By Karen Pearce, Regional Reporter
BOSSIER CITY – “You are what’s left of Christianity in America.”
These sobering words were spoken by Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, July 20 to a standing-room-only crowd at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, where more than 200 church leaders gathered to learn next steps after the Supreme Court’s recent marriage ruling threatening religious liberty.
Johnson said recent polls indicated that Louisiana is the most Bible-literate and most church-attending state in the nation, which leads to greater responsibility.
“I really do feel like Louisiana Baptists have a particular responsibility. We shouldn’t take for granted what we have,” he said. “We need to be aware, but not afraid.”
His legal organization, Freedom Guard, is ready to assist any organization that comes under fire.
“On June 26th, five of the nine-member Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges to usurp the authority of the people and force same-sex marriage on all 50 states by judicial fiat,” Johnson said, expressing the outrage of his fellow conservative legislators as they watched years of hard-earned court victories disregarded and over-ruled.
Johnson warned this latest ruling changed the playing field and that future battles will be aimed at the Bible Belt. The three-pronged strategy will include: targeting Christians and their associations, including schools, colleges, businesses and churches; impose fines and penalties and bring legal action against them, and try to intimidate and silence with threats that overstate their powers.
“People who are listening to you are the remnant of the Christian faith in America. It is an incredible responsibility,” Johnson said. “If we lose these next critical battles, it’s over. There is no hope for religious freedom. I’m not overstating. I hope you understand where this is headed.”
But the news isn’t all bad.
“We talk about the gathering storm but we know how the book ends. First Peter 3:15 says to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have. And we know that we have great reason for hope,” Johnson said.
Pulling from the annals of history, Johnson reminded the crowd of the factual account of America’s Christian heritage, quoting the founding fathers and the principles they followed.
“The Bible is part of who we are. It’s part of our DNA,” Johnson said, “but we have this new generation who doesn’t understand our foundations.”
He recapped the cultural shifts of the last 100 years that have taken America from being a Christian nation to being a post-Christian one, clarifying how the decisions made by the higher courts in the early 20th century trickled down over the next few decades to create a society that has no moral absolutes. He reminded listeners that they still have rights and should not be intimidated by political activists.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. John Fleming was also in attendance and spoke in agreement with Johnson.
“What Washingtonians want to do is push us inside our churches and make us lock the doors, embarrassed to come out. And once we’re in there, they want to come at us even there,” he said. “We’re going from a post-Christian culture to a pre Christian-persecution culture – very rapidly. It’s happening much faster than I could’ve ever imagined.”
Johnson gave practical suggestions on how to protect Christian institutions from the coming storm. Every church and Para-church organization needs a statement of faith, stated religious employment criteria, a facility-use policy, a formal membership policy and a mission statement and code of Christian conduct. The more a religious organization has in writing and practice, the more legal grounds they will have in the days ahead.
“Listen, we win more than 80 percent of the cases that we try. The challenge is we need to be on every battlefield, where the truth is challenged. The only way to do that is to be equipped and ready,” he said. “If you have your paperwork in order they won’t target you first.”
Along with preparing legally for what’s ahead, Johnson also emphasized the importance of world-view training for children, quoting a Columbia University survey three years ago that said nine out of ten Christian students abandon the religious faith of their parents when they go to college.
‘The Bible has to serve as an analytical grid for how they process what the world and culture is throwing at them at a rapid pace. It’s not the same world you grew up in,” he said. “Discipleship is the answer. We’ve got to have a spiritual revival in this country. It’s the only solution.”
Lastly, Johnson and Fleming both emphasized the importance of electing the right people. Fleming said that for the first time in 100 years, there are full services every week in the basement of the capital of the United States and that there are many Bible studies.
“There are very alive Christians there, we’re just outnumbered,” Fleming said. “We need for you to be thinking about that when you go to the ballot box – who are you voting for and what do they stand for? Elections have consequences.”
Johnson agreed, “The next president will probably elect three Supreme Court Justices, and that is the longest legacy by far of any president – some of them serve for forty years in the court. We cannot overstate the importance of that.”
Johnson and the Freedom Guard plan to do four more meetings around the state in the next few weeks to answer the questions generated by the new Supreme Court rulings, his primary message being one of encouragement to stand strong.
“This is not a time to stay in our safe four walls. They are going to break those walls down and prevent your ability to pass this on to your children and grandchildren. We don’t serve a namby-pamby God but Jesus said we’re supposed to be salt and light – go out and engage the culture,” he said.
For more information on how to begin putting legal protections in place for your church or organization, visit Freedom Guard’s website. To follow the rapid changes in legislation, go to Johnson’s Facebook page [www.facebook.com/MikeJohnsonLouisiana].
By Karen Pearce, Regional Reporter