Today’s Shorts: Christian Nationalism, VanLife Gone Wrong & Halloween Costumes

MAGA Mike keeps making news … homeless on BLM land … and what’s up with all of the sexy nuns?

Is Speaker Mike Johnson a White Christian Nationalist?

For someone who was unknown outside of the Bible Belt a month ago, newly elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives Mike Johnson has been all over the news since he accepted the speaker’s gavel on October 25, 2023.

Some of the more shocking stories about Johnson focus on his flagrant disregard for separation of church and state.

Johnson describes himself as a “Bible-believing Christian.” If people want to learn his opinion on any topic, Johnson said, “Go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it — that’s my worldview.”

I served in the Arizona Legislature with many “Bible-believing Christians” who routinely voted against the teachings of Jesus and his message of universal love and compassion for everyone. Their version of the Bible had an exceptions list, as does Johnson’s. New York Times opinion columnist Charles M. Blow, who grew up in Johnson’s Congressional district, warns us not to be fooled by his Southern charm. Johnson is Trump in a “far more congenial and urbane package”and he’s a pastor in the American Baptist Church.

“He [Johnson] is from a part of the country where your nemesis will smile at you and promise to pray for you, where people will quickly submit that they ‘love the sinner but hate the sin,’ where one hand can hold a Bible while the other holds a shackle. He is from a place where people use religion to brand their hatred as love so that they act on it cheerfully and without guilt.” [Emphasis added.]
— Charles M. Blow, I Grew Up in Mike Johnson’ District, Where Kindness Can Mask Cruelty, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2023

Another NYT opinion columnist goes a step further.

“Mike Johnson is the first person to become speaker of the House who can be fairly described as a Christian nationalist, a major development in American history in and of itself. Equally important, however, his ascension reflects the strength of white evangelical voters’ influence in the House Republican caucus, voters who are determined to use the power of the government to roll back civil rights, women’s rights and sexual revolutions.”
— Thomas B. Edsall, ‘The Embodiment of White Christian Nationalism in a Tailored Suit’, New York Times, Nov. 1, 2023

Edsall’s article has a lot of data on religious affiliation by party over time. Between the 1970s and the 2010s, the percentage of “mainline Protestants,” who were Republicans (like my parents), fell from 46 percent to 17 percent. Evangelical Protestant enrollment in the Republican Party grew from 24 percent to 38 percent, and Catholic enrollment grew from 19 percent to 25 percent.

According to Edsall, Robert Jones, of the Public Religion Research Institute, described Johnson in an email as “the embodiment of white Christian nationalism in a tailored suit” and a “near textbook example of white Christian nationalism — the belief that God intended America to be a new promised land for European Christians.”

What is Christian nationalism? (Continued on Substack here.)

To read the rest of this article, along with #VanLife Goes Wrong and Halloween Costume Observations, check out this article and more on Powers for the People on Substack here. It’s free!