Kelly Johnson, the wife of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, had a website advertising her Christian counseling services with founding documents that equated homosexuality with bestiality and incest.
The website for Onward Christian Counseling Services, which has been taken down since HuffPost reported on its existence last Friday, featured a link to its 2017 operating agreement laying out the company’s corporate bylaws.
The agreement stated that the business is grounded in the belief that sex outside of a man-woman marriage is sinful and offensive to God.
“We believe and the Bible teaches that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with ones biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God,” the document said.
The document also refers to “pre-born babies,” emphasizing Onward Christian Counseling Services’ commitment to protecting all human life, “from conception through natural death.”
Kelly Johnson, who served as the company’s CEO, used the website to promote her counseling business, where she provides individual, family, and marital counseling.
The website was live as late as Friday, but had been pulled down by Saturday afternoon, according to metadata from the Wayback Machine, a service that archives various Internet websites.
It remains unclear what level of involvement Speaker Johnson, a lawyer by trade, may have had in drafting the bylaws for his wife’s company.
His signature, as a notary, appears on the last page of her business document, a copy of which was downloaded and saved by HuffPost. However, notaries are not required to read the documents they notarize.
But as HuffPost noted, the language used in the founding document for Onward Christian Counseling Services is nearly identical to that laid out in a “model bylaws for churches” document created by Freedom Guard, a nonprofit founded by the Speaker that attacked the Obama administration over its policies.
Freedom Guard eventually sought to pursue litigation on behalf of Christians who claimed their sincerely held religious beliefs were being violated by various Obama-era laws and policies.
That website, too, has since been removed, but exists in the Wayback Machine via archives and screenshots.
In 2015, Johnson, as Freedom Guard’s president and chief counsel, defended a creationist group that was trying to get tax incentives to build a Noah’s Ark-themed amusement park.
That same year, Johnson offered free legal services to any public officials who argued that their religious beliefs prevented them from presiding over or recognizing same-sex marriages that were legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Kelly and Mike Johnson have largely worn their conservative religious beliefs on their sleeve, getting involved in many right-wing social causes in their professional and personal lives.
The couple initially rose to fame in the 1990s as defenders of Louisiana’s marriage covenant law, which made it harder to obtain a divorce.
Under the law, couples must submit to pre-marital counseling. They may only obtain a divorce if they can prove that one of the partners was unfaithful, using drugs, abusive, had committed a felony, or if the couple had separated and lived apart for a certain number of years.
The law was intended to avoid “no-fault divorce,” which conservatives have blamed for the rise in broken marriages and the deterioration of the family unit.
The Johnsons have also co-hosted a podcast, Truth Be Told, where they discuss politics and social issues from a conservative Christian perspective.
Mike Johnson also served as a spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, one of the chief conservative legal firms that has challenged various pro-LGBTQ ordinances or laws in court. Before and during his time at ADF, Johnson penned several guest columns for a local newspaper railing against attempts to expand or recognize the rights of LGBTQ individuals as a group.
During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last Thursday, Johnson said he is a “rule of law guy” when it comes to same-sex marriage — even though he personally objects to same-sex nuptials, believing them to be sinful, and questions LGBTQ people’s “lifestyle choices.”
“I made a career defending the rule of law. I respect the rule of law,” Johnson said. “When the Supreme Court issued the Obergefell opinion, that became the law of the land.”
He also sought to sidestep criticism of comment he penned in opposition to same-sex marriage at the state level, telling Hannity that such comments were made in his professional capacity.
“Some of these comments were 15 years ago,” he said. “I don’t even remember some of them.”
Even if Johnson were to attempt to take action, the Respect for Marriage Act, signed into law by President Biden last year, would significantly undermine any of those efforts.
Under the national law — which would take effect if the Supreme Court ever reversed its decision in the Obergefell case — all same-sex marriages performed in states without explicit bans must be recognized by state and federal governments, even if individual states have bans on the practice on the books.
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