Heretic on the Hill: Making the Swamp Great Again for Christians

On debate night Donald Trump and President Biden were tied in the national polls at 41 percent, with Kennedy at 9 percent (!), according to pretty good polling website Today it’s Trump 42, Biden 40, and Kennedy almost at 10 percent (I’ve been rounding). So Biden hurt himself in the debate, but not enough for it to be obvious to everyone including him that he can’t win now. He keeps saying he’s not going anywhere, and only a few family members and advisors could change his mind, and so far that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

The polls have stabilized at that two percent gap in the last week. The battleground states are very close, and there’s four months to fix things. But being old is something you just can’t fix. It’s not like a sex scandal that you can hope people will mostly have forgotten about by election day. (Bill Clinton’s final approval rating in office: 65%.) Actually a sex scandal would probably be helpful for Biden right about now. Bottom line, the debate performance made it a little more likely that Donald Trump wins the election.

What would happen then? I’ve mentioned Project 2025 here a few times. Today I’m going to expand on it as much as I can in a few paragraphs on a 920-page document. It’s the effort by conservatives, many of whom worked in the Trump administration, to be as ready to take over the government as they were unready in 2017 when no one had expected or planned for a Trump victory. The Project starts with people because as they say in DC, “personnel is policy.” The plan is to change the employment status of thousands of government employees who can’t now be fired without any reason by a new president, and then fire them. Project 2025 is taking resumes from thousands of conservatives who want to populate the federal agencies to make it more likely that Trump’s policies get carried out this time. Can he do that to thousands of federal employees? He actually did change their employment status during his term in 2020, but never actually got to the firing stage of the plan, and then Biden reversed it. So yes.

And what would all those new conservative, or maybe I should say MAGA, whatever that actually means, federal bureaucrats do? The 920-page document goes agency by agency with policy recommendations, programs to eliminate, and regulations to tweak. I shouldn’t be surprised that the words “religious” or “religion” show up 115 times and “faith-based” shows up another 31 times. Generally they want to keep religious schools and colleges free from government interference while getting them more federal money, let people use their religious beliefs to justify not doing part of their federal job, and strengthen the role of faith-based organizations while letting them discriminate in who they hire and who they help.

You can do the word searches yourself here. I picked out a few troubling sections:

  • Department of Labor: “Sabbath Rest. God ordained the Sabbath as a day of rest, and until very recently the Judeo-Christian tradition sought to honor that mandate by moral and legal regulation of work on that day… Congress should encourage communal rest by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act to require that workers be paid time and a half for hours worked on the Sabbath.”
  • Department of Health and Human Services: “Prohibit abortion travel funding. Providing funding for abortions increases the number of abortions and violates the conscience and religious freedom rights of Americans who object to subsidizing the taking of life.”
  • Department of Education: “Work with Congress to amend Title IX to include due process requirements; define “sex” under Title IX to mean only biological sex recognized at birth; and strengthen protections for faith-based educational institutions, programs, and activities.”

To be fair, Project 2025 is not actually affiliated with the Trump campaign. It is led by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, with input from other conservative organizations. Trump says, “I know nothing about Project 2025,” so we’ll add it to the list of those things he knows nothing about. But given his notable lack of interest in domestic policy issues other than tax cuts for the rich and corporations, I don’t know where else he would come up with a specific agenda for running the government or the people to hire for it.

Are Christian nationalists helping write Project 2025? Only if writing a column titled “Is there anything actually wrong with Christian nationalism?” qualifies you. That author was Russ Vought, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, a big job, and he is also in charge of writing the Republican platform for the convention. You can connect some dots.

Congressman Jared Huffman is leading the Democrat’s preparation for Project 2025. He has put together a task force of the appropriate House members and is developing an anti-Project 2025 resource center. (Almost public now). I contributed this summary of the Project 2025 section on the Department of Education to the Resource Center and I’m working on another agency now. Other organizations are lining up plaintiffs to take these policies to court if they are implemented. Obviously the best solution is to keep Donald Trump from getting the opportunity to implement any of this. Check our Secular America Votes page for information so that you and others get out and vote. And please spread the word about Project 2025.


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