By Monday, “I was expecting a cancellation,” Johnson recalled to CNA in an interview on Tuesday. Later on Monday evening, her speech was postponed indefinitely by Cardinals for Life, and the Daily Caller reported that the group’s president had resigned.
In a letter to Garvey, senior Anna Stephens said that she was “pressured, against my conscience, by the University Chaplain in his capacity as adviser to Cardinals for Life” into postponing Johnson’s speech.
Reached by CNA on Wednesday, Fr. DeAngelo declined to comment.
In a Feb. 9 statement on the Cardinals for Life Instagram page, the group’s executive board explained why it voted to postpone the event.
Johnson was initially asked to share her conversion story, and the group stood by its original invite while also acknowledging Johnson’s “numerous” statements that “called into question our decision to invite her.”
Amid the uproar over her appearance, “[a]s pro-life ministers, we feared that Abby’s message against abortion would fall on deaf ears,” the board members explained the postponement. They emphasized the importance of “dialogue and trust” amid division.
Johnson told CNA that “I sort of expect this when I speak on a college campus, honestly.”
“I tend to bring controversy, whether I’m at a secular school or a Christian school or a Catholic school,” she said.
After the postponement, the college’s student Republican group promptly stepped in and asked Johnson to address them on Tuesday evening. She accepted, and the group named the event “Fight for Life.”
The group acknowledged on its Instagram page that “this is a decision that is bound to upset many students, and it’s not one that we came to lightly.”
“Our members have placed their trust and faith in us to advance their beliefs, and even when unpopular, we will continue to do so,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the college’s Student Government Association Diversity and Inclusion Initiative organized another event at the same time as Johnson’s speech to Republicans, titled “Recenter, Refocus, Remind: A Conversation on the Consistent Ethic of Life.”
Johnson encouraged opposing students to listen to her Tuesday talk and ask her questions during the question-and-answer portion of the event.
Johnson has drawn controversy numerous times for her statements on racial issues, politics, and vaccines in the last two years.
In Sept., 2019, Johnson was criticized for calling a Black Pentecostal bishop “Tyrone,” which is a racial slang term, in a Twitter argument. In the same argument, Swan had referred to Johnson as the derogatory slang for white women, “Becky.” Johnson later said on Twitter “I apologize if my words in response to being called derogatory slurs came across as racially malicious.”
In a June, 2020 Facebook Live monologue on the protests surrounding George Floyd’s death, Johnson appeared to say it would be acceptable for police to racially-profile her biracial son.
Johnson also spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention where she called President Trump “the most pro-life president we’ve ever had.” She also attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally outside the White House that protested alleged election fraud. Johnson admitted to walking to the U.S. Capitol afterward to deliver a pre-planned speech—as the building was being stormed by rioters. Johnson said was not aware of the breach of the building until she arrived on the Capitol grounds.
Johnson told CNA that she walked around the building looking for her speech audience, but left the premises after she heard a woman was shot inside in the Capitol, and after she saw what appeared to be tear gas deployed. “I was in no way, shape, or form involved” in the invasion of the Capitol building, she told CNA.
Johnson has also said she rejects the teaching of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for their statements on COVID-19 vaccines.
She has suggested that it is immoral to utilize vaccines if cell lines from aborted fetuses have been used in the testing process - a common practice for most modern medications - even if the cell lines are not in the production of the vaccines itself.
Both the USCCB and the Vatican have taught that it is licit for Catholics to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with a remote connection to cell lines of an aborted baby, if no alternative ethical vaccine is available.
“And then they talk out of both sides of their mouth,” she said of the USCCB, accusing them of hypocrisy in condemning abortion but approving of the use of such vaccines connected to abortions. Johnson also told CNA that the CDF document was “not infallible doctrine.”
“I’m certainly allowed to say that I personally believe that receiving these vaccines, tainted, that were born off the backs of aborted children, is wrong,” she said, claiming that she could also believe the CDF note contained “error.”
When asked by CNA if she stood by her previous statements on vaccines and in response to the George Floyd protests, Johnson said that she did.