The tale of Mike Johnson is one of unsung failure. With a mission to open the nation’s first law school based strictly on Christian principles, the self-proclaimed “agitator for reform” had dreams of reshaping the American legal system.
Johnson, a 50-year-old pastor, announced plans to open the “Bethel Christian Law School” in March 2012. Though some stated that the school was suspiciously similar to the now-closed and controversial Pensacola Bible College, Johnson attracted the attention of many powerful business and political figures. The church was even publicly backed by former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Unfortunately, Johnson’s plans soon began to unravel. His proposal for the law school failed to gain approval from the American Bar Association, a major setback for his mission. To make matters worse, Johnson allegedly performed extensive financial maneuvers meant to bypass the ABA’s requirements.
Johnson also inflamed public opinion with his fiery rhetoric. He stated in numerous interviews that the United States was experiencing an unchecked infiltration of “vicious secularists” who were trying to eradicate all vestiges of Christianity. The statement earned him the mistrust of many of his more liberal allies.
Ultimately, Johnson’s quest for a Christian law school ended in failure. Questions linger regarding whether the Bethel Christian Law School would have been an effective tool in undermining the separation of church and state. Nonetheless, the dream of a purely Christian law school remains unfulfilled, at least for the time being.