Religious Interests and Legislation

I like to know where the food I eat and the legislation to which I am subject come from. Both are often too hard to trace!

This blog is on legislation rather than food. Specifically, on legislation that implicates religion. There is a rather new, concerted, and powerful legislative effort to privilege a particular kind of Christianity in each state.

Are you in a state that recently considered an “In God We Trust” bill about posting the national motto in every public school classroom, as was the case in Minnesota, or a bill that opponents argued would make it more difficult for anyone but married, heterosexual, Christian couples to adopt, as is the case in Oklahoma?

If so, it is likely that your state has been Project Blitz-ed.

You may have heard of ALEC. If you haven’t, you’ll want to know about it. ALEC is the American Legislative Council. ALEC provides model policies, from a conservative point-of-view, for state legislatures. Here is one model policy.

If you’re in a state where legislators are doing everything they can to fund options and alternatives to what they consider is bloated public education, you may have experienced the work of ALEC. Click here for their thinking about state budgets. Kansas was heavily influenced by such policies, until it was clear the math did not work.

Recently, I read a good, if chilling (from my point of view) article in the New York Times by Katherine Stewart on a religious parallel to ALEC. Read her article here about Project Blitz. You’ll get more good information on Project Blitz reading this piece from Frederick Clarkson in Religion Dispatches.

Project Blitz, through the leadership of Wallbuilders and Pro-Family Legislative Network founder David Barton, seeks to change the United States into what Barton and his partners believe America is at its best: a Christian nation in which every dominion of life—from religion to law to media to family—is “under the dominion” of the God they believe they agenda represents.

Project Blitz has a strategy, as evidenced in this publication of the Congregational Prayer Caucus Foundation. There are also many local chapters of the Prayer Caucus Foundation. (I looked up the one in Oklahoma, and it includes a majority of legislators in both houses. Note, the list is old and outdated, and it includes members of both parties; so, I have no idea what motivated any particular individual to sign on).

The sidebar in Clarkson’s article summarizes the three categories of legislation that Project Blitz favors: legislation regarding our country’s religious heritage (e.g., National Motto Display Act); resolutions and proclamations recognizing the importance of religious history and freedom (e.g., a Proclamation for a Christian Heritage Week); religious liberty protection legislation (e.g., Resolution Establishing Public Policy Favoring Adoption by Intact, Hetero-sexual, Marriage-based Families).

If you’d like to check which bills in each state fall into Project Blitz’s priority grid, see the grid here.

Okay, confession—and this is no news to anyone who has read more than one of my blogs. I come down very differently, in terms of values and beliefs and understanding of the public good, from the minds behind Project Blitz.

My point here is not related to my disagreement with them. But I did not know about the legislative agenda of Project Blitz/the Congregational Prayer Caucus Foundation until the NYT article was published. If there is a national (or international) interest behind a particular legislative proposal in my state, I want to know about it.

If someone claims a bill is all about religious freedom but is supported by a national organization with an explicit statement about which kind of families should be favored (and, therefore, which should be dis-favored) in adoption legislation, as there was this past legislative session in Oklahoma, we should know.