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Follow-up: New House Speaker Was ERLC Trustee, Also Helped Kill Anti-Abortion Bill in Louisiana

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Earlier today, I wrote an article expressing “cautious optimism” on the election of the new Republican Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson. Johnson, a Southern Baptist, is being heralded by many conservatives as “the most conservative” speaker in U.S. History. Upon further research, it appears the caution in that “cautious optimism” is more than warranted. Here’s more of what we found.

Mike Johnson served as a trustee for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for eight years, from 2004 to 2012​. Over the years, the ERLC has been instrumental in killing legislation that would end abortion in several states. Current ERLC president, Brent Leatherwood, sung Johnson’s praises yesterday in comments to the Baptist Press.

“Leading Congress is never an easy task, but it is especially challenging given how fractured the U.S. House of Representatives is at this moment,” Leatherwood said. “Mike Johnson, a name familiar to many Southern Baptists, has been tapped to lead the chamber, and I want to offer my personal congratulations to him.”

Brent Leatherwood and the ERLC opposed a strong Louisiana bill that sought to criminalize women for undergoing abortions, contributing to the bill’s eventual revamping by lawmakers to remove criminal penalties. The opposition from Leatherwood and the ERLC showcased a rift in the anti-abortion community and played a key role in deterring the progression of legislation that would have set a precedent in anti-abortion laws across the nation.

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Brent Leatherwood, despite his ostensible stance for unborn rights, has recurrently hindered legislation aimed at curbing abortion. His latest intervention was against a Missouri bill banning abortions post-fetal heartbeat detection, which despite its legislative support, met with opposition due to a National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) letter against criminalizing abortion, signed by Leatherwood.

These aren’t isolated incidents—Leatherwood and the ERLC, by deeming certain anti-abortion bills as too extreme or legally frail, have thwarted these bills arguing that social support rather than legislation should render abortion “unnecessary.”

To make matters worse, anti-abortion abolitionist leaders have implicated Mike Johnson as being instrumental in the killing of the Louisiana bill. While Johnson was not serving as a trustee of the ERLC during this time, according to Reformed apologist, James White, Johnson was instrumental in killing a Louisiana bill that would have outlawed abortion and penalized mothers for having one.

I’ve written on this topic extensively and noted how the mainstream pro-life movement has repeatedly compromised on abortion legislation in favor of pragmatism and “keeping the peace” with liberals. To add salt on these wounds, it appears that Johnson has also fully embraced the culture of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. In an interview with PBS, Mike Johnson unveiled a narrative that is emblematic of the erosion of conservative values in favor of a victimhood narrative.

Mike Johnson peddles the worn-out narrative of systemic racial disparities by comparing the experiences of his two 14-year-old sons, attributing supposed hardships faced by his black son, Michael, solely to his skin color while suggesting his white son, Jack, will have an easier path. He laments this perceived reality, urging for “systematic change” and “transformative solutions,” evoking the Constitution to validate his stance, all the while sidestepping the conservative ethos of personal responsibility and meritocracy.

This narrative mirrors the distortions peddled by the woke factions within the church, notably emanating from platforms like the ERLC. The discourse around white privilege and intersectionality has been a Trojan Horse, maneuvering through the gates of the church, sowing seeds of division, and detracting from the central message of personal salvation and transformation. The implications of Johnson’s views are not just confined to a social commentary but echo a larger, concerning trend of replacing the fundamental, biblically-rooted conservative doctrines with fleeting, culture-bound theories that are as divisive as they are unfounded.

Brian Gunter, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Livingston, LA, who was also instrumental in bringing forth the proposed abolitionist legislation in Louisiana has vowed to present a resolution, titled Resolution on Equal Protection at the Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention next month. The resolution affirms that “an individual human life begins at the moment God combines the reproductive cell of a man with that of a woman and begins the process of forming the body of the child in the womb—biblically called conception and biologically called fertilization.”

Gunter’s resolution would also call on the Lousiana Baptist Convention to rebuke the ERLC and the other signers of the open letter to state legislators for opposing the anti-abortion legislation. The resolution reads:

RESOLVED: that we denounce the May 12, 2022, “Open Letter to State Lawmakers From America’s Leading Pro-Life Organizations,” which (1) instructed legislators to permit pregnant women to kill their preborn children without legal consequence and (2) has been utilized by lobbyists and politicians in various states to hinder the progress of bills that would have established equal protection for preborn children, and we reprove the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC for co-signing the open letter

I think we’re beginning to see why compromised men like Brent Leatherwood are praising Johnson. Again, while we still hold cautious optimism that he may still lead the House as a conservative, we can’t stress enough that the caution in that “optimism” is crucially needed. As we find more information, we will keep you updated.


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