Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson is a hardcore Christian nationalist who has a history of spouting extreme right-wing views — including on mass shootings. The Louisiana Republican’s record on guns has come under scrutiny in the wake of a shooter killing at least 18 people in Maine on Wednesday, and in addition to opposing gun control legislation, the man who is now second in line for the presidency has blamed mass shootings on both teaching evolution and abortion.
During a 2016 sermon at the Christian Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, Johnson said that a “series of cultural shifts” in the United States — led by “elites” and “academics” in the 1930s who were engaging with the theories of Charles Darwin — erased the influence of Christian thinking and creationism from society.
“People say, ‘How can a young person go into their schoolhouse and open fire on their classmates?’” Johnson asked the audience. “Because we’ve taught a whole generation — a couple generations now — of Americans, that there’s no right or wrong, that it’s about survival of the fittest, and [that] you evolve from the primordial slime. Why is that life of any sacred value? Because there’s nobody sacred to whom it’s owed. None of this should surprise us.”
Johnson blaming school shootings on teaching evolution was first identified by Meidas Touch.
Earlier in the sermon, Johnson had discussed the necessity of a creationist view of life. “If [the theory of evolution] is true, there really probably isn’t a God anyway, right? There really isn’t a creator,” Johnson said. “So remember when the founders said ‘God’s up here and he’s transcendent and all men are down here.’ Well [the academics] just erased God from the equation entirely.” He said that when there is no creator, “then that means that man gets to make all the decisions,” and that the the infiltration of this philosophy into government and schools had begun to “teach a generation of Americans that there really isn’t any God, and there really isn’t any right and wrong.”
Johnson has used a similar argument to blame school shootings on abortion.
In 2015, Johnson, then a lawyer in Louisiana fighting for increased abortion restrictions, told Irin Carmon of New York magazine that “many women use abortion as a form of birth control, you know, in certain segments of society, and it’s just shocking and sad, but this is where we are. When you break up the nuclear family, when you tell a generation of people that life has no value, no meaning, that it’s expendable, then you do wind up with school shooters.”
Johnson’s religious fundamentalism has been a hallmark of his life and career. He’s advocated for the return of prayer in public schools, derided the “so-called separation of church and state” on the House floor, and argued that the nation’s founders did not establish the separation to prevent religion from influencing government, but rather to impede the government from restricting the influence and free exercise of religion.
The new House Speaker is also a diehard Trump supporter who worked to overturn the 2020 election, and so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that he doesn’t view the United States as a democracy. As Johnson once said, “We don’t live in a democracy, because a democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner. It’s not just majority rule, it’s a constitutional republic, and the founders set that up because they followed the biblical definition of what a civil society is supposed to look like.”