In July the House Appropriations Committee voted in favor of an amendment that would allow faith-based child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, interfaith couples, single parents, and others. Earlier this year, I reported on attempts to include Bible study in public school curriculums and post plaques declaring "In God We Trust" in government buildings, including schools and courthouses.
Attempts to pass legislation forcing government-sanctioned religious expression and protecting discrimination on the basis of religion are spreading on the federal, state, and local levels under the guise of "religious freedom." And for this you can thank the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation and its Project Blitz campaign.
As you can tell by the name, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF) grew out of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and was established by the members of that caucus in 2005 "to build a network of like-minded government leaders who are committed to prayer and action." Recently, CPCF created Project Blitz, with the stated aim "To protect the free exercise of traditional Judeo-Christian religious values and beliefs in the public square, and to reclaim and properly define the narrative which supports such beliefs .... and to see the public discourse related thereto understood and defined on our terms" (emphasis added).
The campaign has enjoyed considerable success so far. The CPCF's 2017 Project Blitz manual is a lengthy guide for state legislators that collects model language for some twenty bills that push Christian religious priorities. These range from posting "In God We Trust" plaques, to attacking same-sex marriage and reproductive rights, to safeguarding the right of adoption agencies and foster care organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people while receiving public money. The manual offers not only actual language for the bills, but also strategies for their introduction and promotion, as well as talking points for legislators.
According to research by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, seventy-six bills have been introduced in state legislatures so far this year that contained language identical or similar to the Project Blitz manual. For example, no fewer than six states have already used Project Blitz language to mandate or allow the posting of "In God We Trust" signs in schools.
And CPCF sees those small victories as important steps towards changing the discussion about...