A decade-old quote where Speaker Mike Johnson states his belief in humanity’s sinfulness and the biblical purpose of government is drawing criticism and critique from mainstream media and individuals on the Left.
The quote on original sin was uncovered by CNN in a review of his positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, Ten Commandments displays, and LGBT issues, among other things. Most, if not all, of his views are common among social conservatives. Johnson formerly worked for Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group.
“His staunchly conservative rhetoric is rooted in an era of ‘biblical morality,’ that he says was washed away with the counterculture in the 1960s,” the CNN story says.
The CNN story then quotes Johnson on sin.
“One of the primary purposes of the law in civil government is to restrain evil,” Johnson said in 2010, according to CNN. “We have to acknowledge collectively that man is inherently evil and needs to be restrained.”
CNN described his faith-guided views as a “particularly subtle brand of fire-and-brimstone.”
The quote on humanity’s sinfulness even made it into the CNN headline: “Mike Johnson’s America: Revisit landmark SCOTUS decisions and use government to ‘restrain evil’”
His comments about sin were ridiculed at the left-leaning website Daily Kos, which said his views are “not what most Americans believe, nor is it reality.”
“The idea that human beings are ‘inherently evil’ is a fundamentalist Christian one; we are all depraved sinners without hope unless we accept our depravity and call on Jesus to save us,” Daily Kos said. “This is Luther and Calvin. This is Jonathan Edwards thundering at ‘sinners in the hands of angry God.’”
Radar Online labeled Johnson’s views of humans as evil “shocking.”
Johnson’s views, though, are part of historic Christianity and are based on such biblical texts as Psalm 14:3 (“all have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one”) and Romans 3:23 (“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”).
Origen, a church father who lived in the third century, once wrote, “Our free will … or human nature is not sufficient to seek God in any manner.”
Christians on social media defended Johnson.
“Talk about speaking from ignorance,” one person wrote. “This is basic Christian theology. The most basic.”
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Win McNamee / Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.