Mike Johnson


Interviewer Tony Perkins: My guest today on November 27, 2020 is Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana's 4th Congressional District, outgoing chairman of the Republican Study Committee, and a longtime friend. We were talking about your journey into politics. In fact, I remember we have done this together. We have done a course, we have taught on God and Government, I did that course years ago and you and Kelly were in that. I do not want to put words in your mouth but engagement in the culture is really an extension of our faith and I think that is the way you have approached it.

Mike Johnson: Well, that is exactly right. You know, the way we explain it to people and we still lead that God and Government seminar, Kelly and I do that on Sunday evening. The churches around our region are trying to explain these concepts to God's people because so many people have misconceptions about it. But the way I explain it is that John 3:16 is the beginning, not the end. When we accept Christ and we put on that mantle, so to speak, to Him, and many gifts you have given much than expected and God called it as The Great Commission has to go ye forth, of course share that good news and make disciples of all the nations, but there is a cultural commission that goes along with that as well.

   As we have always explained that you do not put that light under a bushel basket, take it out and you have it influenced in the culture and the world around you. You try to bring the principles of righteousness and truth and brotherly love to bear in every sphere of influence that you have. God gives everything we want as a platform. Some people are in politics, some people do any manner of career and hobbies in your neighborhood, wherever you are, we are all called to be faithful and to live out those principles. We are blessed to be able to do it in Congress right now but as I say all the time, God calls us [inaudible] and I will do that with equal fervor, I just want to be faithful in the ways to perform it.

Tony: Well, and that is in keeping with the word, "Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God," and that is, I think, we are to do everything. In fact, that is the Protestant work ethic, is that our work is a part of our worshipping. We do that as unto the Lord not as unto men. You served a term in the legislature, as I mentioned, prior to that, you were constitutional attorney at almost every level for pro-life and religious freedom cases. We talk about that many times in the program, the threats to Religious Freedom in this country. When you came to Congress, what surprised you most about your time in Congress?

Mike: Yeah, I am often asked that question. And you know, it is really my answer is kind of as that one is the most surprising thing to me when I came to Congress has the same surprise that I had when I was elected to the state legislature down Louisiana. And that is that I went to the house floor both at Baton Rouge and ultimately in Washington, and I was surprised to see that many members of Congress were elected to serve and they do not truly have a fully-formed philosophy of government.

   Some of them are not even crystal clear on what their worldview is and so it has an effect on their work and the decisions they make and you know, people often reflect certain elected officials to be all over the map. They can be for one issue one day and onto the opposite thing three weeks later. And the reason is, as you all know Tony, is that many people are elected to office, and they are not really sure what it is they are trying to advance. If you do not have a fully-formed philosophy of government, if you do not have your principles, that it is down your foundation step before you get there, then you are going to be dragged all the influences that are out there.

   So that to me is the most surprising and in the most concerning honestly, and so we have been working since I got to Congress and to try to advance these principles and to encourage others to do the same. To remember, you know, what does it mean to be a Christian in public service? What does it mean to be a conservative first? These basic principles that have always defined as individual freedom and limited government and the rule of law and peace through strength, physical responsibility, free-market human dignity, I mean, these are essential, foundational principles that define who we are as Americans. So we are there to advance those ideals but more fundamentally, more basic than that is we have to live out our faith. Be true to the Christian principles and that is what we try to do every day.

Tony: And I have found the same observations when I was in the legislature, you see and I see this as I work with members of Congress, people who agonize over decisions. And I know that some decisions, I mean, there are some tough decisions, there is no question about that, but when you have a fully-formed understanding worldview and understanding of the role that government plays, they are not that difficult because you have a set of principles from which you work and I think that is the problem that many people have, as you pointed out, they just do not have that foundation and you make no apologies for the fact that your faith as a Christian helps guide every decision you make.

Mike: Yeah. And we often have to explain to people that that is entirely consistent with our American ideals. It is what the founders said, I mean Washington was the father of our country, he said in his famous Farewell Address, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion, and morality are indispensable support." John Adams, the second president, came back, he said, "You know, our constitution is made only for a moral and religious people is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." What they were trying to say is that we set up a form of government that relies upon a vibrant expression of faith in the public square.

   We rely upon virtue, but you are going to have a self-governing people [inaudible] for the people, as Lincoln later said, is that you have to have this common sense of decency and the only deep bed of that, the only deep bed of virtue is in religious faith. Men have to understand that they owe an allegiance to a Higher Power and they have a judge that is above all others. And that is what has got of our country since its founding, and that is what is going to continue to get it. So we could not, we should not make a policy for it. We should go out and live that boldly and encourage others to do the same.

Tony: Are you concerned about our ability as Americans to live out that faith in such a way that it does impact the world around? Did you see us that freedom being vulnerable?

Mike: It certainly is, you know, in fact when I was doing religious liberty defense work early in my career, early 2000s, I remember we used to go around and I would be invited to do pulpit supply, and we get messages, and churches on Sunday mornings and I would I be up there and I would say, look my little soapbox sermon was, "These are the top five threat to religious freedom in America," this is like 2000, 2001, and people would listen and they would be very intrigued and they would say, "Oh, brother Mike, such a compelling message, but that will never happen in America."

   And all the things that we were all talking about back then, Tony, you were doing the same thing. I heard you in those pulpits and everything that we were concerned about is happening now and we our religious freedom is under assault. It is in peril. That is why you do all the work that you do, you know, the sanctity of human life. All these essential principles are in jeopardy because we have more and more people who are losing sight of this essential truth. I had a mentor when I was really young told me one time he said, "Mike, you know what always remember this, what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular." And we have to remember that even in politics, the highest levels of elected office in the country. That is a pretty simple axiom that everybody needs to follow.

Tony: Yeah, especially in a day and age where polls determined so much but determined it wrong. If anything we should know that polls cannot be trusted. Mike Johnson, I want to step back from the policy side of this, and no, we are not talking about a specific policy, but I wonder how about the family because that is one of the reasons we do what we do. To uphold the sanctity of life, the centrality of the family is created by God. This has been a journey for your wife, Kelly. I mean, when you all got married this was not necessarily on the horizon, how did she feel about this call into the political arena?

Mike: Well, all of us have yet long-suffering spouses to do this work. It is difficult in a family plot kind of way. Kelly and I have four children, as you know, and we have two in college now, and a ninth-grader and a fourth-grader, we have our hands full, and the only way we are able to balance that is just a reliance upon our faith, and our family, and support structure around us. And the knowledge and the understanding that we are both called into it. Now I would not have done this if I was not committed and Kelly was not committed to it and if anything when we first got into public service, when we first got elected to the state legislature, we had our oath of office ceremony six years ago or so, and we had all four of the children come up on a stage with us, and raise their hands as well. We took the oath as a family because we have made a decision as a family.

   And there was a pastor sitting at the back of the back row commented, and he said, “I am telling you, the Lord just spoke to my heart and we have a word for you." "I am telling you when you all were up there; I just saw the light of God around the whole family. The Lord wants you to know something, he wants you to know that he is going to give your children an extra measure of great," that is what he just told me that, "You were called into this arena, you are going to sacrifice a lot of time with them. But God wants you to know He is going to cover them." And I am telling you, Tony, that is our desire. God has done that for our family, our kids. They are all just doing phenomenally well. They are all just talented, bright, and covered. They know who they are, who they serve. They walk in the light of God and I mean that is the greatest weapon. If it were not for that we could not do this. I am grateful to God for it.

Tony: But I also want to point out because I agree with that assessment, both of us have interacted with, I mean, I have known Kelly for just before you were all married, and what I see encouraging is that she partners with you as you do these teachings and she is a part of your ministry. And I think that is important that we involve our families, this is, as you say, it is a family affair. We are all involved in it, but talk a little bit about being a father, about how you have to be intentional in really investing and pouring into the lives of your children.

Mike: Oh, man. Yeah, and it is such a challenge when in Congress, on a typical week, I am required to be in Washington four out of seven days a week so that is another thing you and I have talked about many times over the years because your schedule has been the same way. And when we are home, we are focused and we are so intentional about making that quality time. To make up for the lack of quantity sometimes and there are so many people that are in that scenario because of their jobs, travel, and serve in the military, or on the road for work, or whatever, and we just have to remember that that matter so much to our kids and [inaudible] individual and it takes a lot but it is always worth it and they realize that as well.

Tony: Yeah. Nothing gives a father greater pleasure than to see his children walking with the Lord and seeing that. It really, I know people told me it goes by fast and I said, "Yeah sure," when you are changing diapers or supervising the changing of diapers, my wife did most of the diapers, but if you think it is going to last forever, but it really does not. It goes by so fast and it is a joy to see your kids walking with the Lord. Speaking of kids and young people, what would be your message to those young Christians out there that are contemplating the future and what God might have for them?

Mike: Man, that s a great question. I speak to a lot of young people and
I always tell them to do, you know, some of these things we are talking about tonight is that, they have to be settled in their own world, and what they believe, and what they know, and always, always follow the others. You know the word of God is our guide for life. It will never fail you, God will never forsake you.

   And I like to tell my own kids and I tell others, "You know, it is the calling upon a Christian young person." My son Jack is in ninth grade this year and I said, "Jack, you know, you are leaving eighth grade, you are going in a high school setting." I said, "Listen, I want you to be really intentional about this with, the calling of a Christian young man, or young woman, that you are not called to be a thermometer. You are called to be a thermostat. What does that mean, Jack? What is a thermometer do? Well, the thermometer goes into do environment, takes the temperature and adjusts to it. That is not what we do. Christian young man or woman is called to be an atmosphere changer. To be a thermostat you walk in and you hold that better grace. You live according to that truth that you know and it will change the atmosphere you are in. And people will look into you."

   The deal with this culture right now, people are dying for truth and often they want to know that there really is an absolute. There is a truth. There is a standard. And those handful of people, those faithful ones, that Chronicles 16:9, the eyes of the Lord range throughout the whole earth to seeking those whose hearts are wholly committed. There is only a few in every generation, but if you will do that, God will give you his blessing. He will give you his platform, his promotion principles will sit in place and he will give you things that will amaze everyone to do because it would not you, it will be Him through you. That is a super cool thing.

Tony: That is really good. Mike, on the way out here we are almost out of time, how can our listeners be praying for you and your colleagues?

Mike: Hey, thank you. You know, we are in a philosophical battle for the ages right now. It is a political one, you know, but ultimately really obvious we both know it is a spiritual battle. And it is a battle with huge implications for the future of the country so they requested as you know, there is a lot of strong Christian brothers and sisters who are serving Congress, it is a big group, we meet for Bible study and prayer regularly and all that. They pray for their wisdom, and their stamina, and protection, and stamina for the families as well. That would be key.

Tony: Yeah. Well, we will certainly do that. Mike Johnson, I want to thank you for joining us today and I appreciate your friendship and your faithful service to our nation.

Mike's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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