House Speaker Mike Johnson has defended the ‘Judeo-Christian tradition’ as key to Western civilization while laying out an optimistic vision for the future.
By Tom Ozimek
In his first international speech, newly appointed House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) laid out several key concepts for delivering an “optimistic vision” for the future of America, including drawing on the “Judeo-Christian tradition” that he said has helped guide the “extraordinary heritage” of Western civilization.
Mr. Johnson made the remarks in a virtual speech he gave on Oct. 30 to the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship’s inaugural conference in London.
“I believe God brings leaders together to address certain challenges,” he told the audience, with his remarks recalling his first speech last week as House Speaker, in which he told his fellow lawmakers in Congress he believes that “God is the one that raises up those in authority” and that “each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great nation.”
Mr. Johnson’s unapologetically theistic world view has ruffled some feathers on the left. For instance, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized Mr. Johnson in an episode of “Inside With Jen Psaki” on Sunday, labelling him as a “religious fundamentalist” and “a bit of a humblebrag” for saying that he feels called upon by God to serve his country.
But far from backing down in the face of criticism, Mr. Johnson defended his faith and the contribution that the values that underpin it have had on Western civilization in his speech on Monday.
After expressing his belief that divine forces are at play when leaders are brought together to address challenges, he said that now is the time to “begin the challenging work of pushing back on the failed visions that currently plague the West.”
Some of the problems gripping America and vexing Western civilization include bad governance on the part of political leaders, a lack of public confidence in institutions, deep and destructive political divisions, and a “crisis of identity” in the West as a whole.
A ‘Better Story’
Citing “unprecedented times,” Mr. Johnson laid out a number of key questions that need to be answered if an “optimistic vision” and “better story” for the world is to come to fruition.
These include how to restore good governance and faith in institutions, how to strengthen the social fabric and refocus on the family, how to provide cheap and reliable energy, and how to persuade people that finding the answers to these questions “are the key to greater human flourishing across the globe.”
He said that, today, a lack of a “necessary” common narrative and moral framework that can bind people together is behind the many problems facing the world, including tensions flaring in various hotspots like the Middle East, Taiwan, and Ukraine.
Mr. Johnson referred to the current turning point in history as a “civilizational moment” that, if approached the wrong way, could lead civilization to collapse.
“We will lose our critical connection to our foundational principles if we answer this question the wrong way,” he said.
“If we enter it the right way, it will lead to a renewal, rather than a replacement or the ultimate decline of our civilization,” he continued.
Saying that America—and the world—faces a unique opportunity to “choose renewal,” he called on a renewed focus on greater responsibility from government to the people, and a bigger sense of individual purpose found in contributing to make the world a better place.
“Finally, and most importantly, our better story says that we in the West draw on an extraordinary heritage built of the best of the classical liberal and the Judeo-Christian tradition,” Mr. Johnson said.
“These are not just political ideas. These are foundational principles which have governed our public debate for centuries, and which we would do well to remember,” he said.
Mr. Johnson’s speech comes after Republicans elected him unanimously to the top job in the lower chamber, capping off weeks of GOP infighting.
His election seems to have reignited a renewed focus for party members to coalesce around their shared vision for America.
Some members of Congress addressed his election in remarks on the House floor a day after the vote, as the new speaker wielded the gavel for the first time.
“What an extraordinary day that we have the beginning of the speakership of Mike Johnson of Louisiana,” Mr. Wilson said, adding that the speaker has sounded a clarion call for Republicans to rally around conservative principles like limited government, expanded freedoms, and less red tape.
“It’s such a positive message,” Mr. Wilson said. “He’s going to stop the war on fossil fuels so that we have fuels and have energy independence. He’s going to be for a strong America.”
“We will have a dynamic speaker and we look forward to his leadership. And again, America is back on track,” he said.
His speech also comes as Israel has expanded its ground operation in Gaza in response to Hamas terror attacks that killed some 1,400 Israelis several weeks ago, with fears that the conflict could spill across the region, destabilizing the Middle East and drawing in the United States, a key ally.