A Christian Nationalist Blitz is Still Assaulting Your Civil Liberties — Just Under a Low Profile

As U.S. Church membership falls, pushback is growing from traditionalists across the country. Christian nationalist groups remain at the forefront of this culture war. These coalitions dump massive amounts of money into state and local governments to influence power-hungry politicians. Their desired ends are the realization of America as a Christian nation; their means are dismantling civil rights.

Project Blitz is a concerted effort to inject religion into government. Sponsors include the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, National Legal Foundation, and the ProFamily Legislative Network. They want to not only lobby for legislation in accordance with their values, they want the entire legislative system to concur with their religious viewpoint. For example, The National Legal Foundation mission statement invokes “God’s purpose” and the need to “glorify the Lord Jesus Christ” through government.

In their 2018-2019 guide, Project Blitz wrote 20 model bills and identified four categories of pertinence: 1) religious heritage; 2) religious history; 3) religious liberty protection; and 4) anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Their strategy is to first pass bills advancing innocuous demands that are expected to face low opposition; then, once these are signed into law, the goal is to drive more radical bills through state legislatures.

To further “prove” that America is a Christian nation, Project Blitz advocates for the public display of “In God We Trust.” The phrase — signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954 — is a rallying cry for Christian nationalists who are pushing to require displays of religious slogans like “In God We Trust” in schools, license plates, and government buildings. This includes Arizona’s motto “Ditat Deus,” Latin for “God Enriches.”

Arizona's State Seal, bearing the religious phrase "Ditat Deus"
Arizona’s State Seal, bearing the religious phrase “Ditat Deus”

Additionally, the state’s SB1289, signed into law in 2018, is modeled after the guide’s National Motto Display Act. Each time an Arizona In God We Trust license plate is sold, $17 goes to Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ+ organization that files lawsuits to enshrine Christianity in American government and jurisprudence. The aim is to curtail secularization by closing the gap between church and state in public life.

A billboard by American Atheists highlighting Arizona's "hate plates"
A billboard by American Atheists highlighting Arizona’s “hate plates”

It doesn’t stop there: Christian nationalists want to also regulate private life. To avoid “enormously expensive disease,” the playbook urges elected officials to legislate on public policy favoring sexual intercourse only between married heterosexual couples. (Meanwhile, they downplay the existence of coronavirus, an actual enormously expensive disease.) This recommendation is supposedly substantiated by “copious social science data and research.” No evidence is cited.

The list of unconstitutional policy proposals is a long one. Proclaiming American Christian heritage, denying civil rights to LGBTQ+ Americans, and proselytizing students in schools are just a few of the policy proposals. These encroachments attempt to shake the very foundations of a republic governed not by religion but by liberty.

These efforts were exposed in 2018 by national media publications and secular organizations, prompting Project Blitz to conceal their efforts. In 2020 they changed their name to Freedom For All and have since operated out of the limelight.

However, despite their current secrecy, bills spirited by the campaign have continuously hit Arizona’s state legislature. Passed in April 2021, SB1456 requires that parents opt-in to sex education curriculum for their children, including materials related to gender and sexuality in schools. This creates additional barriers for LGBTQ+ students to receive critically important education without parental religious objections. The innocent language of these bills embodies Christian nationalists’ strategy of claiming righteousness over issues concerning virtue while actively embracing discrimination.

Scene from a protest against anti-LGBTQ+ sex education bill SB1456

These concerted attempts are destined to continue under the radar if the local and national media, along with secular organizations, do not act once again as they did in 2018. Free speech and reason are anathemas to prejudice. There are various names for this blitz, but they all fall under the veil of Christian nationalism. Educating the public on the United States’ secular founding is a prudent way to curb these dangerous attacks on democracy, civil rights, and the freedom of conscience.

America is not a Christian nation. Nor will it ever be. Religious freedom is indeed a cherished freedom: however, lest it be forgotten, it also protects the liberty of nonreligious Americans. Marginalized communities must be protected against this extraordinary effort to not just weaken but dismantle civil rights. Atrocity looms when individuals fail to reason. The lies fueling this blitz will burn themselves out — such is the fate of falsehoods pedaled by overzealous dogmatism.

Sami Al-Asady is a Board member of Secular AZ, former Congressional Intern, and student at Arizona State University Barrett, The Honors College