President Mike Johnson calls separation of church and state ‘a misnomer’ | Michael Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson has delivered his verdict on the separation of church and state: it is a “misnomer.”

The second in line for presidential candidates informed Americans Tuesday that their traditional conception of one of the country’s founding principles was a “misunderstanding.” speaking to CNBC Squawk Boxtried to turn conventional wisdom on its head about the founders’ intentions and claimed that what they really wanted was to prevent the government from interfering with religion, not the other way around.

“The separation of church and state is a misnomer,” the speaker said in an interview with the television station from the US Capitol. “People misunderstand it. Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote. “It is not in the constitution.”

Johnson was referring to Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, written in 1802 when the third president was in the White House. He makes clear that the founding fathers subscribed to a powerful separation between church and state, which they enshrined in the establishment clause of the first amendment.

Jefferson in his letter cites the Establishment Clause which says that Congress shall “make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” He goes on to say that he builds “a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Johnson’s controversial comments coincide with years of efforts on his part to bring Christianity to the center of American politics. He New York Times has called him the first Christian nationalist to hold the powerful position of spokesman.

Mike Johnson and other Republican members of Congress kneel in prayer in the House chamber on January 6, 2023. Photograph: Jon Cherry/Reuters

In the CNBC interview, Johnson was asked to explain the unusual sight of him praying alongside a group of other members of Congress on their knees on the House floor shortly after being sworn in as president.

He has made no attempt to obscure his religious fervor. He told Fox News that anyone who wanted to know what he thought on any issue should “pick up a Bible off their shelf and read it; that’s my worldview.”

This vision of the world even goes so far as to present the United States not as a democracy but as a “biblical” republic, as he stated in a interview 2016. Before entering politics as a member of the Louisiana Legislature in 2015, he worked for many years as chief counsel for the extremist Alliance Defense Fund.

The same group, renamed Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), led attacks on LGBTQ+ rights before the US Supreme Court and played a major role in overturning abortion rights in the court’s Dobbs decision.

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