Since 2018, Americans United and its allies have been fighting against a religiopolitical movement known as “Project Blitz.” Each year Project Blitz – recently renamed “Freedom for All” – has created a playbook with model bills that would infuse Christianity into our laws. They give the playbook to thousands of legislators who can sneak these into their state’s laws. The group’s main goal is to establish America as an officially Christian nation.
Thanks to Americans United and its allies’ hard work against Project Blitz, most of the bills the radical group has produced have floundered in state legislatures. Extra media attention on Project Blitz’s nefarious plans forced them underground. Just days ago, however, journalist, researcher and church-state separation proponent Frederick Clarkson released Project Blitz’s 2020-2021 playbook. The playbook shows Project Blitz is just as intent on injecting their version of Christian values into the nation as in previous years. Nonetheless, the lack of change from past playbooks and the absence of any new explosive bills seems to indicate Project Blitz hasn’t had much success in their goals. I wonder if that’s because most Americans would prefer not to live in a theocracy?
Project Blitz’s overarching strategy is to have legislators start with “less controversial” bills, the idea being that they can get these bills passed in their states without much opposition. Once these bills, some of which would require public schools to offer classes on the Bible, are passed, Project Blitz aspires for legislators to introduce increasingly Christian-oriented and oppressive bills. The project’s ultimate aim is to pass laws that would allow the use of religion to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t strictly adhere to their biblical value system. Like other religious extremists that are driven by Dominionism – the belief that the government should be run by Christians and operate under biblical law – it’s obvious that Project Blitz wants the United States to become an atavistic theocracy.
With the new playbook exposed, Americans United and its allies can better understand the ways Project Blitz is trying to manipulate the nation for their own aims. The good news about the 2020-2021 playbook is that it doesn’t diverge much from previous playbook strategies. Besides the inclusion of a Ten Commandments display bill, which exposes the Christian favoritism they try to hide, and an attack on transgender folks through public libraries, which seems equally as absurd, Project Blitz hasn’t been able to pass many bills in the last two years. Nonetheless, any organization that seeks to use our secular laws to force others to live by their beliefs is a danger to church-state separation, so discounting Project Blitz would be a mistake. We still must fight hard for equality without exception, which groups like Project Blitz want to eliminate.
Although Project Blitz may be staying the course, other organizations are still pumping out more despotic and dangerous religious bills, and new organizations want to join the fray. The National Association of Christian Lawmakers (NACL), created in 2020, has the explicit political aim of filling public offices with Christians and pushing Christian legislation into law. Like Project Blitz, the NACL wants to provide model bills to legislators and help conservative Christians get elected. A Texas bill they’re looking to make a model bill makes abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat is detected and empowers citizens to sue doctors who perform abortions on fetuses with a heartbeat. The NACL will vote in the coming weeks whether they will make this their first model bill.
Unlike Project Blitz, which has influence over thousands of legislators, the NACL’s influence is still small. But, also unlike Project Blitz, the NACL hopes to create flagrant anti-abortion and discriminatory model bills. The need to stop these extremists from using religion to harm others is precisely why American’s United work defending church-state separation is so valuable.
It’s hard not to be inflamed by the acidic bills Christian nationalists are spewing. Bill mills are bad enough. They abuse understaffed legislative offices, and they create laws which represent narrow interest groups, not constituents. But these Christian nationalist bill mills, which produce strategic plans to place this country under a restrictive theocracy, are leagues worse. Organizations like Project Blitz and the NACL want to use religious freedom as a sword, slashing anti-discrimination protections for marginalized people. This kind of harm is antithetical to the pluralism, equality and freedom the United States prides itself on.
At the end of the day, these groups always have the First Amendment right to advocate for their beliefs. That is never in question. But we equally have the right to point out how harmful and oppressive these bills are, how dominion theology is exclusionary and harmful to the millions of people who aren’t biblical literalists, and how their religious beliefs should not be codified into our country’s secular laws. However weak these religious extremist groups may seem, it is pivotal that we keep them in check and preserve the freedom without favor that church-state separation guarantees.