Tuesday, May 14, 2024

RE Speaker Mike Johnson and the "Letter"

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The Washington Post says, "When the House passed a $40 billion emergency funding bill for Ukraine in May 2022, support for Ukraine was largely still a bipartisan issue. But a little-known conservative congressman from Louisiana was one of the 57 Republicans to oppose it."

"Now," the Post says, "just six months after his unlikely elevation to speaker of the House, Mike Johnson (R-La.) has pushed through a $60 billion effort to bolster Ukraine’s arsenal, along with funding for Israel and the Indo-Pacific."

Many of us wondered why he seemingly "flip-flopped" on such an important issue.

Be informed, not misled.

The Washington Post labeled his decision as a "major rebuke to former president Donald Trump, who publicly backed Johnson at a recent Mar-a-Lago event but has long criticized Ukraine while repeatedly sympathizing with Russian President Vladimir Putin."

The Post continued, "Johnson appears fully aware of the consequences of his decision to send money to Ukraine for its grinding war against Russia. He made the difficult decision despite threats from an angry and vocal minority of hard-right Republicans — ironically, the ones who helped catapult him into power — who are using their conservative bully pulpit to challenge Johnson and threaten his job."

The Washington Post, the New York Times, and a number of other so-called "legacy" news organizations wrote about how Speaker Mike Johnson came to his conclusion to put through the bi-partisan $40 billion emergency funding for Ukraine.

They noted his deep evangelical faith, commitment to do "the right thing," and several other reasons why he put the bill in front of the House.

 “I really do believe the intel and in the briefings that we’ve gotten,” Johnson said last week. “I believe [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they’re in coordination.”

The Post calls Johnson's decision-making process "an evolution" and concludes, "Ultimately, Johnson put a Ukraine bill on the floor. And he may lose his job because of it."

RE the letter.

On April 10, 2024, Michael Foust published an article under this headline: 

"Russia Is Torturing and Targeting Ukrainian Christians, Leaders Tell Speaker Johnson."

Foust says, "Christian leaders in Ukraine have co-signed a letter to U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson asking him to 'consider the plight' of believers in the nation who are being persecuted and targeted by Russian soldiers."

The letter to Johnson was co-signed by Valerii Antoniu, president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine, and Yaroslav Pyzh, president of Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary. It was also signed by Dan Darling, director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Richard Land, former president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“The Russian government’s decision to invade Ukraine and to target Baptists and other evangelical Christians in Ukraine has been a tragic hallmark of the war."

The letter explains that Russia has tortured “faithful Christians in occupied areas of Ukraine” and has destroyed churches and removed pastors who are not “pro-Russian.” 

Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, according to religious liberty advocates.

“Despite Russian efforts to paint Ukraine as intolerant of Christians, it is the Russian government that has aggressively harmed peaceful law-abiding faithful Christians in the occupied areas of Ukraine,” the letter says.

It asks of Johnson, “As you consider efforts to support Ukraine, we humbly ask that you consider the plight of Christians.”


Clearly, it was a spiritual decision that Speaker Johnson made, not a political one. 

I think all of the information that affected Johnson's decision was finalized by the letter and this personal story. 

Baptist Press recently spotlighted a Ukrainian Baptist pastor who suffered at the hands of Russian soldiers. The pastor, “Azat,” said the soldiers beat him so badly that he lost teeth and had internal organ damage.

Russian soldiers captured him as he was delivering humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

“I had a bag on my head and my hands were handcuffed to my legs. Electric wires were connected to my genitals. They beat me with batons, an iron pipe, a wooden stick,” Azat said. “They mocked me and asked me how I became a traitor to the faith of my fathers and grandfathers by becoming Baptist. I am a Baptist and for Russians, Baptists are American spies. They call us ‘foreign agents.’”

The soldiers asked Azat who he served.

“I told them, ‘I serve God,’ and then they tortured me more, asking which God do I serve. To this, I responded, ‘The Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’ Well, at this they laughed and beat me so badly that they thought that I was dead.”

I have personally ministered with Polish pastors whose bodies were marked with scars from the beating they had received from Soviet agents during Russia's occupation of Poland.

When you have been close enough to those realities, you understand the true meaning of Jesus' Words..."Take up your cross and follow me."

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.