FREDERICK CARLSON: Well, I can’t say that I did it entirely myself. A friend happened to stumble across it and said, I better tell a friend about this, knowing that I’ve been doing work on religious freedom-related issues for a long time. And, sure enough, you visit the website and you can still find it there to this day, I think. There it was, kind of buried in the website, a little hard to find, but it’s there hidden in plain sight. This 116-page strategy manual that offers 20 model bills about various aspects of the Christian right agenda all under the rubric of religious freedom. So there’s everything there from a model bills that would allow or require schools to post “In God We Trust” in the public schools. Other things would be resolutions. The state legislatures could pass allow honoring religious freedom day, but the more serious kinds of things are model legislation that would seriously affect the civil rights, particularly of gay and lesbian people by legalizing many of the things that were at issue in the Masterpiece Cake Shop, the decision the Supreme Court decided today.
So, if you were a business, you would – as a matter of religious conscience – not have to serve gay people. It was also a bill that would allow religious institutions not to be involved in adoption or foster care services for same sex couples. And it goes down the line in that way. So it’s a very serious and very considered legislative package. And I say that because they’ve taken the time to study what’s going on around the country, seen what’s worked and hasn’t worked, and to seriously learn from what has been happening so that they can do better going forward. And it comes complete with talking points and the general vision of the legislative strategy and the resources to back up legislative proposals if they’re made. So it’s a really remarkable document and I have to say in 30-plus years of doing research in this area, I’ve never seen anything like it.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Since you’ve written your article in late April and it’s gotten some publicity here in the U.S. and the U.S. press, not as much as it deserves of course, but what’s the response of some civil society groups who are certainly finding themselves on the opposite side of this “Project Blitz” Christian right agenda. And what if anything is percolating in terms of organizing opposition to this Christian nationalist agenda in state legislatures?
FREDERICK CARLSON: Well, we’re at a very early stage, but I will say that a group like the Interfaith Alliance and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are very concerned about it and want to do something, as does the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. My organization, Political Research Associates, organized a webinar a week or so ago with the Public Rights, Private Conscience Project at Columbia Law School and Americans United for Separation of Church and State and got about 80 leaders to participate in that to begin to get a grounding of what this means – what’s new and what’s different here and how should we begin to think about it.