Photo Credit: Hulu’s A Handmaids Tale
Ealier I wrote about Project Blitz and their playbook is online. Dominionists want Gilead. They’re working to get it with three stages of legislation. Just so y’all know, everything below comes from the playbook, link above. It’s their own words.
Phase 1 seems very straight forward. “Legislation Regarding Our Country’s Religious Heritage”. At this point, the very words seem like a dangerous double speak. The proposed actions at first blush seem very innocent and toothless. But they are part of an insidious framework. Phase 1 has 4 simple aspects, but it starts to lay the groundwork of some truely nasty shit. So let’s dig in.
First is are the display acts. They want “In God We Trust”, or some similar motto such as “God Enriches” or the Ten Commandments in classrooms, libraries, public colleges, universities, and government buildings, and optionally on liscense plates. At first blush bills that propose this seem to have no teeth, all displays must be paid for with donations or with funds from private donors. No religious iconography or verbiage should be in schools, libraries, or governments. Just full stop, no. These are halls where the many become one in the eyes of the law. Dominionism and Christian Nationalism has no place there. Especially when you consider that people of color already experience disproportionatly negative outcomes in courthouses compare to white people, and that Dominionism claims that people of color are fundamentally lesser and full of more sin than white people. That’s how you perpetuate racism in the legal system, and it’s a human rights travesty as it is. It doesn’t need to be worse. Several states have laws in this vein, including Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
Civic Literacy acts are also part of the first phase. Again, this seems like a good idea, they define civic literacy as including familiary with “representative” documents of American heritage. Now I’m for improved civic literacy, but the representative options in the document are pretty exhaustive and school districts can select what they want to include or exclude. The best example is that the Articles of Confederation are completely ignored. This playing fast and loose with history leads to some bullshit like “the Civil War was fought over states rights” without adding the ending to that sentence “to own people as slaves”. There’s also a tenacious strain of Originalism that’s fed by this kind of education. It’s very easy to create an environment were people become dedicated to the idea that the US Consititution is this stable document rather than a living document. When you view the Constitution is viewed as a stable document, it’s easy to view non-cis, het, white, Christian men as less than human. Lastly, these acts say that civic literacy should start in high school. That’s a lot of elementary and middle school to lay some suspicious groundwork for document interpretation. Examples of states with this legislation: North Carolina, South Carolina, and California.
Of course to understand the civic documents fully, you need context. Then look no further than the Religion in Legal History acts. Not only does it endorse a presentation of the role of religion in the Constitution in the courthouses, it has some sketchy af readings. The required readings include the Northwest Ordinance. Now I have some personal history with the Northwest Ordinance. When I was taught the Northwest Ordinance in elementary school, I was told that it promised that the US government would treat all Indigenous peoples well (it didn’t) and that it outlawed slavery (only in the states it formed). I believed the teachers because I was in elementary school, and that’s what you do. So when I found out about how the Indigenous peoples were treated, and that the Civil War was fought over slavery, my world view took some strong hits. It’s not just that either, it’s also that the talking points in the playbook deliberately play lipservice to the “civil rights” in the Northwest Ordinance while at the same time reiterating over and over the “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind” part of Article 3.We’re meant to see the “civil rights” and ignore the emphasis on the Christianity. Not to mention, unlike the previous civic documents, this selection of historical documents should be taught early, at their recommendation. To my knowledge, no states have legislation of this flavor on their books.
Lastly is the Bible Literacy acts. They claim that these are elective courses for students in high school about the history and literature of the Old and New Testaments. This includes “the influence of the Old or New Testament on law, history, government, literature, art, customs, morals, values, and culture”. While the fill-in the blank act says the course “must be taught in an objective and non-proselytizing manner that does not attempt to indoctrinate students” there’s a lot of wiggle room for peer pressure and guest speakers to act inappropriately. It does also say that schools may offer a couse based on the books of a religion or society of a non-Christian one. But let’s be real, when was the last time you saw a high school class in Arkansas or Arizona about Islam? They also claim that so many of the American historical works can’t be understood with out understanding the Bible. Or that one can’t have a proper appreciation of literature without understanding the Bible. Which is funny, I can appreciate Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses without having read the Quran. I can also fully enjoy Into the Badlands (which is based off of the Journey to the West) without a full understanding of Buddhist mythology. It’s almost like we can enjoy art, beauty, and philosophy without needing a religious framework to do so. States with this flavor of legislation include: Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia.
These are all things that seem simple, innocuous, and because they focus on education, they often slip under the radar. But if you mold the minds of the young, its hard to break the patterns of thinking later. This happens at the state level, where people traditionally pay less attention, so push back when they come to your state with legislation like this.
Up next: Phase 2 “Resolutions and Proclamations Recognizing the Importance of Religious History and Freedom”.