LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A candidate for Kentucky’s state House is making no apologies for shocking images found on his Facebook page.
Dan Johnson is a Republican challenging an incumbent Democrat in the 49th district, which includes much of Bullitt County.
He is also bishop of the Heart of Fire Church in southeast Louisville.
“I love America. I love people. I believe red, yellow, black and white, all are precious in God's sight. I'm not a racist,” Johnson told WDRB News.
His church sign reads, “Jesus and this church are not politically correct.”
As WDRB found, neither is Johnson’s Facebook page.
“Well, I'd like to know first off, what images that are being considered offensive,” Johnson said.
WDRB’s Lawrence Smith showed him printouts of images he's either posted or shared, such as a photo of a chimpanzee, labeled as a baby picture of President Barack Obama.
Another image had ape-like features photo-shopped onto pictures of the Obama family.
“It wasn't meant to be racist. I can tell you that. My history's good there. I can see how people would be offended in that. I wasn't trying to offend anybody, but, I think Facebook's entertaining,” Johnson said.
When pressed, Johnson would not acknowledge that the images crossed the line. He calls it satire.
“I looked this up. There has been no president that hasn't had that scrutiny. Not one. I think it would be racist not to do the same for President Obama as we've done for every other president.”
Johnson's Facebook page also contains numerous images of the confederate flag.
“That flag was for state rights. The reason it is under attack now is we're being attacked as state rights and constitutionalists. We are being attacked,” Johnson said.
There are also a number of anti-Islam posts, such as one calling for states to ban Islam.
“My thing for Islam, if you want to be in America, be an American. The thing about all religions in America, they don't oppose America or want to destroy America, or some way or another get us to take on another law, like Sharia law. I hate that,” he said.
Johnson says if the Facebook images cost him votes in November, so be it. He is not apologetic.
“I want to be myself. I would rather be myself than be elected as state representative of the 49th.
After WDRB contacted Johnson, he deleted many of the controversial posts.
He says he does not want voters to misunderstand him.
Mac Brown, Chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, released a statement Thursday:
“Dan Johnson’s comments and social media posts are outrageous and have no place in today’s political discourse. They represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society and do not in any way, shape or form represent the views of the Republican Party of Kentucky or the many fine candidates representing us on the ballot this November. I want to apologize to the members of Kentucky’s African-American community and assure them that this man’s opinions do not reflect those of this Party. We are proud to carry on our heritage as the party of Lincoln and we will continue to fight for the freedoms of each and every Kentuckian, regardless of race, to thrive and flourish here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”
On Friday, Rep. Sannie Overly, chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party ,responded to Johnson's comments:
Racism does not deserve a slap on the wrist or a second chance. The Kentucky Republican Party Chairman has called these comments outrageous and that they ‘represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society’, and I agree. The only decent option would be for this candidate to withdraw from seeking a role as a lawmaker and representative of the people of Kentucky.
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