Dems upset Mike Johnson selected Pastor Jack Hibbs to serve as guest chaplain

Pastor Jack Hibbs Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California delivers a speech at the Pray Vote Stand Summit in Washington D.C. on Sept. 15, 2023, at the Omini Shoreham Hotel.
Pastor Jack Hibbs Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California delivers a speech at the Pray Vote Stand Summit in Washington D.C. on Sept. 15, 2023, at the Omini Shoreham Hotel. | The Christian Post/Nicole Alcindor

A group of Democratic lawmakers have expressed outrage that a prominent megachurch pastor they claim is a "Christian nationalist" was allowed to serve as a guest chaplain in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and House Chaplain Rev. Margaret Grun Kibben published Thursday, 26 House Democrats outlined their concerns about the speaker's decision to sponsor Pastor Jack Hibbs as a guest chaplain for the chamber.

Hibbs, who serves as the pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California, delivered an opening prayer in the House on Jan. 30.

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Led by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., the signatories contend that "Hibbs is a radical Christian nationalist who helped fuel the January 6th insurrection and has a long record of spewing hateful vitriol towards non-Christians, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community."

The Democrats insisted that "he should never have been granted the right to deliver the House's opening prayer on January 30, 2024."

The Christian Post reached out to Calvary Chapel Chino Hills seeking comment from Hibbs on the letter. A response was not received by press time.

The other signatories to the letter were Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; Mark Pocan, D-Wis.; Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; Sean Casten, D-Ill.; Susan Wild, D-Pa.; Hank Johnson, D-Ga.; Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Mark Takano, D-Calif.; Robert Garcia, D-Calif.; Dan Goldman, D-N.Y.; Becca Balint, D-Vt.; Delia Ramirez, D-Ill.; Katie Porter, D-Calif.; Kevin Mullin, D-Calif.; John Garamendi, D-Calif.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Raul Ruiz, D-Calif.; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Julia Brownley, D-Calif.; Summer Lee, D-Pa.; and Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, a nonvoting delegate from the District of Columbia, also signed the letter. 

"In the days leading up to the [Jan. 6, 2021] attack on the [U.S.] Capitol, Hibbs echoed Donald Trump's election fraud lies and inflamed his followers by preaching that January 6th would go down in history alongside the War of Independence and the War of 1812," they wrote.

"By preaching that God had anointed the Trump administration and could still intercede to save Trump's presidency on January 6th, Hibbs advanced a religious permission structure that led to violence by those who believed any means were justified to carry out what they viewed as God's plan."

The lawmakers noted that Hibbs attended the "Stop the Steal" rally at the Ellipse in Washington that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters later that day.

In an appearance on Family Research Council President Tony Perkins' "Washington Watch" program on Jan. 7, 2021, Hibbs declared: "This is what you get when you eject God from the courts and from the schools" and teach children they are "evolutionary byproducts."

The lawmakers lamented his comments during the opening prayer as guest chaplain. They took issue with Hibbs' use of the terms "holy fear," "repentance" and "national sins," describing them as "allusions to the militant and fanatical agenda he preaches about the LGBTQ+ community, Jews, Muslims, and anyone who conflicts with his 'biblical worldview.'"

They cited his referral to trans-identified people as a "sexually perverted cult" who are "in violation of the word and will of God" as well as part of an "anti-God, anti-Christ plan of none other than Satan himself" as examples of what they called "hateful and divisive" views.

"He claims that same-sex marriage has 'crucified God's word' and that homosexuality and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people is evidence that humanity is living in the 'last days.' He champions discredited 'conversion therapy' and has rallied opposition to a California law to reduce LGBTQ+ bullying in schools," they added. 

The lawmakers condemned Hibbs' characterization of Islam as a "death cult" and his assertion that Judaism "cannot save you."

"Hibbs also embraces the false and exclusionary Christian nationalist narrative that the United States was established as a 'Christian nation,' and he has repeatedly flouted separation of church and state by working to institutionalize Christian prayer and bible readings at local school board meetings, among other things," the letter states. 

The lawmakers maintain that Hibbs' presence in the House on Jan. 30 ran afoul of established guidelines for guest chaplains.

"Hibbs is not from the district of Speaker Johnson (i.e. the sponsoring member), Speaker Johnson did not deliver a welcoming speech, the prayer was not delivered on the last legislative day of the week, and Hibbs was Speaker Johnson's second sponsored Guest Chaplain in the span of just a couple months, even though Members are limited to one request per Congress."

The letter asserted that Hibbs does not meet the requirements that guest chaplains deliver a prayer that is "mindful of diversity," "transcends petty differences" and "expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society." 

The lawmakers concluded that Johnson "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 overriding antipathy toward church-state separation."

The lawmakers requested "a complete explanation of the process by which Pastor Hibbs was recommended, vetted, and approved, including the reason(s) why the Chaplain waived basic requirements of the Guest Chaplain program for Hibbs, of all people" as well as a vow that the House leadership will "prevent someone with a hateful and divisive record from delivering the opening prayer and to ensure that people of all faiths and values are equitably represented as Guest Chaplains."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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