Throwback to civility & a Christian political ethos
By Christian Lewis
Christian: You led a bipartisan group of congressman to sign the “Commitment to Civility.” What was this document?
Rep. Johnson: In early January, all the new members of Congress discussed how each of us lamented the vitriolic tone in Washington, and how we would like to change it. I thought we could make a real impact if we somehow memorialized that idea—almost like a written contract between ourselves and the American people. Both Republicans and Democrats, from deep red and deep blue districts all across the country—enthusiastically agreed to sign their names to the document I compiled.
Christian: Pres. Trump called Washington “a swamp” during the campaign. Through what means is pressure exerted on you to vote on a given bill?
Rep. Johnson: The pressure upon members of Congress to influence key votes can be quite intense. During the recent debate over health care reform, for example, conservatives like me who were pushing for important amendments to the original American Health Care Act bill were being pressured from all sides.
I was lobbied intensely by stakeholders across the spectrum and I was personally called by the President, and later summoned to meet with him and Vice President Pence at the White House. The stakes on some of these decisions are so high, and the stress levels are so extreme, I have watched grown men moved to tears during the negotiations. Congress is no place for the faint-at-heart.
Christian: Historically Congress has impeached 15 federal judges, mostly for corruption. Would you advocate for the impeachment of any federal judge who refuses to protect the 5th and 14th amendment right to life of members of minority groups, including the unborn?
Rep. Johnson: Those of us who have dedicated so much of our careers to the pro-life cause, and believe in the sanctity of every human life, are often exasperated by federal judges who deny this most fundamental right to every unborn child. Of course, even African Americans were once denied basic human rights by the highest courts in our land.
In my own career, I have litigated many high profile cases before activist judges who blatantly ignore the plain language of the Declaration and our Constitution. Some of these activists certainly deserve to be removed from their posts, but there is near zero chance there would ever be sufficient support for such a measure. What this highlights is the importance of presidential elections and the proper vetting of all nominees for the federal bench.
Christian: V.P. Pence recently caught heat for stating he would not dine or be alone with another woman. What safeguards do you have in place as a Christian to protect yourself and your family from corrupting influences, and are any of them new ones since being in Washington?
Rep. Johnson: I follow the same “Billy Graham Rule” that Mike Pence practices, and I always have. Having served on the front lines of the “culture war” for almost 20 years, I have been conditioned to be on guard against corrupting influences. The ones in Washington are the same as those at the State Capitol and through religious liberty work in the courts. In these roles, we are wise to surround ourselves with other principled Christian people and always do our best to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Christian: Have you found Christian fellowship with any other congressmen?
Rep. Johnson: I’ve been delighted by the deep Christian commitment of many fellow members of Congress. We meet together regularly for prayer and in various Bible study groups, and openly discuss our faith, accountability and the application of Biblical principle to our work. This has been one of the most encouraging, and frankly surprising, things about serving in Congress.
Christian: Have you set any self-imposed term limits on your time in Congress?
Rep. Johnson: I have already co-sponsored two term limits bills. I think a rule should be adopted across the board, but until we can get it passed, I am concerned it would be a disadvantage to my district for me to impose a specific limit on myself only.
That said, I have no particular aspiration or intention of a long career in Congress, or in any higher office. I learned a long time ago that we can trust God to direct our every next step, so long as we are faithful in the little things He puts before us each day. It is much more liberating to walk by faith than by our own grand plans.