Pastor Michael Johnson

Pastor Mike Johnson, a white-man in his mid-sixties wearing glasses, a checked shirt, and a baseball cap, stands in front of the CORR banner. The CORR banner has an eagle emblem reading "We The People."
Pastor Mike Johnson preaching at a CORR meeting

Pastor Michael Johnson of Baptist Temple Ministries in Fall River, MA, is a member of Citizens Organized to Restore Rights, a Christofascist/Christian nationalist organization based in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He is also associated with the God Given Freedom Fighters, a group which describes itself as “concerned Christians standing against government tyranny, unlawful mandates, censorship, and evil in high places” (God Given Freedom Fighters, 2021). Anti-vax group Make America Free Again (MAFA) has also hosted regular meetings at his church (CORR, March 21, 2022). At a CORR meeting in 2022 he claimed that he has been active in conservative Christian politics since the mid-1980s, formerly in Virginia Beach and New York City (CORR, April 4, 2022).

Anti-LGBTQ Advocacy

In June 2019, Pastor Mike participated in a protest against a Drag Queen Story Hour at the Fall River Public Library, calling the LGBTQ-affirming, kid-friendly event “immoral” and “dangerous” (Hilario, 2019; CBS Boston, 2019).

In February 2023, Pastor Mike, along with Pastor Manny Silva of Evangelical Christian Fellowship, helped to organize an openly transphobic “Pastor Story Hour” at the Fall River Public Library. The event was targeted at children ages 3-11. The flier advertising the event criticized “society…trying to redefine such basic things as what is a male or female…trying it’s [sic] best to indoctrinate our youngest and most innocent with ungodly ideas…” (It’s Official! Pastor Story Hour, 2023).

The flier advertised the book to be read at the event, Jesus and My Gender, as a “Christian children’s book on God’s design for our bodies and our gender.” The promotional website for the book frames trans and gender non-conforming people as “perverting and distorting God’s design.” The book itself says that changing this design is “wrong and inconsistent” and says “genders can’t be mixed.” It also promotes outdated, patriarchal gender roles, calling girls “immaculate and pure,” and boys “fast and excellent” (Relearn Church, 2023).

Christofascism and Christian Nationalism

As reported by Vice News, “Christian nationalists believe that their country’s policies and laws should reflect evangelical Christian values, and culture war issues like LGBTQ rights, ‘critical race theory,’ or immigration, are regarded as signs of moral decay that imperil the nation’s future. Christo-fascists take that one step further, and believe that they’re fighting primordial battles between West and East, good and evil, right and left, Christians and infidels. These two labels, however, sometimes overlap” (Owen, 2022).

Pastor Mike is a key player in shaping CORR’s Christofascist/Christian nationalist identity. Many CORR meetings start with the US national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, and then a short sermon and prayer by Pastor Mike. CORR’s leader, David Steinhof, has referred to Pastor Mike as “our pastor” (CORR, March 1, 2022).

Pastor Mike’s remarks often use Christofascist framings of good and evil to characterize the current US political landscape, and he invokes the idea that we are in the “end times.” For example:

“The Lord is our banner… You sometimes make sure that Your people are involved in the process that will ignite their God to go against evil quicker. Sometimes He allows evil to develop longer than it needs to be… but He waits on His people to decide if they’re going to call out to God more… And you’re rewarding our efforts – we can see a lot of changes happening in America… We serve you in difficult times. The Bible describes clearly that perilous times will come, and describes it in things we’re now seeing.” (CORR, March 21, 2022)

“Do you know what Satan is doing?… Distracting, dividing, destroying, deception… Is that easily seeable in our society? Ok, so who are we fighting against? People or Satan? We don’t say to them, ‘You’re Satanists.’ Some of them are, but most of them aren’t. They’re just representing him.” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

“People are not going to church, but they’re reading the Bible and they’re wondering about what’s going on. Are these the last days? Are these the end times? What’s this new evil form that we’re seeing in this world?… We’re fighting evil right now, are we not? And it’s not just generic evil. It’s a certain kind of evil… Its main mission is against righteousness, against God and His people, and against morality and justice… Why are they coming after Christianity like never before?… By the way, that’s why the good guys are having a hard time reacting to all the evil, because we’re thinking, there can’t be this [many] bad guys out there. And we’re supposed to be the good guys…. And we are…” (CORR, May 16, 2022)

While not always direct, Pastor Mike uses references and dogwhistles to make it clear to his audience who he is referring to as “evil,” as the “enemy” of CORR members, as the “other” in us vs them. He also spreads disinformation and conspiracy theories.

“Satan’s side – begins with the letter “B” – is never going to allow it. Because the fall of Ukraine would be their goal. It covers up everything in recent years if Ukraine and the good guys are exterminated and all records are destroyed…” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

  • Here it is clear that Pastor Mike is referring to the liberal Biden administration as “Satan’s side.”

“There’s no way, Lord, that You brought us in this time, in the way that things we’re seeing at the level of darkness and evil and witnessing in parts of America, to believe You’re going to abandon us. Because we’re calling out to You. We’re waking up. They may be woke, but they’re zombies. We’re waking up and we’re alive in you. Big difference.” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

  • Recent articles in Time, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times point out that conservatives have started using “woke” as a dogwhistle for Black people, Black-led protest movements, and in general for people who care about racial and social justice issues (Perry & McDaniel, 2023; Young, 2022; Gurewitz, 2023).

“I actually think it’s more like 25% controlling America right now. I think there’s probably way under 100 people controlling America… Who’s running the White House right now? We have no idea. But we know it’s some dark creature, if you will, behind the scenes. Some guru. No one believes Biden’s running the country… So who is? S-A-T-A-N right now.” (CORR, May 16, 2022)

  • This suggestion that a secret cabal is puppeteering the government invokes the antisemitic “New World Order” conspiracy theory (Flores, 2022).

“Some of this stuff – ‘the climate’s gonna destroy our country’… there are so many fables… I turn the TV on and every time I turn around I’m hearing a fable… I mean wild, crazy, stupid… [Are] there more than ten people in America that’ll believe it? You find out, well, there’s about 40 million, thanks to fake news.” (CORR, May 16, 2022)

  • Here he spreads climate denial and parrots Trump’s dismissal of unfavorable media as “fake news.”

Pastor Mike frames CORR’s political work as a holy war. He uses militaristic terms and images of Christian martyrdom, talking about how “patriot soldiers” and Christians must come together to defend their way of life and their idea of how the nation should look:

“When the church gets together with the patriots – we’ll call ourselves the two different groups: the patriots and the Christians, God’s church. When they merge, historically, it is success – easily provable through all of American history especially. I’m excited that Dr. Dave [Steinhof] is really zealous about that too… It is always the same ingredients where Satan begins to take charge temporarily of a country, or of a town or an area – or the world, is his goal. But once God’s people unite with those soldier kind of people…the church and the patriot soldiers, when they merge, that’s what they don’t want to see on the other side… And you have those who have fought for God and seen Him win so many times that they have hearts of courage and strength…” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

“God plus the Twelve Apostles changed the Roman Empire in 180 years. Their bodies lined the streets of the Roman Empire being burnt to death – they were killing Christians like flies. And [the Christians] won… By the way, it’s okay to [wage] war. David says ‘Blessed be the Lord my God that teaches my hand to war.’ It’s okay to fight for the right cause. Not to be aggressive, but if they come at you, you have to play good defense, right?” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

“Our favorite saying in a lot of our churches like mine is ‘Little is much when God is in it.’ We represent a few hundred, we wish we had thousands and thousands, but we will. We know some that…are a little scared about making public appearances in places like this. But Lord, you’ll bring them around when the time is right. In the meantime, they’re ready. They’re in the ‘reserve army,’ so to speak. And they’ll be coming. Because You’re forming this. It’s God versus Satan. We know who wins. It is good versus evil. We know what will win. And it is light versus darkness. We’re looking forward to seeing the conclusion of this… And tonight is part of that chess game that’s developing for that endgame victory that only you will give us in due time. In Christ’s name we pray.” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

“When God’s people, good people, patriotic people, scared people, freedom-loving people, turn to God in greater earnest, God [has] moved in to save and deliver America for all of its existence. If we think that we can simply win this war – and it’s becoming more scary to even say it. We’ve been comfortable with the word “cultural” war but another kind of war is clearly brewing. It’s winner-take-all. And it scares us. It should. But will it scare us into the throne room of God?” (CORR, April 18, 2022)

Pastor Mike and David Steinhof make it clear that they view the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation where conservative Christian values should be imposed on all. Advancing this vision is key to CORR’s mission:

Steinhof: “Let’s face it, this group would be nothing without God on our side… God knows this great experiment the United States of America was founded on Christian-Judeo principles. It’s imperative that we never forget that, that we know that’s at the heart of everything we do.” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

Pastor Mike: “That’s what the [American] Revolution was all about, it was led by the parsons, literally.” (CORR, April 4, 2022)

Pastor Mike: “You recognize who’s following Satan by their actions. They love unrighteousness. They hate good righteous people who stand for peace and unity… They are so far ahead of us right now in America, the ones overtaking our government. Most of them – I don’t know how you can call them anything else – they’re traitors. They’re traitors. (CORR, April 18, 2022)

Pastor Mike: “Our early church fathers would often say that the golden triangle of freedom is faith, virtue, and liberty. Faith – truth; virtue – morals; liberty – which is freedom. The golden triangle that America was built upon are those three components. That there is something to be counted on, which is truth, and that there are morals, there are absolute morals, there are definable morals, or why even use the word?” (CORR, May 16, 2022)

As noted on the page about CORR, the organization’s leader, David Steinhof, has publicly stated his willingness to resort to violence, saying, “We as Americans are obligated to defend our constitution, peacefully if we can, forcefully if we must.” The Christofascist sermons that Pastor Mike delivers at CORR meetings provide an important insight into the framework that CORR members use to justify their aggressiveness towards people and organizations that don’t adhere to their ideal of a white, conservative, hetero-patriarchal, Christian America.


CBS Boston. (2019, June 1). Drag Queen Storytime Held At Fall River Library Despite Protests. CBS Boston.

CORR – Citizens Organized to Restore Rights. (2022, March 1). CORR North Mtg 3-1-22 Movie. [Video].

CORR – Citizens Organized to Restore Rights. (2022, March 21). Mtg 3-21-22 Move. [Video].

CORR – Citizens Organized to Restore Rights. (2022, April 4). Mtg 4-4-22 Movie. [Video].

CORR – Citizens Organized to Restore Rights. (2022, May 16). CORR Mtg 5-16-22 Movie. [Video].

Flores, M. (2022, May 30). The New World Order: The Historical Origins of a Dangerous Modern Conspiracy Theory. Middlebury Institute of International Studies: Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism.

God Given Freedom Fighters. Facebook. (2021, November 12).

Gurewitz, S. (2023, February 5). Letter: Republicans use ‘woke’ as part of dog whistle politics. Financial Times.

Hilario, M. (2019, June 1). Drag draws crowd to Fall River Public Library. 10 WJAR.

It’s Official! Pastor Story Hour. (2023). Fall River, MA. [Flier]

Owen, T. (2022, July 5). Christian Fascist Propaganda Is All Over TikTok. Vice News.

Perry, S. L., & McDaniel, E. L. (2023, January 26). Why “Woke” Is A Convenient Republican Dog Whistle. Time.

Relearn Church. (n.d.). Jesus and My Gender Children’s Book.

Young, D. (2022, September 26). Woke is now a dog whistle for Black. What’s next? Washington Post.