Tag Archive for: Christian Nationalism

You Can’t Have Your Theocracy and Eat It Too

“Ah, thank God for Salon, the voice of reason,” said no one ever, and former “senior White House correspondent for Playboy” Brian Karem’s latest article there is demonstrative of why.

In a piece published Thursday and subtly, tastefully entitled “MAGA and Christian nationalism: Bigger threat to America than Hamas could ever be,” Karem argues that so-called Christian nationalists (by which his fustian smear piece makes clear he means any devout Christian elected to public office) pose a greater threat to the U.S. than Islamist terrorists like Hamas — you remember them, the little ragtag band who attacked Israel last month and slaughtered over 1,400 Israelis in a single day and have been torturing hostages every day since. No, Hamas is nothing more than a Middle Eastern bogeyman, Karem would have you believe. The real threat to the American way of life is that devious religion founded on the principle of self-sacrificial love: Christianity.

In an interesting rhetorical choice, Karem chooses to begin his argument by noting that “the FBI issued a warning that the chance of staged terrorist attacks in the United States has grown since the war began in Gaza.” He further mocks Fox News’s White House correspondent Peter Doocy for asking national security officials if they’ve considered the possibility of a terrorist entering the U.S. via the nation’s wide-open southern border. “Obviously they have,” write Karem, “or the FBI wouldn’t have issued the warning.”

For a few paragraphs, Karem does some adroit fund-the-war-in-Ukraine cheerleading, somehow manages to praise Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for betraying his voter base and shipping American tax dollars overseas, and speculate whether or not Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) or Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) are “fans” of Russian president Vladimir Putin — all of this amidst a smattering of pop culture references of which I’m sure Karem is proud, and equally sure he shouldn’t be.

Then he reaches the crux of his argument: “While the world burns, Johnson and the MAGA wing of the Republican Party … seem determined to convert the U.S. into a theocracy run by people who will thump you with the Bible, but haven’t read much of it.” This coming from the former White House correspondent for Playboy.

“Lord, how they love to preach fire and brimstone. But the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes? Forget it,” Karem opines. “Not a chance. They’ve embraced only the Old Testament angry God and the apocalyptic parts of Revelation brought on by ergot poisoning.” Most devout Christians are no doubt familiar with this age-old approach: the admitted non-believer who doesn’t read his Bible cherry-picks a handful of Scripture passages that, taken out of context, he thinks prove his point, and proceeds to berate the Christian for failing to live up to his arbitrary standard of Christianity based on an English translation of an out-of-context Bible verse, or two, if he’s feeling particularly cocky.

Karem would do well to remember that the Beatitudes include “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8) and “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you for my sake” (Matthew 5:11), which is exactly what the leftist-dominated media, including Salon, has been doing to Mike Johnson, ridiculing him for his Christian faith, his fidelity to his wife, and even his adoption of an African-American teenager.

In classic anti-Christian form, Karem disregards roughly 2,000 years’ worth of theological scholarship, debate, and clarification to roughly cite a Bible verse and implicitly declare himself a knowledgeable arbiter of all things Christian. He claims that Johnson and his MAGA ilk “want no separation of church and state. They want an isolationist country surrounded by walls and dedicated to the proposition that the First Amendment guarantees them the right to worship any way they want — while forcing the rest of us to worship the way they choose.” He adds that “modern Republicans seem hellbent on returning to the Middle Ages, driven there by the first Christian nationalist House speaker.”

Of course, Christians do support the First Amendment. It’s the legal mechanism that protects our right to worship the Triune God and to live so we that might be more and more like Him, in the hopes of one day being united wholly with Him in Heaven. While Karem rightly notes that the U.S. Constitution forbids “respecting an establishment of religion,” he wrongly interprets this to mean a “separation of church and state.”

The leftist’s or progressive’s notion of the constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion seems to demand that lawmakers leave their religious beliefs — which, for the devoutly religious, are the very core of their being and the moral fabric upon which they base their every decision — at the door of the statehouse or capitol building. At no point anywhere in the U.S. Constitution is this explicated or even implied. If it were, a substantial sum of religious Americans of all creeds would be barred from public service, leaving the running of the nation to those with, essentially, no beliefs beyond the merely material world.

As the great author C.S. Lewis elegantly elucidated in his book “The Abolition of Man,” those who do not profess some kind of eternal or religious belief essentially have no beliefs, and therefore have no basis for forming value judgments. It is the eternal, the immutable which is the standard against which all things are measured, which serves as the source of value itself. Without such a belief, there can be no deciding this policy or that is “good” for the nation or “bad” for the country because there is no basis for declaring anything “good” or “bad.” Lewis, of course, explains the concept far more authoritatively and far more intelligently than I, and as I’m sure there would be some copyright issue with quoting the entirety of his book here, I strongly recommend you read (or re-read) it.

Back to Karem’s postulation that Christian nationalism is a bigger threat to America than Islamist terrorists. Citing Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a rabid abortion advocate whom Karem classifies as “a constitutional scholar,” the Salon columnist quips, “The framers taught us that the biggest threat to religious freedom comes from theocrats who try to establish their own sect over everyone else.” Karem adds, “None of that matters to the Republicans. They revel in their own chicanery. They despise free thought and independence…” Nevermind that the vast majority of censorship efforts come from the Left, never mind that the preponderance of America’s founders were Bible-believing Christians, nevermind that “free thought and independence” in America were pioneered by those who put their faith in Someone other than the president or their local congressmen, nevermind that God Himself is the source (and, indeed, summit) of freedom and independence.

If Christian conservatives seem “hellbent on returning to the Middle Ages,” then Karem (and many a leftist like him) is “hellbent” on proliferating a self-defeating argument. Anti-Christian leftists deride “theocracy,” while simultaneously insisting that Christians aren’t being properly Christian. Leftists jettison the bulk of the Christian moral code and stick to the platitude “Be nice to people,” which Christ notably never uttered. Leftists fear a Christian “theocracy,” but also try to tell Christians we’re doing theocracy wrong. Which one is it, Mr. Karem? Is Christianity a violent, threatening, oppressive religion that cannot be tolerated openly in the public square? Or is it a peaceful belief proclaiming niceness and tolerance to all men? It can’t be both.

And let the record reflect that at no point does Karem address how Christian nationalists might launch an attack on America that slaughters over 1,400 in a single day, nor which book of the Bible condones taking and torturing hostages, nor indeed where in Scripture Christ promised his disciples any number of virgin-afterlife-brides in exchange for suicide bombings. At the end of the day, Hamas and other Islamist terrorist organizations pose an infinitely greater threat to America than devout Christians striving for the good of the nation.


S.A. McCarthy

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.



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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

New Speaker Mike Johnson Attacked for Believing Basic Christian Doctrine

On Wednesday, after three weeks of dysfunction following the ouster of former-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana was elected as the 56th Speaker of the House. Johnson’s elevation to the office caps a frenetic period in which Republicans considered multiple candidates before coalescing around the four-term congressman. Although Johnson’s unexpected rise to the speakership was welcomed by conservatives, the Left has predictably been apoplectic in denouncing Speaker Johnson’s long-standing social conservative views.

Although progressives routinely castigate those who hold convictions rooted in a biblical worldview, the sharp criticism directed toward the new speaker for his Christian faith is nonetheless revealing.

For example, some House Democrats took exception to the portion of Johnson’s speech on Wednesday in which the new speaker referenced God. “Welcome to the Republican Era of not even pretending they aren’t forcing their religion on Congress and the American people. This is a slippery, dangerous slope to theocracy,” warned Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.). Another Democrat, Jamie Raskin, tweeted, “Speaker Mike Johnson? Anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-democracy. This is what theocracy looks like.”

Although allegations of Republicans wanting to install a theocracy are not new, the dire warnings of Huffman and Raskin, and the parroting of these claims by some in the media, reveal remarkable ignorance of basic Christian beliefs. Significantly, Johnson has said nothing about theocracy or forcing his religious beliefs on anyone. Rather, the new speaker simply articulated the commonplace Christian perspective that God providentially raises up leaders.

In his speech, Johnson stated, “I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a matter like this. I believe that Scripture, the Bible is very clear that God is the One that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment and this time.”

Far from advocating for a theocratic takeover of the House of Representatives, Johnson’s comments merely reflect well-known biblical passages such as Daniel 2:21 which states, “He changes times and season; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” and Psalm 22:28 where it says, “For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.”

Other passages that affirm God’s role in raising up civil leaders include Isaiah 40:22-23, which says, “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.” Likewise, Proverbs 21:1 teaches “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

To put it simply, Johnson’s understanding that “God is the One that raises up those in authority” is a widely-held Christian belief that has been taught for centuries. The fact that articulating this basic conviction triggered ominous warnings of an impending theocracy demonstrates the ever-widening gulf between those with a biblical worldview and those without one.

Second, Johnson’s elevation to the speakership prompted scores of opposition researchers to investigate the congressman’s past writings and speeches for potentially damaging material. Johnson’s past comments on same-sex marriage, abortion, and homosexuality were immediately targeted. For example, within hours of Johnson’s election, CNN investigative reporters Andrew Kaczynski and Allison Gordon published a piece provocatively titled: “New speaker of the House Mike Johnson once wrote in support of the criminalization of gay sex.” According to the reporters, Johnson once supported an amendment to Louisiana’s constitution that defined marriage between a man and a woman.

Moreover, in a 2004 op-ed, Johnson described homosexual relationships as “inherently unnatural.” After mentioning other examples of Johnson’s purported extremism, the authors note, “Now, Johnson is the speaker of the House at a time when a majority of Americans are strongly supportive of gay rights.” Of course, CNN was not alone. Hours after his election, ABCNBCNew York TimesVanity Fair, and other outlets published stories that highlighted Johnson’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

On abortion, media outlets and Democratic campaign operatives seized on Johnson’s past statements. Politico noted that Johnson once served as a senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, “the conservative legal powerhouse behind the case that overturned Roe v. Wade.” The article specifically highlighted the congressman’s support for a federal heartbeat law. Other criticism came from DNC Chair Jamie Harrison who released a statement describing Johnson as a “anti-abortion MAGA extremist.” Harrison also noted Johnson’s sponsorship of what he characterized as “an extreme abortion ban nationwide.” Sarah Posner, a contributor for MSNBC, also pointed to Johnson’s pro-life record as proof that he is the “most unabashedly Christian nationalist speaker in history.”

From a worldview perspective, the criticisms and denunciations of Johnson are predictable. We live in highly partisan times, and the reality is that whoever Republicans elevated to serve as Speaker of the House would be portrayed in the worst possible light. However, it is still significant that much of the initial criticism hurled at the new speaker overlaps with basic Christian convictions.

From the first century, Christians have affirmed the personhood of the unborn and opposed abortion. Likewise, Christians have believed marriage is the relationship between one man and one woman and taught that homosexual behavior is outside of God’s design and purpose for human sexuality. The fact that convictions held by Christians for millennia are now openly mocked and disparaged by so many speaks to the rapid secularization of the times.

The newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is a Southern Baptist who subscribes to the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Like tens of millions of Americans, Johnson’s views on a range of issues are informed by Scripture, science, and reason. Although the news media and opposition party are working overtime to convince the nation that Johnson is a “Christian nationalist” with outdated, subversive policy views, that characterization could not be further from the truth.

Johnson’s views are in line with an overwhelming percentage of American Christians who share the speaker’s worldview. As we will soon find out, this is good news for Republicans, but more importantly, good news for America at a time when convictional, principled leadership is sorely needed.


David Closson

David Closson is Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.