Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 28, 2024

How Speaker Mike Johnson’s Faith Changed His Path On Ukraine

NOTUS, How Mike Johnson’s Faith Changed His Path on Ukraine:

JohnsonFor House Speaker Mike Johnson, the fight to get new aid to Ukraine was as much a religious question as it was about policy — and it offered the clearest window into how his Southern Baptist faith has influenced his decision-making since claiming the gavel.

Johnson wrestled over the legislation in prayer, according to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, who said he was with Johnson the night before he chose to bring up the aid after weeks of stalling.

“He doesn’t wear it on his sleeve, but he got down on his knees, and he prayed for guidance and said, ‘Look, tell me. What is the right thing to do here?’” McCaul said of Johnson during a hearing this week. “And he told me the next day: ‘I want to be on the right side of history.’”

Even Johnson’s critics know how pivotal his faith was in bringing the legislation forward. “For Mike Johnson, that’s the truth. It’s a religious decision,” said South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman, who voted against advancing the bill to a floor debate on Friday. “He’s prayed about it. He said that when we met with him.” ...

In a letter last week, four high-profile Baptists — including Dr. Richard Land, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission — urged Johnson to “consider the plight of Christians” in Ukraine. Pastors there have faced threats, torture and removal from their positions by Russian forces, the letter noted.

“Despite Russian efforts to paint Ukraine as intolerant of Christians, it is the Russian government that has aggressively harmed peaceful law abiding faithful Christians in the occupied areas of Ukraine,” the letter added. “The Russian army has destroyed hundreds of Baptist churches where evangelical Christians once exercised their faith freely in Ukraine.” ...

“Seeking God’s wisdom is a good thing, especially with some of the heavy decisions we make up here,” said Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. “At the end of the day, you seek his wisdom, and I think he’s also given us a measure of wisdom. That’s why we have minds and we have wills, and we go from there.”

“God’s given me a measure of wisdom, and for this place and a lot of my colleagues, a hefty measure of grace,” Donalds added.

Christianity Today, Mike Johnson Defies GOP to Heed Evangelical Pleas for Ukraine Aid:

When deciding whether to protect his place in leadership as House speaker or go against his party to do what he believed was right, Mike Johnson turned to prayer.

After weeks of hearing intelligence briefings and pleas from fellow Christians, Johnson ultimately sided with his convictions rather than conceding to the Republican Party’s isolationist wing. He backed a $95 billion foreign aid package that, despite the opposition of 112 GOP legislators, overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last weekend.

Like many of his fellow Republicans, Johnson had initially opposed further aid to Ukraine, voting against it prior to becoming speaker and waiting months to move forward with an aid package after the Senate approved its version in February.

He “went through a transformation,” according to one GOP colleague, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul. The shift may have come in part due to the influence of Ukrainian evangelicals, fellow Christian leaders, and his personal faith.

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