Kelly Johnson removed the site for Onward Christian Counseling Services after HuffPost reported on the documents on Friday. The site linked to an operating agreement from 2017, which stated that according to the company’s bylaws, the firm, which offers pastoral counselling, is based on the notion that sex is offensive to God unless it’s between a man and a woman who are married to each other.
“We believe and the Bible teaches that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God,” the eight-page document stated.
The document also said that the firm worked to protect life “from conception through natural death”, mentioning “pre-born babies”.
The site was taken down by Saturday afternoon, the outlet notes.
Mr Johnson has worked alongside his wife in both politics and business for quite some time, according to HuffPost.
They went on TV together in the 1990s to endorse the marriage covenant law put in place in Louisiana at the time, aiming to lower divorce rates.
Together they have also recorded 69 episodes of their podcast Truth Be Told, in which they discuss social issues and politics from the point of view of conservative Christians.
While Mr Johnson’s signature appears on the last page of the eight-page document, it’s unclear how much of a role the former constitutional lawyer played in writing the company’s bylaws. On 1 July 2017, he was the notary for the document, but notaries do not have to read the documents they sign.
HuffPost notes that the wording in the document is very similar to the model bylaws for churches document created by the nonprofit Freedom Guard, which was founded by Mr Johnson and works on “contending for the Christian faith through strategic litigation”.
Mr Johnson was the group’s president and chief counsel when he defended a creationist group in 2015 when they were attempting to get tax incentives to build an amusement park based around Noah’s Ark.
Also in 2015, Mr Johnson offered pro bono legal services to any public official claiming that it would “compromise their faith” to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The site for Freedom Guard is now also inactive, instead sending users to a site about gambling legislation and regulation.
The Independent has reached out to the office of Mr Johnson for comment.
An anti-abortion evangelical Christian and a lawyer who has backed creationist projects, Mr Johnson’s record on gay rights is one of relentless opposition. He has pointed to his faith as the source of his beliefs.
His activism and anti-LGBT+ work has included restricting gay marriage and access to healthcare services, as well as anti-gay activism at colleges.
More than a decade and a half ago, he was a lawyer and spokesperson for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which advocates for Christians. During that time, he described gay people as “sinful” and “destructive” and argued that supporting gay rights could lead to supporting paedophilia, a longtime anti-gay trope. In opinion pieces, he argued that gay sex should be criminalised, ABC News notes.
In 2003, Mr Johnson wrote in a column in The Shreveport Times: “There is clearly no ‘right to sodomy’ in the Constitution, and the right of ‘privacy of the home’ has never placed all activity with the home outside the bounds of the criminal law.”
During Day of Silence protests across the US in 2005 organised to push back against anti-gay biases in education, Mr Johnson and the ADF launched a counterprotest that they called “Day of Truth”.
Mr Johnson claimed at the time that they were “sharing the truth out of love and compassion”. He said that the “truth” came from a strict view of Bible teachings, meaning that “if someone’s trapped in a homosexual lifestyle, it’s dangerous,” according to ABC.
At the counterprotest, the ADF gave out t-shirts stating “The Truth Cannot be Silenced” as well as cards to students, sharing their view that they couldn’t support “detrimental personal and social behaviour” in reference to being LGBT+.
Mr Johnson said at the time that he hoped that the event would be “peaceful and respectful” but also said, “You can call it sinful or destructive, ultimately it’s both,” about being gay, the Associated Press wrote in April 2005.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network blasted the ADF and Mr Johnson for taking aim at gay students. Mr Johnson told the press: “No one is for bullying and harassment. But that’s cloaking their real message, that homosexuality is good for society.”
He also claimed that being gay was “morally wrong and physically dangerous”.
Before he joined Congress, Mr Johnson was a talk radio host, wrote columns, worked as a college professor, and was an instructor at constitutional law seminars. He also spent two years in the Louisiana state legislature.
Elected in 2016 at the same time as former President Donald Trump, Mr Johnson defended Mr Trump in both of his Senate impeachment trials. He also voted against legislation backed by both parties to codify same-sex marriage.
Mr Johnson played a major part in drafting the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act late last year, but the bill was never taken to the floor. It would have stopped the use of federal funds to “develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any sexually oriented program, event, or literature” for children under the age of 10. Those pushing the bill argued that it would keep inappropriate materials away from children while critics said that it was a push to prevent gay representation.
In another column for The Shreveport Times, published in February 2004, Mr Johnson wrote: “Pro-family advocates are often asked these days, ‘Why should you care? Why is same-sex marriage a threat?’ The answer is simple: because we tamper with God’s created order at our peril.”
“If activist judges can reject thousands of years of history and legitimize homosexual marriage, then trans-sexual and group ‘marriages’ of every sort must logically follow … Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic,” he added.