Statement about Gregory R. Johnson

**Statement about Gregory R. Johnson**
from the Center for Swedenborgian Studies (CSS) Faculty
released on November 4th, 2019

Over this past weekend Norwegian police arrested in Oslo a notorious right-wing ideologue named Greg Johnson, editor-in-chief of the white nationalist website Counter-Currents. This Greg Johnson is, regrettably, the same Gregory R. Johnson who had once been employed by the Center for Swedenborgian Studies (then the Swedenborgian House of Studies) as a Visiting Professor at Pacific School of Religion between 2002-2005. At no time during Greg’s three-year tenure with us in Berkeley did we become aware of his politically extremist and racist views. In 2005, when his teaching contract was open for renewal, the Pacific School of Religion opted not to continue employing Mr. Johnson and he subsequently left Berkeley, and seemed to disappear, more or less, from public view.

Nearly three years ago from today, it came to our attention that Greg had resurfaced as a participant in far-right white nationalist and neo-Nazi circles. We performed our institutional due diligence by sharing information regarding Greg’s earlier employment under our auspices to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks and monitors such far-right thinkers. We also notified scholarly publishing houses where Greg had published his research on Immanuel Kant and Emanuel Swedenborg (under his scholarly byline as Gregory R. Johnson). Some of those publishers have consequently taken work associated with Greg’s name completely out of circulation.

On May 26, 2017, the board of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies unanimously passed an internal resolution to express in no uncertain terms our complete condemnation of Greg Johnson’s views on race, religion, and/or culture. After recounting the history of his employment with us, we concluded that resolution with an affirmative statement. We wish to share that part of the resolution with the broader public now, in keeping with our deepest respect and our great love for the rich interreligious pluralism that lies at the heart of our institutional home, the Graduate Theological Union:

"We wish to affirm in this statement that at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies (formerly Swedenborgian House of Studies) we denounce White Nationalism, anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination of any ilk. We not only accept diversity but see it as absolutely necessary—this includes religious diversity and the rights and dignity of all people. Our theological institution played pioneering roles in the ordination of women during the 1970s and of openly gay ordinands in the 1990s, a history of which we are proud."

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. James Lawrence, DMin, MDiv
Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Historical Studies / Dean of the Center for Swed. Studies

Dr. Rebecca K. Esterson, MTS
Assistant Professor in Sacred Texts and Traditions / Dorothea Harvey Professor in Swed. Studies

Dr. Devin Zuber, MA, MPhil
Associate Professor for American Studies, Religion, and Literature

Blog Post written by:
James Lawrence
Dean of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies