WASHINGTON—The newly elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is a Southern Baptist who has served as a trustee of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was elected to the speakership on Wednesday.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to have been elected the 56th Speaker of the House. Thank you to my colleagues, friends, staff, and family for the unmatched support throughout this process,” Johnson posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Brent Leatherwood, ERLC president, offered his congratulations to Johnson.
“Leading Congress is never an easy task, but it is especially challenging given how fractured the U.S. House of Representatives is at this moment,” Leatherwood said in written comments for Baptist Press. “Mike Johnson, a name familiar to many Southern Baptists, has been tapped to lead the chamber, and I want to offer my personal congratulations to him.”
Johnson comes to the role following weeks of the House’s inability to elect a speaker following the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) on Oct. 3.
McCarthy called Johnson a “friend, fighter and principled conservative” in a post on X.
In a speech on the House floor after his election, Johnson told colleagues he is aware of the gravity of the challenges facing the nation.
“I want to say to the American people, on behalf of all of us here, we hear you,” Johnson said. “We know the challenges you are facing. We know that there is a lot going on in our country, domestically and abroad. We are ready to get to work again to solve those problems, and we will. Our mission here is to serve you well. To restore the people’s faith in this House, in this great and essential institution.
Johnson served as an ERLC trustee from 2004-2012.
Leatherwood said he turned to Johnson in the early days of his role. “… (T)he first meeting I scheduled on Capitol Hill as ERLC president was with him in his office,” Leatherwood said. “It was clear to me he carries an abiding devotion to our convention of churches, subscribes to the principles that are dear to so many Southern Baptists, and has a deep pride in our nation. There is no doubt this will continue in his role as Speaker of the House.”
Johnson is a member of Benton, La., Cypress, where John Fream is senior pastor.
“Mike is the real deal, and God’s hand is all over him and his family,” Fream told Baptist Press. “I am so excited and hopeful for our nation with this great man of God leading. Mike loves his church, his country, his family and his Lord.”
Steve Horn, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, said in comments to Baptist Press: “To have someone with Mike’s intellectual acumen, love for America, principled convictions and Christian worldview as Speaker of the House gives me great hope.
“This is an exciting day for Louisiana,” Horn continued. “This is an exciting day for Louisiana Baptists. More than anything, this is an exciting day for America.”
Prayers for the future
Also in his speech Wednesday, Johnson referred to God’s sovereignty and pledged to uphold the nation’s founding principles.
“The world is in turmoil, but a strong America is good for the entire world,” he said. “We are the beacon of freedom, and we must he preserve this grand experiment in self-governance. … We are only 247 years into this grand experiment, and we don’t know how long it will last. But we do know the founders told us to take good care of it.
“… I don’t believe there are any coincidences. … I believe that Scripture and the Bible is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you. … I believe each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great country, and they deserve it. And to ensure that our republic remains standing as the great beacon of light and hope and freedom in a world that desperately needs it.”
Both Horn and Leatherwood encourage people to pray for Johnson.
“He deserves our earnest prayers, along with all of our political leaders, as many significant decisions lie ahead about America’s future and its role in the consequential events occurring across the globe,” Leatherwood said. “Clear-eyed leadership, based in reality, that works to build consensus around these issues is needed now as much as ever from the Speaker’s chair.”
Photo credit: Screen capture from C-SPAN by Baptist Press