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The election of Republican Mike Johnson from Louisiana as Speaker of the House after the unprecedented ousting of former speaker Kevin McCarthy has ignited a firestorm of criticism, with many aiming the charge of religious fundamentalism against the new speaker. Jen Psaki, who previously served as President Biden’s Press Secretary and now hosts a segment on MSNBC, warned against a “wolf in a suit.” Psaki warned against Johnson’s apparently benign image, writing for MSNBC, “Most Americans might not be able to pick Mike Johnson out of a lineup, but in reality, he’s far from benign. Johnson is a true Trump believer. He was an architect in the House of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and served as one of the former president’s impeachment lawyers. He is opposed to any form of abortion access. He once supported criminalizing gay sex.” She accused Johnson of being “basically a Christian fundamentalist.” She stated that despite his ability to dress well and having a fairly clean past, the new Speaker is far from “harmless.” In one of her segments, she shared a clip of Johnson calling himself a “Bible-believing Christian.” “I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media, they said, ‘Well, it’s curious. People are curious, what does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’” he said in the clip. “I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my worldview.’’ “You heard that right. The Bible doesn’t just inform his worldview. It is his worldview,” Psaki said of his comments. 

CNN shared equal concerns of Johnson’s religious views. “In his own journey, the Louisiana Republican embodies the merger between different generations of public priorities for the movement of conservative evangelical Christians in which he launched his career and still strongly identifies. Long identified with issues revolving around sexuality, religious conservatives have also become the bedrock supporters of a Trump movement rooted in hostility toward demographic and racial change,” wrote Ronald Brownstein for CNN. He equated the religious right’s tight immigration policies to maintaining whiteness in the United States. The article also accused Johnson, without directly quoting him, of fearing that the Democrat party was importing immigrants into the country to replace white people. “While Johnson has not framed that issue in overtly racial terms, he has repeatedly described illegal immigration as ‘an invasion’ and insisted that Democrats are deliberately enabling it for partisan gain,” the article asserted. Johnson was also criticized for seemingly placing a religious requirement on candidates for president, with Mother Jones quoting him as saying, “You better sit down any candidate who says they’re going to run for legislature and say, ‘I want to know what your worldview is. I want to know what, to know what you think about the Christian heritage of this country. I want to know what you think about God’s design for society. Have you ever thought about that?’ If they hadn’t thought about it, you need to move on and find somebody who has…We have too many people in government who don’t know any of this stuff. They haven’t even thought about it.”

For his part, Johnson appears to have the views expected of a conservative Christian member of the GOP. He strongly opposes abortion, though he faces accusations of extremism due to voting against the Right to Contraception Act in 2022. To date, Johnson has been unclear about his specific legislative actions against birth control, telling Fox News’s Shannon Bream that he does not remember supporting any legislation that banned IVF treatments. His concerns against the Right to Contraception Act, although not explicitly stated, appear to be due to the concern that certain pills that fall under the label “contraception” may act as abortifacients, such as the morning-after pill. Rolling Stone criticized this view, stating that the morning-after pill only stops a pregnancy; it does not terminate an existing pregnancy. Whether Johnson maintains this view is unclear. 

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