A political appointee in the Department of Homeland Security abruptly resigned after the disclosure Thursday he previously made derogatory remarks about black people and Muslims on conservative talk radio.
Rev. Jamie Johnson, who was appointed the head of the DHS’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships in April, appeared on the program in 2008. The comments resurfaced Thursday after CNN published a report about them with audio snippets.
Johnson’s incendiary comments about black people came on the show “The Right Balance,” on Accent Radio Network, CNN reported. An unidentified speaker on the show said “a lot of blacks are anti-Semitic” and asked Johnson why.
Johnson extolled the economic successes of American Jews and said “it’s an indictment of America’s black community that has turned America’s major cities into slums because of laziness, drug use and sexual promiscuity,” according to a recording posted by CNN.
Johnson was active in Republican politics in Iowa for years, working for presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Donald Trump in the state, CNN said. He was a regular guest on conservative talk radio shows.
As a guest host on the AM radio program “Mickelson in the Morning,” in Iowa, Johnson spoke harshly of Muslims, saying radical Islam was “faithful Islam.”
“I never call it radical Islam, if anything, it is obedient Islam. It is faithful Islam.” Johnson said, according to audio posted by CNN.
He later said he agreed with the conservative author Dinesh D’Souza that “all that Islam has ever given us is oil and dead bodies over the last millennia and a half.”
In a statement given to CNN before his resignation, Johnson said he regretted the remarks and said they do not represent his personal or professional viewpoint.
“I have and will continue to work with leaders and members of all faiths as we jointly look to strengthen our safety and security as an interfaith community,” Johnson said. “Having witnessed leaders from the entire faith spectrum work to empower their communities I now see things much differently.”
The DHS, which had distanced itself from Johnson’s remarks earlier in the day, announced his resignation in the evening.
“His comments made prior to joining the Department of Homeland Security clearly do not reflect the values of DHS and the administration,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, the acting press secretary of the DHS, in a statement.
The news of the comments comes amid a national discussion about race that has grown more heated in recent years. A white supremacist rally at the site of a confederate monument in Charlottesville in August that devolved into violence brought the explosive issue of racial animus to the fore. The DHS’s travel ban, which followed a call by presidential candidate Donald Trump to prevent Muslim immigration, has increased the perception the Trump administration is hostile toward Islam. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who appointed Johnson when he was DHS secretary, touched off a firestorm last month when he defended the honor of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and said a “lack of compromise” had caused the Civil War.
The DHS’s Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships was created in 2006 after hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma to help religious and community organizations respond to emergencies and natural disasters. Its mission is also to “help combat human trafficking and the exploitation of the poor and vulnerable,” according to its website.
In March, Johnson had tweeted that the center was “driven by one simple, enduring, inspirational principle: LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.”
According to his biography on the site, Johnson regularly visited disaster areas to help these efforts, and represented the department and FEMA in regular speeches at conferences, churches, schools and civic groups across the country. The bio notes Johnson has worked as a minister and in teaching, consulting and broadcasting.