Banning Abortion Was ‘Front and Center’ at Christian Nationalist Conference Addressed by Speaker Mike ‘Moses’ Johnson

Frank Pavone, an anti-abortion hardliner who was kicked out of the priesthood by Pope Francis this year, says that banning abortion was “front and center throughout the day” during the recent meeting of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, the gathering at which Speaker of the House Mike Johnson declared that God had prepared him to be a “Moses” leading America in this “Red Sea Moment.” Pavone, who reported on the conference in an article posted at Gateway Pundit and, praised Johnson and other speakers at the event’s gala for highlighting efforts to ban abortion.

As voters across the country reject MAGA Republicans’ abortion bans, and GOP strategists fear the issue will hurt their electoral prospects in 2024, Johnson has publicly downplayed the priority of a national abortion ban for congressional Republicans. But, as Pavone’s report makes clear, abolishing abortion is still a priority for the religious-right movement from which Johnson emerged.

Johnson’s own track record is long and brutally anti-choice. As an anti-abortion attorney before his election to Congress, Johnson “helped draft and defend successive Louisiana laws aimed at tightly regulating abortion providers, helping make abortion increasingly inaccessible in the state even as the procedure remained technically legal,” the New York Times reported.

As an attorney at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the religious-right legal group that pushed the Trumpified Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, he represented anti-abortion extremists. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Johnson gleefully celebrated Louisiana’s law, tweeting, “Perform an abortion and get imprisoned at hard labor for 1-10 yrs & fined $10K-$100K.”

As a member of Congress, Johnson has sponsored multiple federal abortion ban bills, including one that would declare fertilized eggs to be constitutionally protected persons from the moment of conception. Anti-abortion strategist Robert George has argued in a Supreme Court brief that such an interpretation of the Constitution would require states to treat abortion as homicide.

Johnson has cited religious-right leaders and dominionist activists as mentors and major influences. At the NACL gala, Johnson told lawmakers, “What we’re engaged in right now is a battle between worldviews.”

Another scheduled conference speaker was Janet Porter, author of abortion-banning “heartbeat” legislation. In the lead-in to Ohio’s recent vote on a pro-choice constitutional amendment, she and her allies promoted false claims that it would abolish all limitations on abortion and tried to mobilize an anti-trans panic against the amendment. But after voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment, Porter began arguing that it had no authority over the state’s anti-abortion laws. She urged state lawmakers to ignore voters’ wishes and strip state courts of the power to enforce the constitutional amendment. Porter’s recent moves are evidence of what The Nation’s Amy Littlefield described this month as “a variety of anti-democratic schemes to prevent the expansion of abortion access.”

Meanwhile, Johnson ally and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fought successfully in recent days to get the state Supreme Court to overrule a lower court decision allowing a woman carrying a fetus with a fatal diagnosis to get an abortion, even though being forced to carry the doomed pregnancy threatens her health and future fertility. Her lawyer has said she has left the state to get the healthcare she needs.

While religious-right groups would generally be expected to howl in protest at any suggestion that government officials meddle in internal church affairs, Pavone reported that the executive committee of the NACL unanimously passed a resolution calling for the reversal of his dismissal from the priesthood.

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