By Will Hall, Message Editor
WASHINGTON —Two of Louisiana’s three newest elected U.S. officials recently spoke with the Baptist Message to share their thoughts about the wholesale change of attitude in the White House with regard to respect for the life of the unborn since the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States, with both men commenting on the participation of the vice president in the March for Life, Jan. 27, in Washington, D.C., as historic.
“I’ve gotten to know Vice President Pence, starting with my campaign. He’s a godly man and believes as I do that every life is precious,” Sen. John Kennedy said. “He is soft-spoken, but he knows who he is and he knows what he believes, and, he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes.”
Kennedy garnered nearly two-thirds of the runoff vote, Dec. 10, to represent the state in the Senate. Likewise, his counterpart in the House, Mike Johnson, also won with a landslide margin, and now serves as Louisiana’s representative from the U.S. 4th Congressional District.
Rep. Johnson said it was “a shame that it took 44 years for someone of his stature to appear,” and he said all the pro-life advocates who had worked “so many years in this arena” celebrated the fact Pence was at the national March for Life with the blessing of the new president.
“I truly believe as [Pence] said, that this administration is ‘wholeheartedly committed’ to the issue of life,” Johnson added. “I believe this could be the greatest year for the pro-life cause in a half century.”
With that regard, both men already have signed onto significant legislation to protect the life of the unborn.
“I’m co-sponsoring two bills,” Kennedy shared. “The first is the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would establish a permanent government-wide prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion.”
“The second one, Life at Conception Act, is equally, if not more important because it takes up the issue the Supreme Court identified when it handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade,” Kennedy expounded.
“The Court said then it would not speculate as to the question, ‘When does life begin?’” he continued. “But the Court said if that is ever established, Roe v. Wade would collapse because the unborn would have to be protected under the 14th Amendment. Our bill would establish when life begins.”
Johnson is co-sponsor for HR 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, which is the House effort to make the Hyde Amendment permanent. He said it would ensure “not a cent of taxpayer dollars” could be used for abortions.
“There are a number of landmark pro-life measures that will be brought forward by the House in the coming months,” he said. “I’ll be involved in those as well, and I think that we will be able to get at least some of these passed in the Senate.”
Moreover, he was confident President Trump will sign them.
Kennedy also expressed high hopes for pro-life causes under President Trump, pointing out that eight of 15 cabinet members, some pending confirmation, are avowed Christians.
“We protect every religion, and that’s an important part of our Constitution and our culture,” he said. “But, fundamentally, I believe we are a Christian nation. I believe it’s important to live your religion and in particular to have the principles that underlie Christianity reflected in government.
“I’m proud of the fact that Mr. Trump has picked so many Christians to be his close advisers,” Kennedy stated. “This is a new day for America – if we take advantage of it.”
Johnson expressed similar sentiments about President Trump’s team, calling them “the strongest cabinet, perhaps ever,” and also noted the favor Christians now enjoy with the White House. “God has spared us and He’s given us this opportunity, and now we have to be faithful. We have to do our duty.”
“The only way to get America back on the right track is to live out our principles in the public square — share the Gospel and be salt and light in every arena, including the arena of the government and public policy,” he explained.
Johnson shared an anecdote about the vice president to make his point.
Pence spoke to Republican lawmakers at an event in Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 26.
“He was talking about how humbling it was to take his oath on the Bible that was owned by Ronald Reagan,” Johnson recounted. “He was handling it very gently, of course, and he said he opened the front of the Bible and saw on the inside cover where Ronald Reagan had inscribed in his own hand the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14. He closed his remarks to us by saying, ‘If we will be faithful, we can make America great again, by God’s grace, and as the Scripture says “He will heal our land if we’ll do our part.”’”
“That’s the challenge for us and I think particularly for Louisiana Baptists,” Johnson concluded. “We recognize that we have an affirmative obligation to advance the principles of righteousness, truth and brotherly love in the culture — and if we are faithful to fulfill that obligation, God will honor our obedience.”
John Kennedy is a member of North Cross United Methodist Church in Madisonville, La.
Mike Johnson is a member of First Baptist Church in Bossier City, La.