Huffman, Raskin, Pocan Decry Speaker Johnson’s Bigoted, Christian Nationalist Guest Chaplain

In their letter, 26 lawmakers demand an explanation and assurances

February 15, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressional Freethought Caucus Co-Chairs Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02) led 23 other members in a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson and House Chaplain Reverend Dr. Margaret Grun Kibben denouncing Speaker Johnson’s sponsorship of Pastor Jack Hibbs as the Guest Chaplain.

In the letter, the members outlined concerns with Hibbs’ egregious record, including his notoriety as a Christian Nationalist, involvement in the January 6th insurrection, and long history of spewing hateful vitriol toward Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ+ individuals, and anyone inconsistent with his “biblical worldview.” They also noted that Speaker Johnson’s invitation to Pastor Hibbs failed to meet the basic requirements of the Guest Chaplain program.

“These facts suggest a breathtaking lack of consideration for the religious diversity of our Congress and pluralistic nation. It appears that Speaker Johnson – with the tacit approval of the House Chaplain – decided to flout the Chaplaincy guidelines and use the platform of the Guest Chaplain to lend the imprimatur of Congress to an ill-qualified hate preacher who shares the Speaker’s Christian Nationalist agenda and his antipathy toward church-state separation,” the members said in their letter.  

In light of their concerns, the members requested information about how Pastor Hibbs was vetted, recommended, and approved and an explanation for why the basic requirements of the Guest Chaplain program were waived for this individual. The members also ask for a description of the steps that will be taken in the future to prevent someone with such a divisive and hateful record from delivering the opening prayer.

Additionally, the letter noted that the Chaplaincy has continued to prevent Members from sponsoring certain fully qualified Guest Chaplains, including Nontheistic Chaplain Dan Barker from the district of Representative Pocan. The letter requested an explanation for this disparate treatment and asks to know what will be done to ensure that people of all faiths and values are treated equitably and fairly represented.

In addition to Representatives Huffman, Raskin, and Pocan, the letter was cosigned by Reps. Becca Balint (VT-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Sean Casten (IL-06), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), John Garamendi (CA-08), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Jerry Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Katie Porter (CA-47), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Raul Ruiz (CA-25), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-39), Susan Wild (PA-07).

The letter was endorsed by the Interfaith Alliance, Secular Coalition for America, American Humanist Association, Center for Freethought Equality, Anti-Defamation League, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Society for Humanistic Judaism, American Atheists, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Association of Secular Elected Officials, Center for Inquiry, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.