs.

Johnson's Controversial Alliances

Onishi's research highlights Johnson's connections to influential right-wing organizations and his pivotal role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.

Johnson's alignment with Trump, MAGA, and the broader neofascist movement, though not explicitly fascist, reveals troubling ties to Christian groups instrumental in the January 6 mobilization. In our conversation, Onishi delved into the symbolism of the "Appeal to Heaven" flag, displayed outside Johnson's office, linking it to a militant Christian ideology advocating for spiritual warfare and dominion over various societal domains.

This flag, reappropriated from its historical origins, now represents the Christian supremacy narrative and the ambition to control all facets of earthly society, aligning with Johnson's political and religious ethos. Onishi's revelations in Rolling Stone about Johnson and this flag have provoked mixed reactions, underscoring the divisive nature of such symbols in contemporary American politics.

These insights into Johnson's worldview and affiliations provide a critical lens through which to view the current state and future trajectory of American democracy.