People For the American Way and PFAW’s African American Ministers In Action are deeply troubled by a national Religious Right campaign to undermine church-state separation. “Project Blitz” is based on an escalating series of state legislation that proponents believe will allow them to first get a foothold in the states before pushing more aggressive and dangerous measures, starting with Christianity in the classroom and moving up to taxpayer-funded discrimination in adoption and foster care. On January 31, PFAW, AAMIA, and allied organizations urged lawmakers to oppose the “Project Blitz” agenda. You can download our statement here.
Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. It is a shield that protects everyone—the religious and nonreligious alike. Yet, an alarming effort is underway to harness the power of the government to impose its faith onto everyone else, including our public school students. This effort seeks to transform religious freedom into a sword that can be used to harm others, undermining important civil rights protections and health care access, especially for women, LGBTQ people, those of minority faiths, and the nonreligious.
We are united against these efforts.
In particular, we oppose “Project Blitz,” a new and coordinated national effort to enshrine Christian nationalism in state laws across the country. Project Blitz promotes a three-tiered framework of state bills meant to incrementally redefine religious freedom and tear down the separation of church and state, with each tier laying the groundwork for the next. This framework starts by pushing what its authors believe will be less controversial measures, such as requiring “In God We Trust” to be posted in public schools. Using those bills as a foothold, it then seeks to pass more dangerous legislation, like bills that allow taxpayer-funded agencies to turn away couples seeking to foster or adopt children in need of stable and loving homes because they are same-sex or the “wrong” religion.
The separation of church and state, however, is the linchpin of religious freedom and a hallmark of our democracy. It ensures that each person has the right to choose whether to practice a religion or be nonreligious without pressure from the government. It safeguards houses of worship from intrusion by the government and, at the same time, prevents religious institutions from harnessing the power of government to impose their religion on others. It protects parents who want to send their children to public schools without fear that they will be proselytized or forced to pray according to someone else’s faith tradition. And, it prohibits the government from allowing the use of religion to evade laws that protect civil rights and access to health care, including reproductive health care.
Therefore, we urge legislators across the country to oppose Project Blitz and similar legislative efforts. America—and religious freedom—are stronger when the government gives no religion or set of beliefs more power or preference than any other and when everyone is welcome and treated equally under the law.