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Tue Apr 2, 2024, 09:20 PM Apr 2

House Speaker Johnson was Dean of a law school named after a Baptist leader and alleged male sexual predator


Current Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is an Evangelical Christian from Louisiana, a member of one of Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, Lousiana. In August of 2010, he was named the founding dean of the Pressler School of Law at Louisiana College, a school owned by Louisiana Southern Baptists. The school never opened, and Johnson resigned in 2012. The college's president, Joe Aguillard, blamed the school's failure on Johnson's resignation.

But there's a little bit of a back story here. The Pressler School of Law is named for Paul Pressler, a now-retired Texas appeals court judge, known as one of the "architects" of the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, a ten-year denominational political effort to "restore" the denomination to its "conservative roots" by political maneuvering to elect a series of presidents with appointive powers to ensure that only theological conservatives who believed in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible would be appointed as trustees to the denomination's entities and seminaries. This would ensure that the professors who were hired, and the missionaries who were appointed, all held the doctrinal belief in biblical inerrancy and infallibility.

I'm not aware of a direct connection between Johnson and Pressler, though Johnson served as a trustee of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at the same time Pressler was active in denominational bureaucracy. Southern Baptist leaders are finally coming to accept evidence from at least two lawsuits pointing to Pressler having been involved in incidents of sexual abuse of young men, including from the youth group of the church that he had once led, and associates from the law firm in which he was a partner with an attorney named Jared Woodfill.

Johnson has kept silence on his tenure at the Baptist law school, and hasn't commented on the evidence of sexual abuse coming from the settled lawsuits against Pressler. That seems strange, for a high profile politician like Johnson, whose conservative views are far right hard line, especially against LGBTQ persons. I would think he'd want to clear his record of any possible association with the Pressler name, especially considering the nature of the allegations, the evidence which includes the leadership of Pressler's church, First Baptist of Houston, acknowledging his inappropriate behavior and taking disciplinary action which eventually caused him to join a different church.
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