There are few things more frightening to leftist Americans than a Christian conservative who has political power. That's why the unexpected, out of the blue rise to power of Rep. Mike Johnson sent shock waves through the left, as if to say, "These religious fanatics are trying to take over the country! Soon they'll be imposing the Christian version of Sharia on every American! Danger!
Johnson even had the temerity to say this in an interview with Sean Hannity, "I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media, they said, 'It's curious, people are curious: What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?' I said, 'Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That's my worldview.'" Oh, the horror!
To be sure, countless political leaders in American history, including many of our presidents, also extolled the Scriptures. In the words of Abraham Lincoln in 1864, when presented with a Bible by "loyal colored people" in Baltimore, "In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. To you I return my most sincere thanks for the very elegant copy of the great Book of God which you present."
More recently, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, "Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible. ... These shared beliefs helped forge a sense of common purpose among the widely dispersed colonies—a sense of community which laid the foundation for the spirit of nationhood that was to develop in later decades. The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers' abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible's teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual."
But that was different (although, to be sure, many on the left openly expressed their concerns about Reagan's ties to the religious right). That was before the rise of the ever present, always in the shadows, Christian movement called "NAR" – short for the New Apostolic Reformation. Yes, it is NAR that is trying to take over the world, and Mike Johnson is part of NAR. This really is frightful!
Yes, Johnson is "the most Christian nationalist speaker in history" and is actually a "false prophet." Indeed, according to Rolling Stone, "The newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation—which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state." Americans, beware!
Are you ready to connect the dots?
We are informed that "there's a flag hanging outside his office that leads into a universe of right-wing religious extremism as unknown to most Americans as Johnson was before he ascended to the speakership"
This would be the "Appeal to Heaven" flag, of which Rolling Stone says, "Historically, this flag was a Revolutionary War banner, commissioned by George Washington as a naval flag for the colony turned state of Massachusetts. The quote 'An Appeal to Heaven' was a slogan from that war, taken from a treatise by the philosopher John Locke. But in the past decade it has come to symbolize a die-hard vision of a hegemonically Christian America."
I first heard about this flag with the publication of books by Dutch Sheets, "An Appeal To Heaven: What Would Happen If We Did It Again?" (2015) and Jennifer LeClaire, "The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening" (2017)—yes, a spiritual awakening, not a Christian takeover. The concept was that American leaders in the past looked to God for mercy and help in times of need, recognizing that our only appeal was to heaven. The same must happen again in our day there must be a fresh move of God, another great awakening—if our nation is to survive. Our only hope is an appeal to heaven!
Not so, say Bradley Onishi and Matthew D. Taylor, authors of the Rolling Stone article. Instead, "To understand the contemporary meaning of the Appeal to Heaven flag, it's necessary to enter a world of Christian extremism animated by modern-day apostles, prophets and apocalyptic visions of Christian triumph that was central to the chaos and violence of Jan. 6. Earlier this year we released an audio-documentary series, rooted in deep historical research and ethnographic interviews, on this sector of Christianity, which is known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The flag hanging outside Johnson's office is a key part of its symbology."
And despite a spokesman for Johnson stating that the flag was simply a gift to him from another congressman, Onishi and Taylor are not buying it: "It is simply untenable to think that Johnson is unaware of what the Appeal to Heaven flag signals today. It represents an aggressive, spiritual-warfare style of Christian nationalism, and Johnson is a legal insurrectionist who has deeply tied himself into networks of Christian extremists whose rhetoric, leadership and warfare theology fueled a literal insurrection."
America, beware! Your beloved country is about to be turned into a religious state.
The truth to be told, reports of the nefarious activities of "NAR" are grossly exaggerated, both in terms of numbers, influence and goals. And while I certainly have differences with some of the leaders referenced in Rolling Stone, most of the Christian leaders I know who work in politics are no different than their colleagues on the left.
Both are working within the political, democratic system to advance their values and goals. Those on the left have their vision for what is best for America while those on the right have a different vision. But I do not personally know a single, significant, evangelical leader who wants to impose a theocracy on America. Not one.
As for Christians working to change the educational system, that's exactly what the left has been doing for decades, with disastrous results. But that's what every group does. We seek to convince others that that our convictions and beliefs and values are in the best interest of the nation, and we do our best to live those values out and to influence others. What is so wrong about that?
Without a doubt, Johnson is a deeply committed, Christian conservative, and without a doubt, he would love to see more Americans embrace the best aspects of our national Christian heritage.
But, aside from praying for God's intervention in our nation—this is something every generation has done—he is committed to working within the political process. Even his attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 election were done in this spirit, ultimately stepping back from that pursuit as the courts refused to reexamine the elections.
In today's climate, however, Johnson is the most dangerous Speaker of the House we have ever had, part of a conspiratorial plot to take over the nation and impose a fundamentalist version of Christian over every American.
You can expect this fear mongering, alarmist approach to become more shrill in the days ahead. Be prepared to respond with patience and with truth. Perhaps, over time, our fellow-citizens will realize that the alarmists are just crying wolf.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.