By David Taylor
The Guardian (6/4/18)
The emboldened religious right has unleashed a wave of legislation across the United States since Donald Trump became president, as part of an organised bid to impose hardline Christian values across American society.
A playbook known as Project Blitz, developed by a collection of Christian groups, has provided state politicians with a set of off-the-shelf pro-Christian “model bills”.
Some legislation uses verbatim language from the “model bills’” created by a group called the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF), set up by a former Republican congressman which has a stated aim to “protect religious freedom, preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and promote prayer”.
At least 75 bills have been brought forward in more than 20 states during 2017 and 2018 which appear to be modelled on or have similar objectives to the playbook, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a campaign group which tracks legislation that undermines the principle of separation of church and state.
Since Donald Trump became president, rightwing groups are helping flood state legislatures with bills that promote hardline Christian conservative views.
Opponents warn that the CPCF (which claims more than 600 politicians as members across state legislatures ) is using the banner of “religious freedom” to impose Christianity on American public, political and cultural life.
In Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee so-called “In God We Trust” bills have become law since 2017, which will see the phrase emblazoned on public buildings, hung in schools and displayed on the side of public vehicles including police cars.
But the Project Blitz playbook sees those largely symbolic bills as just the first stage on the way to more hardline laws. They are presented as measures to preserve religious liberty, but are intended to give businesses, pastors and childcare providers the right to discriminate against LGBT people in line with their “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
‘Project Blitz’ playbook
Samantha Sokol, who studied the bills for the Americans United for Separation of Church and State campaign group said: “In God We Trust bills are the most common. We had 26 of those, they really just exploded this year. .
“I think that it is due to the promotion of Project Blitz. They have sent this playbook to state legislators and told them that these In God We Trust bills are the first step.”
She added: “Some would see these bills as very trivial and unimportant but even the most simple or trivial bills would really undermine American religious freedom and separation of church and state, and undermine the promise of our public schools that kids are welcome, whether they are religious or non-religious, whether they are evangelical Christians or not.” …
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-deriviative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )