House Speaker Mike Johnson recently labeled the separation of church and state a “misnomer,” giving an interview with CNBC. Co-host for the network, Andrew Ross Sorkin, pressed Johnson on his prior action of kneeling and praying on the floor of Congress earlier this year.
Speaker Jonson explained to Sorkin the profound history of faith and its influence on America’s founding. He stated that the founding fathers viewed religion as a necessary prerequisite for the “grand experiment” of the United States to function. Johnson illustrated how important having a common faith was in holding the moral fabric of society together in the absence of an authoritative government.
“Listen, faith, our deep religious heritage and tradition is a big part of what it means to be an American. When the founders set the system up. They wanted a vibrant expression of faith in the public square because they believed that a general moral consensus and virtue was necessary to maintain this grand experiment and self-governance. So we created a government of by and for the people, we don’t have a king in charge, we don’t have a middleman. So we’ve got to keep morality amongst us so that we have accountability,” the Speaker said.
Johnson explained how the commonly cited phrase “separation of church and state” is often misunderstood and not actually written in the Constitution, noting that it comes from Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut. The House Speaker illustrates that the intention of the “separation” was to ensure that the government did not interfere with the influence of the church.
“And so they wanted faith to be a big part of that the separation of church and state is a misnomer. People misunderstand it. Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote is not in the Constitution and what he was explaining is they did not want the government to encroach upon the church, not that they didn’t want principles of faith to have influence on our public life is exactly the opposite,” he said.
Johnson also cited more historical references from other founding fathers, such as George Washington and John Adams. Washington’s farewell address in 1796 stated that religion and the moral coherence that follows are paramount to the health of society. Furthermore, John Adams wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Militia in 1798, which outright proclaimed the United States Constitution was solely designed for a “moral and religious people.”
“Washington said, of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports and John Adams came next and he said, our constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. They knew that it would be important to maintain our system. And that’s why I think we need more of that not an establishment of any national religion, but we need everybody’s vibrant expression of faith, because it’s such an important part of who we are as a nation.”
Since becoming Speaker of the House, Johnson has not been shy in demonstrating his faith to the public. Johnson’s openness that his faith plays a vital role in his politics has predictably drawn harsh criticism from the woke left who insist that he is a Christian nationalist.
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