By Wendy Via and Heidi Beirich
Originally published in European Interest
The United States, once called the ‘beacon of democracy’ is facing a new and dangerous threat of authoritarianism and Christian Nationalism. And, if some of the groups behind this far-right movement have their way, European democracies would be next.
The far-right Heritage Foundation, with the support of more than 80 influential organizations — many well-known for their extreme positions and pushing hate — earlier this year published their Presidential Transition Project, otherwise known as Project 2025, intended for the “next conservative president.”
Project 2025, self-described as “building now for a conservative victory through policy, personnel, and training,” is nothing less than a blueprint for authoritarianism in the U.S. Our organization, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, has done a deep-dive analysis into Project 2025 and identified how the plan threatens Americans’ civil and human rights, and is an attack on its very democracy. The plan, under the guise of religious freedom, would impose on all Americans extreme policies pushed by Christian Nationalists, including draconian and reactionary measures when it comes to sexual health and reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ equality, racial equity, public education, the climate, and would preference an exclusionary interpretation of Christianity, stripping rights from other communities.
More than 80 groups, many with global influence and programs, are supporting this plan to dismantle a thriving, inclusive democracy, including the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), where the new U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson cut his teeth on using the courts to marginalize women, LGBTQ+ people, and others and impose his version of Christianity onto all. ADF was instrumental in recent U.S. court cases that denied women a right to their own bodies and secured the right to discriminate based on one’s religion. One of their clients even denied adoption to a couple because they were Jewish. Many other Project 2025 supporters are also well-known for their extreme positions and for pushing hate and Christian Nationalism.
This plan would also dangerously expand the executive branch’s powers including stripping the independence of the Department of Justice and FBI and politicizing their investigations by placing them in the hands of the president. This is a staggering threat as illustrated by Trump’s Nazi-inspired words, “we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American dream.”
This authoritarian plan should concern those outside the US as well. Extremist, far-right movements — from hardcore racist groups to more “mainstream” political movements — are increasingly transnational.
For example, CPAC events, a U.S.-based organization of which many of Project 2025’s supporters are sponsors, are well-known gatherings of global far-right players who push anti-LGBTQ+, anti-woman, and anti-immigrant agendas. Another example is Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni who said, “The U.S. is of course a point of reference for our alliances…We have networks connecting us, our think tanks work with the International Republican Institute, with the Heritage Foundation, we do cultural exchanges.”
Project 2025 supporter ADF and its global arm, Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADFI), has strong international ties and is well known for exporting their anti-reproductive freedom and anti-LGBTQ+ equality agenda from the U.S. to countries across Europe and using the courts to push its agenda. Despite its hateful platforms, ADFI is accredited and uses its collective influence at the UN, EU, Council of Europe, OSCE, European Court of Human Rights, and other international bodies. Another supporter of Project 2025, Family Research Council, has resources for “international religious freedom,” on their website. And the Institute for Women’s Health is committed to the global promotion of the anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ+ Geneva Consensus Declaration introduced by the Trump administration and forged between primarily authoritarian states that seek to undermine sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Geneva Consensus is not legally binding, and the U.S. and others have since withdrawn, however Project 2025 would see a return to the Trump administration’s focus on forging consensus “among like-minded countries in support of human life, women’s health, support of the family as the basic unit of human society, and defense of national sovereignty.”
Project 2025 would also have a profound effect on international organizations they view as “used to promote radical social policies as if they were human rights priorities,” and that the next administration “must promote a strict text-based interpretation of treaty obligations that does not consider human rights treaties as ‘living instruments.’” Project 2025 also suggests the U.S. resign from the UN, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which could greatly undermine these international institutions.
As we demonstrate in our analysis, Project 2025 is not a traditional ‘conservative’ plan. It is a threat to democracy, and we must treat it as such. We ask political leaders and the media, both in the U.S. and abroad, to accurately describe Project 2025 as a far-right, anti-democratic plan to implement authoritarianism guided by Christian Nationalism. People everywhere must know the truth when it comes to this dangerous agenda and the groups that are pushing it.