By Hunter Oswald
Mike Johnson’s ascension as House Speaker offers a new path forward.
After twenty-two days of political drama and rancor, America finally has a Speaker of the House. On October 25, House Republicans unanimously elected Louisiana House Representative Mike Johnson to become the 56th House Speaker. Johnson’s ascension to becoming the House Speaker was rather unexpected and historic—prior to Johnson’s nomination, Republicans had nominated three major party members including Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Freedom Caucus Chair Jim Jordan, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, all of who failed to secure enough support to become House Speaker. Mike Johnson is the first from the state of Louisiana to serve as House Speaker and is the youngest Representative to have been elected since 1883.
A New Speaker
Much of the focus on Mike Johnson centers on his relatively unknown background. Yet, Johnson’s ascension as House Speaker offers a deeply refreshing experience for people of faith. In his speech to the House, Johnson gave a passionate appeal to his faith as the foundation of his beliefs.
“I believe that scripture, the Bible, is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority,” said Johnson. “He raised up each of you… God ordained and allowed us to be here for this specific moment in this time.”
Upon hearing Johnson’s words, I felt led to revisit the significant role that faith played in our nation’s history. When looking back at the writings of the Founders and Framers, faith was not only key to living a good and moral life but necessary for maintaining a civil society. In a letter written to the Massachusetts Militia in 1798, John Adams famously said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The structure of America’s constitutionally ordered government and the freedoms we enjoy today are all rooted in the Judeo-Christian ideals.
Our nation’s Judeo-Christian foundation has been the source for much of America’s political identity. Yet its roots have begun to slowly wither. In a 2022 Pew Research report, around 29% of Americans identified as “religiously unaffiliated”, nearly a 24% increase over the past fifty years. According to the report, some scholars argue that “disaffiliation from Christianity is driven by an association between Christianity and political conservatism that has intensified in recent decades.”
Additionally, some have begun to call America’s Judeo-Christian roots a relic of the 20th century. In a 2020 piece for The Atlantic, history professor James Loeffler wrote, “The ‘Judeo-Christian tradition’ was one of 20th-century America’s greatest political inventions. An ecumenical marketing meme for combatting godless communism, the catchphrase long did the work of animating American conservatives in the Cold War battle.” Thinkers like Loeffler seek to portray faith in politics as a means rather than an inspiration, creating a sense that religion is no longer a factor in the American political tradition.
Yet this sentiment couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The problem with many who hold this view is simple. They often fail to consider the full context of the Judeo-Christian principles in the Founders’ worldviews.
One example is the idea of separation of church and state. The Founders ensured no official state religion was made. But that didn’t mean religion would never be part of civic life. Mark David Hall, Distinguished Scholar of Christianity & Public Life at George Fox University, states that “Even though Christianity is not mentioned in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, the Founders of the American republic were influenced by Christian ideas in significant ways.” America is not a theocracy, but rather a nation rooted in the universal truths ingrained in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
A Path Forward
Americans of faith need to recognize that our faith matters more than ever in today’s political culture. As Americans, we must remember our Judeo-Christian roots brought forth a nation built upon a creed. All men, created equal, have certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As Michael Novak points out, “It is important for citizens today whose main inspiration is the Enlightenment and Reason to grasp the religious elements in the founding, which have been understated for a hundred years.”
Adams saw America as made for a moral and religious people. It is our time as faithful Americans to answer the call once more and preserve America’s Judeo-Christian foundation. Does our faith matter in American politics? It matters more today than it ever has before.
About the Author
Hunter Oswald is a senior student studying political science and minoring in economics as well as national security. Hunter is a staff writer for Cogitare Magazine and contributor for the Grove City College Collegian newspaper. He has previously been a member of the Grove City Debate Team.
This past summer, Hunter Oswald interned at the American Spectator. Previously, he completed the Heritage Foundation’s Academy Program, where he studied numerous public policy issues and America’s foundational principles. He aspires to further use his research and analytical skills in helping to inform the public on policy issues that promote and advance America’s principles.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.