Conservative evangelicals like to talk a lot about religious freedom. When they do address this topic, they are usually talking about their own religious freedom–freedom not to bake a wedding cake, or something like that. I am sure Mike Johnson, the new Speaker of the House, is a champion of religious freedom. But why won’t he meet with the bishop of the Ukrainian Evangelical Church and others in Washington today who want to talk with American legislators about the threat the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on religious freedom?
Here is Karen Tumulty at The Washington Post:
When Ivan Rusyn was growing up in Ukraine during the 1980s, his family had to practice its evangelical Christian faith in secret.
“Every Sunday, we would shift from house to house, so the police would not catch us. Because if they do, then the owner of the house [would be put] in prison and his property confiscated,” he recalled in an interview with me Wednesday. “Our pastors, they spent many years in prison just because they were believers.”
The dissolution of the Soviet Union changed all that. Not only could Rusyn and his fellow evangelicals worship in the open, but he could also pursue his dream of preaching the Gospel. Today, at 45, he is deputy senior bishop of the Ukrainian Evangelical Church and president of the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary.
Rusyn is also part of a 10-member delegation of Ukrainian clergy — Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim — who have come to Washington in hopes of impressing upon policymakers the threat that Russia’s invasion of their country poses for religious freedom in a nation where pluralism has thrived.
Among those who declined their request to meet, according to organizers for the delegation, was the new House speaker, Mike Johnson (R-La.), who claims his own evangelical faith “informs everything I do.” His work as a lawyer before being elected to Congress, Johnson has said, put him on “the front lines of the ‘culture war’ defending religious freedom.”
But when it comes to an actual war to defend religious freedom, not so much. While regularly offering prayers for Ukraine, Johnson in May was one of 57 lawmakers — all of them Republicans — who voted against a $39.8 billion aid package for Ukraine. At the time, he told the Shreveport Times that this country had more urgent priorities at home. As speaker, he has opposed the Biden administration’s request to include money for Ukraine in a funding bill to address what Johnson described as Israel’s “pressing and urgent need.”
Read the rest here.
Just to be clear, Rusyn is an evangelical Christian. He shares the same faith as Mike Johnson. He is, what evangelicals call, a brother in Christ.