The wife of newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Kelly Johnson, has found herself at the center of a heated controversy after documents on her company’s website sparked outrage. Onward Christian Counseling Services, which promotes Bible-based pastoral counseling, featured an operating agreement that equated homosexuality with bestiality and incest. This revelation has prompted intense scrutiny and raised questions about the involvement of Speaker Johnson in crafting the company’s contentious bylaws.
The Contentious Operating Agreement: The 2017 operating agreement of Onward Christian Counseling Services unequivocally stated that any sexual activity outside the confines of a heterosexual marriage is deemed sinful and offensive to God. It categorically placed individuals identifying as gay, bisexual, or transgender in the same bracket as those engaged in bestiality and incest. This document also emphasized the sanctity of human life from conception through natural death.
Swift Backlash and Website Removal: The revelation of these beliefs triggered swift backlash, with HuffPost’s report leading to widespread condemnation. Kelly Johnson ultimately decided to take down the website, removing access to the contentious operating agreement. The decision came within a day of the report, indicating the significant impact of the public’s response.
Speakers Johnsons’ Joint Endeavors: The Johnsons have a history of working together in both their political and business ventures. In the 1990s, they played a prominent role in advocating for Louisiana’s new marriage covenant law, garnering national attention. More recently, they co-hosted a podcast called “Truth Be Told,” where they discuss conservative Christian perspectives on political and social issues.
Mike Johnson’s Role in the Company’s Bylaws: It remains unclear to what extent Speaker Johnson was involved in formulating the bylaws of his wife’s company. His signature as the notary on the document suggests a degree of involvement, albeit not one requiring a detailed understanding of its contents. The striking similarity between the language used in the document and that of a “model bylaws for churches” document from Freedom Guard, an organization founded by Speaker Johnson, raises further questions about his potential influence.
Freedom Guard’s Controversial Stances: Speaker Johnson’s association with Freedom Guard, a nonprofit organization focused on “contending for the Christian faith through strategic litigation,” adds another layer of complexity to this controversy. In 2015, Johnson defended a creationist group seeking tax incentives for a Noah’s Ark-themed amusement park. He also offered pro bono legal services to public officials who opposed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on marriage equality.
Conclusion: The controversy surrounding Kelly Johnson’s company and its bylaws underscores the complex interplay between personal beliefs, public office, and constitutional principles. As discussions surrounding freedom of religion and LGBTQ+ rights continue to evolve, Speaker Johnson’s affiliations and his wife’s company have become focal points for a broader conversation on the intersection of faith and governance.