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Mike Johnson says Americans ‘misunderstand’ separation of church and state

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House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Tuesday that the notion of separation of church and state is a “misnomer” and that the nation demands “the vibrant expression of faith of each one.”

Johnson made the comments in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” after host Andrew Ross Sorkin asked about a image of lawmaker praying on the House floor earlier this year.

“When the founders established this system, they wanted a vibrant expression of their faith in the public square because they believed that general moral consensus and virtue were necessary,” Johnson said. “Separation of church and state is a misnomer, people misunderstand it. »

“Of course it comes from a phrase that was in a letter written by Jefferson, it’s not in the Constitution,” he continued. “And what he was explaining was that they didn’t want the government to encroach on the Church – not that they didn’t want the principles of the faith to have an influence on our public life. It’s exactly the opposite.

Johnson, a religious conservative, was elected president last month and quickly drew concern from Democrats for his efforts to oppose abortion and gay rights. He brought a Bible to the House gallery before taking the oath of office, saying the moment was “very clear: God is the one who exalts those in authority…each of you, all of us.”

“Someone asked me today in the media, ‘People are curious, what does Mike Johnson think about any issue?'” Johnson recalled later in the week on Fox News. “I said, ‘Well, go get a Bible off your shelf and read it.’ This is my view of the world.

On Tuesday, Johnson added that he believed the founders “knew” that religion would be “important in maintaining our system” of democracy.

“That’s why I think we need more of it,” he said. “This is not about the establishment of a national religion, but we need the vibrant expression of everyone’s faith because it is a very important part of who we are as a nation.”

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