Jan 31, 2019

A broad coalition of prominent religious, civil rights, secular, LGBTQ and reproductive freedom organizations joined together today to urge state lawmakers across the country to oppose legislation that uses religion as the basis for discrimination. The organizations issued a national statement warning legislators of an alarming effort to transform religious freedom into a sword to harm others, especially women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and the nonreligious.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the national organization protecting religious freedom for all, has been at the forefront of fighting back against a new wave of Christian nationalism bills, which are part of a coordinated effort by the Religious Right called “Project Blitz.” AU has been tracking these bills and notes an escalation in their introductions around the country.

The statement describes Project Blitz as “a three-tiered framework of state bills meant to incrementally redefine religious freedom and tear down the separation of church and state, with each tier laying the groundwork for the next.”

The framework starts by pushing what its authors believe will be less controversial measures – such as displaying “In God We Trust” in public schools and buildings or establishing Bible classes in public schools. Once Project Blitz architects have a foothold in a state, they seek to pass more aggressive and dangerous legislation, such as allowing prayer in public schools or permitting taxpayer-funded agencies to discriminate against couples seeking to foster or adopt children because they are LGBTQ or the “wrong” religion.

“This diverse group of powerhouse organizations and religious denominations came together to expose the truth behind Project Blitz – Christian nationalism and the weaponization of religion as the basis for discrimination,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. “Project Blitz aims to corrupt our cherished principle of separation of religion and government, the cornerstone of religious freedom for all. That’s why our broad coalition is joining together to speak out against this divisive, dangerous agenda that has no place in America.”  

The organizations assert in their statement: “America – and religious freedom – are stronger when the government gives no religion or set of beliefs more power or preference than any other and when everyone is welcome and treated equally under the law.”

The broad list of signers includes numerous religious and denominational organizations, ranging from the National Council of Churches to the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Hindu American Foundation. Also included are LGBTQ groups, including HRC and Lambda Legal; reproductive freedom groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America; civil rights groups, such as the ACLU and Anti-Defamation League; and secular organizations, including American Atheists.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.