House Speaker Mike Johnson once blamed the fall of the Roman Empire on "homosexual behavior."
Johnson is a devout Christian who has called homosexuality "inherently unnatural."
Classical Rome embraced homosexuality through its rise and fall.
House Speaker Mike Johnson, a devout Christian, once blamed the fall of the Roman Empire on "homosexual behavior."
"Some credit to the fall of Rome to not only the deprivation of the society and the loss of morals, but also to the rampant homosexual behavior that was condoned by the society," Johnson said in a radio interview in 2008, as CNN first reported.
The claim that homosexual behavior brought down the Roman Empire is not supported by historical evidence.
Rome's collapse in the years leading up to AD 476 has been endlessly pored over — but rarely attributed to its sexual mores.
More common factors cited are government corruption, the vastness of the territory it tired to control, and invasions by barbarian tribes.
Most historians agree that same-sex sexual activity was tolerated and even accepted during the Roman Empire, although there were still some taboos. The main activity was men of high social status having sex with male slaves or other subordinates.
The Roman emperor Hadrian had a highly public relationship with a male teen while ruling over Rome at the peak of its imperial power around AD 120-130.
Johnson did not elaborate on why he believed homosexuality hastened the fall of Rome.
The idea has caused uproar before: a conservative Italian professor made a similar same claim in 2011, arguing that God destroyed the empire as "divine punishment" for homosexual behavior.
Johnson has been vocal about his objections to homosexuality and has argued for criminalizing gay sex.
He also once worked with a group, Exodus International, that promoted gay conversion therapy, CNN reported.
Johnson has previously written editorials in which he called homosexuality a "inherently unnatural" and a "dangerous lifestyle."
He has also expressed his views that being gay is a choice.
"Your race, creed, and sex are what you are, while homosexuality and cross-dressing are things you do," he wrote in another editorial. "This is a free country, but we don't give special protections for every person's bizarre choices."
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