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Project 2025: A Christian Nationalist fever dream that would destroy American democracy
The 920-page document details how a future Republican president could turn the nation into a Christian theocracy
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If Donald Trump wins the 2024 election, or even if some other Republican ends up in the White House, conservative groups are prepared to destroy the federal government as we know it and replace it with their vision of a conservative Christian utopia.
That’s not hypothetical. The right-wing Heritage Foundation recently released a 920-page document outlining their plans for what they hope will be a second Trump term (or a first term for any other Republican). It’s called “Project 2025” and it’s a threat to anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus or that conservative extremists should control every aspect of government.
(I know it sounds similar to “Project Blitz,” the Christian Right’s playbook to change laws and revise history to promote an evangelical-friendly future for the country, and there’s plenty of overlap between the two, but they are different projects.)
Project 2025 is named after the year when the winner of the 2024 election would be inaugurated, and proponents don’t plan to waste any time gutting the government in the first 180 days of the new administration.
For example, they would reinstate Schedule F, giving them the power to reclassify, then fire, tens of thousands of career government employees… basically all the people who keep the government running and working smoothly. Replacing them with political cronies is virtually guaranteed to break the engine that keeps the nation functioning, which Republicans are eager to do so that they can blame the dysfunction they’re creating on Democrats.
To get around controversial Senate confirmations, Project 2025 says the president should simply appoint acting heads of agencies, giving more power to the Republican president with virtually no checks on his authority. The president could also authorize foreign arms sales without congressional approval.
There’s a “top to bottom overhaul” of the Department of Justice, particularly curbing its independence and ending FBI efforts to combat the spread of misinformation. It calls for stepped-up prosecution of anyone providing or distributing abortion pills by mail.
There are proposals to have the Pentagon “abolish” its recent diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, what the project calls the “woke” agenda, and reinstate service members discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
A lot of this reads like a Tucker Carlson fever dream. But make no mistake: It would elevate a conservative brand of Christianity above other faiths, no faith, and other kinds of Christian faith.
We see this in the first few pages, when Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts writes, “Today the Left is threatening the tax-exempt status of churches and charities that reject woke progressivism. They will soon turn to Christian schools and clubs with the same totalitarian intent.”
All of that is a lie. Church/state separation groups are not calling for churches to lose their tax-exempt statuses on the basis of their preaching; the only time that has come up is when pastors endorse political candidates from the pulpit, violating their own agreement with the IRS.
Elsewhere, the document claims “the Biden Administration has been hostile to people of faith, especially those with traditional beliefs about marriage, gender, and sexuality.”
The Biden administration opposes discrimination and bigotry; they have no problem with people of faith. (Biden is, in fact, a person of faith.) The fact that Project 2025 conflates the two says more about the type of Christianity they espouse than anything negative about the current administration.
Then consider how they plan to attack the education system (according to FFRF Action Fund, the lobbying arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation):
… in addition to eliminating the Department of Education — effectively weakening public schools across the country — Project 2025 calls for mandatory religious exemptions from accreditation “standards and criteria” for private schools. In other words, religious private schools and universities that fail to meet accreditation standards would be entitled to claim accreditation anyway — simply because of their religious beliefs.
Similarly, the document says no public institution could require a teacher to use a transgender student’s pronouns if it goes against the teacher’s religious beliefs.
Sex discrimination protections get attacked as well. The Obama administration allowed colleges to request religious exemptions when it came to Title IX rules, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The list of schools receiving those exemptions were made public. But Project 2025 aims to hide that “list of shame” from public view, making it harder for Americans to see which schools promote faith-based sex discrimination.
Project 2025 also wants to funnel federal grant money to “biblically based” groups that oppose marriage equality and transgender identities. Specifically, they want to reward groups who say marriage is between “one man and one unrelated woman.”
The document also condemns any “pressure to conform to nonreligious definitions of marriage and family” because those definitions treat gay people as people.
The conservatives at Project 2025 don’t want to see wages increased for workers across the board, but they do believe that anyone who works on the “Sabbath” should be eligible for overtime pay. (The goal is to pressure employers to simply not be open on Sundays, which coincides with the Christian version of a day of rest.)
There are multiple references to the country’s supposed “Judeo-Christian tradition, stretching back to Genesis” and all our “God-given” rights, but virtually no mention of non-Christian religious beliefs. As FFRF Action Fund notes, “the only mentions of Islam in the 920-page publication are references to Islamic terrorism and concerns over the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.” The document also says, “Religious devotion and spirituality are the greatest sources of happiness around the world.” (No citation is provided.)
There are other policy changes that would open the door to religious companies receiving loans from the Small Business Administration, endorse religious pharmacists who don’t want to provide contraception to patients, support religious bigots who run adoption and foster care agencies (with taxpayer dollars) but don’t want to work with same-sex couples, and give faith-based anti-vaxxers a way to spread diseases in the name of Jesus (while spreading a lie about how those vaccines were derived from “aborted fetal cell lines”).
In another section of the document written by anti-LGBTQ activist Roger Severino, he dismisses the CDC precautions that were taken during COVID to prevent mass gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus: “For example, how much risk mitigation is worth the price of shutting down churches on the holiest day of the Christian calendar and far beyond as happened in 2020? What is the proper balance of lives saved versus souls saved?”
Severino makes it sound like Christians were the only people who suffered during the pandemic and that going to in-person services was worth the cost of spreading a virus that has taken the lives of an estimated 6.7 million people worldwide. He believes the CDC’s policy was anti-Christian rather than pro-health and that any future science-based recommendations that inconvenience Christians should be tossed aside because he believes his mythological beliefs ought to override public health. The government should not be in the business of worrying about your eternal soul.
In short, Project 2025 is a Christian Nationalist wishlist that elevates white evangelical bigotry at the expense of pretty much everyone else. The document is meant to convince the Republican base that they should fall in line and vote for whoever the GOP’s presidential nominee is, even if it’s Donald Trump, and even if he’s ultimately convicted of his many, many crimes. But it should really serve as a warning for saner Americans about what’s at stake in the next election if they don’t vote for the Democrat or pretend to have principled reasons for sitting out the election entirely
The people behind Project 2025 have a $22 million budget to work with and an “advisory board” full of right-wing organizations with a long history of harming marginalized groups, spreading lies about American history, filing lawsuits to destroy civil rights protections, and banning books.
This is the future that awaits us if the Republican Party wins next year. It’s not fear-mongering. They’re literally telling us their plans.
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