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A Christian Nationalist Blitz
Report and Analysis on Religious Freedom Measures Impacting Prayer and Faith in America (2017 Version) 116 page PDF
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A Christian Nationalist Blitz
Blitz accurately describes the spirit of the enterprise, but the mission has little to do with what most Americans would call religious freedom. This is just the latest attempt by religious extremists to use the coercive powers of government to secure a privileged position in society for their version of Christianity.
The idea behind Project Blitz is to overwhelm state legislatures with bills based on centrally manufactured legislation. Its kind of like whack-a-mole for the other side; itll drive em crazy that theyll have to divide their resources out in opposing this, David Barton, the Christian nationalist historian and one of four members of Project Blitzs steering team, said in a conference call with state legislators from around the country that was later made public.
According to research provided by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, more than 70 bills before state legislatures appear to be based on Project Blitz templates or have similar objectives. Some of the bills are progressing rapidly. An Oklahoma measure, which has passed the legislature and is awaiting the governors signature, allows adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate on the basis of their own religious beliefs. Others, such as a Minnesota bill that would allow public schools to post In God We Trust signs on their walls, have provoked hostile debates in local and national media, which is in many cases the point of the exercise.
Project Blitz Seeks to Do for Christian Nationalism What ALEC Does for Big Business, reads the headline of a recent piece Frederick Clarkson wrote for Religion Dispatches that highlighted the danger. ALEC, of course, is the corporate lobbying group that crafts and promotes model legislation advancing business interests.
In their guidebook for state legislators and other allies, the authors of the Project Blitz program have grouped their model legislation into three categories, according to anticipated difficulty of passage. The first category consists of symbolic gestures, like resolutions to emblazon the motto In God We Trust on as many moving objects as possible (like, say, police cars).
Critics of such symbolic gestures often argue that they act as gateways to more extensive forms of state involvement in religion. It turns out that the Christian right agrees with them.
Theyre going to be things that people yell at, but they will help move the ball down the court, Mr. Barton said in the conference call.
The second, more difficult category for Project Blitz consists of bills intended to promote the teaching and celebration of Christianity in public schools and elsewhere. These bills are a means of spreading the message that Christian conservatives are the real Americans, and everybody else is here by invitation only.
The sponsors of Project Blitz have pinned their deepest hopes on the third and most contentious category of model legislation. The dream here is something that participants in the conference call referred to in awed tones as the Mississippi missile. The missile in question is Mississippis HB 1523, a 2016 law that allows private businesses and government employees to discriminate, against L.G.B.T. people for example, provided that they do so in accordance with sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill offers extraordinary protections, not to all religious beliefs per se, but to a very narrow set of beliefs associated mostly with conservative religion. If you hold a different set of religious beliefs, like, say, a commitment to gender and L.G.B.T. equality, there is no liberty in this bill for you.
In another piece of model legislation, the blitzers goal is to get state legislatures to resolve that, notwithstanding the Supreme Courts recent decision on same-sex marriage, This state supports and encourages marriage between one man and one woman and the desirability that intimate sexual relations only take place between such couples. We have known for a long time that Christian nationalists seek to control what goes on in other peoples bedrooms. The striking thing about this model bill is the cruelty with which it advances the argument. The bill claims that people in same-sex relationships have a higher instance of serious disease.
It would be touching to think that the sponsors of Project Blitz have at last turned their attention to health care, but, no their concern here, according to the guidebook, is that all of this gay sex is costing taxpayers lots of money estimated to be in the billions of dollars annually, according to the bill template.
If you examine the roster of people and organizations behind Project Blitz, it becomes clear that demeaning whole groups of people in society is really just a means to an end. The aim is political power. In their language, its sometimes called dominion meaning, specifically, the domination by those with the correct biblical worldview over all aspects of politics, culture and society.
David Barton is the founder of WallBuilders, an organization that promotes the view that America is a nation of, by and for Christians of a very specific variety. Buddy Pilgrim, another member of the Project Blitz steering team, is a businessman who founded Integrity Leadership, a ministry focused on equipping Christians with biblical principles for the workplace. According to Mr. Pilgrims website, Dominion in earthly realms of authority (business & politics) is a biblical mandate.
A third steering team member is Bill Dallas, a convicted embezzler who later founded United in Purpose, a data-collection operation that aims, among other things, to increase turnout of conservative evangelical voters in local, state and national elections. We have about 200 million files, so we have pretty much the whole voting population in our database, Mr. Dallas said in a Sept. 5, 2016, interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. What we do is track to see whats going to make somebody either vote one way, or not vote at all. In October 2016, Mr. Dallas offered a neat summary of his political philosophy, one built on an idea by Abraham Kuyper, There is not a place in the universe where Christ does not shout out, Mine!
One of the most remarkable features about Project Blitz has to do with the mood of its organizers. This is a very upbeat crowd. We have this window of opportunity now; I think were all feeling it, said Lea Carawan on the conference call. Ms. Carawan is a co-founder and the executive director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, which supports Project Blitz, and she is the fourth member of Project Blitzs steering team. We believe this is just the beginning, she said.
There is a story going around, on both the left and the right, that Americas true believers are a declining force and are now conducting desperate, defensive maneuvers in a secularizing society. But that is not how the leaders of the Christian Nationalist movement see it because it is not true. They played a key role in putting President Trump in power. They are protecting him now, as they giddily collect their winnings in legislatures and in the courts. Why should they doubt that they can pull off the same trick again?
What Christian nationalists know and many of us have yet to learn is that you dont need a majority to hijack a modern democracy. You just need a sizable minority, marinating in its grievances, willing to act as a bloc, and impervious to correction by fact or argument. Make this group feel good about itself by making other people feel bad about themselves, and dominion may well be in reach.
As with most of what Christian nationalists do these days, Project
Blitz and its form of religious freedom is as bad for religion as it
is for freedom. Religion, as most Americans understand it, has
something to do with care of the soul not ramming bills
through gerrymandered legislatures. And faith has something to do
with showing love for other people, not writing contempt for them
into the law.
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Hey, remember the angry evangelicals? The quivering clan of militant Christoholics who propelled Bush into office and seized the national narrative for a few terrifying moments about five years back, ran deep into the woods with it and rubbed it all over their naughty bits in a frenzy of fear and confusion and lust for all things homophobic and saccharine and spiritually denigrating?
Dying. Nearly dead. Gasping their last. Very soon to be a footnote, a caricature, a gag, a punch line, blasted to the dustbin of history like dried housefly limbs after a sneeze. You should know this now.
Yes, you are right; they already were a caricature, a cultural pothole, a nasty rash in the armpit of society. But it wasn't all that long ago that they were, through bizarre series of sociopolitical machinations still being parsed by baffled historians, a powerful rash, hugely newsworthy, as dangerous and unstoppable as they were wrongheaded and sad. Remember?
You were not much younger than you are right now. As the Bush era crested, as the neocons' power reached nuclear levels, when female nipples and f-words and evil gay agendas ruled the news, the evangelical Right -Ð led by the most virulent, spittle-flecked gaggle of mental throwbacks to ever stain the American newswires, the American Family Association and its nefarious leader, the Rev. Donald Wildmon -- this group controlled, for a brief, awful moment, the national dialogue. They were the temporary arbiters of taste, the warped conscience of a freaked-out culture. And lo, it was ugly.
Rejoice, won't you? For their time is over.
Did you know the AFA recently boycotted McDonald's? That's right, this once semi-powerful tub of right-wing brain-caulk recently declared a comestible fatwa against America's foremost purveyor of toxic foodstuffs because, apparently, some high-ranking McD's VP just joined the board of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which, to the AFA, somehow translates directly into free pink condoms and mind-controlling rainbow flags in every toxic God-fearing Happy Meal.
Did you read about that? No? Of course you didn't. Here is why: No one cared. Well, that's not quite true. McDonald's sort of cared, just enough to write up a nice letter of response to Wildmon stating, in essence, that the AFA is a bunch of troglodytic knuckle-draggers with the sociosexual awareness of a fungal spore, and they should crawl away right now before God spanks them even harder with the 2x4 of total irrelevance.
I might be exaggerating. What they actually said was: Thank you, AFA, for your hateful consideration, but we support our employees' right to join whichever socially responsible and positive groups they like. And thusly did McD's flick the AFA away like a tick from a dog. Isn't that amazing?
Now, you may argue that McDonald's and the other megacorps that the AFA has tried to boycott in the past, including Wal-Mart (for selling "Brokeback Mountain" DVDs to unsuspecting toddlers), the Disney Corporation (for its overall corporate support of the evil gay agenda) and the Ford Motor Company (for advertising in gay magazines), aren't shrugging off Wildmon's wide-eyed cult out of the goodness of their gay-loving hearts. It's not like the majority of McD's honchos actually give a damn about gay rights, or gay marriage, or social justice, or the deeper aspects of love.
Nossir, they do so purely for economic reasons, because it's just good PR, because they are safe in the knowledge that the AFA's rantings have exactly zero effect on their bottom line and lots of their own employees are gay -- and by the way discrimination based on sexual orientation is thoroughly illegal -- and therefore it simply makes more business sense to support tolerance than it does to endorse homophobia and general spiritual stupidity. Isn't that right, Boy Scouts of America? You bet it is.
But wait just a second: Is it still not fascinating in this day and age that our most powerful capitalist companies, those most associated with mainstream, dumbed-down, unhealthy, rather uninformed Republican Americana, even these megacorps are now openly and rather shamelessly supporting gay rights and tolerance?
Is it not, concomitantly, interesting that no one at all cares a whit for what the hell the AFA has to say anymore? Is this not a sign of something interesting and sea-changing and good? I think it is. McD's, Wal-Mart, Ford and Disney utterly ignore the Christian Right? What's next, an articulate black intellectual president? Oh wait.
It is made all the more amusing, more comical and cute, by another recent tidbit, the final evidence you will need that the evangelical Right has returned to its original state of inbred silliness, and therefore it is very likely indeed that you will never have to read anything more about them ever again until Wildmon (and his twin, Dr. James Dobson over at Focus on the Family), join Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms in the Great Gay Bath House in the sky.
It is this: The AFA's Web site apparently has (or rather, had, until just recently) an auto-filter installed. So utterly terrified of anything remotely gay are these kindly folk that whenever the word "gay" appeared in any news story on their site, their autobot automatically changed it to "homosexual." True.
Thus did it come to pass that many fine stories about American Olympic track and fieldster Tyson Gay become a whole lotta wacky stories about the epic struggles of some unlucky runner named "Tyson Homosexual" to post some good numbers in the 100-meter dash. Poor guy.
And that about does it. Your final proof that God laughs and snorts and doesn't give a flying McRib sandwich about any particular gaggle of humans, particularly those who profess that they know and love and worship him more violently and blindly than anyone else.
Somewhere in all this, a moral, a lesson. Perhaps a curious anecdote about how, in this country, it seems like every agenda, every stupid idea, every rancid fireball of ignorant religious fanaticism nevertheless gets its moment, its 15 minutes, its desperate shot at guiding the culture, just to see if it can, if there's something of value, if there's something to be learned.
And when it comes to the sad Christian nutballs, well, the lesson
appears to be wildly obvious indeed: Avoid the sad Christian
nutballs, now and forevermore. Hell, even God could've told you
Source: Mark Morford, sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/07/11/notes071108.DTL&nl=fix