Project 2025 April 10th Update



Project 2025 is a 920-page plan, spearheaded by the powerful and extreme far-right Heritage Foundation. This blueprint for autocracy is supported by more than 100 organizations. Their stated goal is to create an “ideal” America that would see women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, people of color, and others deprived of their hard-won constitutional rights and the erosion of environmental and education protections. It also advocates for a frightening centralization of power in the executive branch. Rooted in hate and Christian Nationalism, the plan promises to “rescue the country.” Read GPAHE’s full analysis of Project 2025 and the groups behind it.

GPAHE tracks the activities of those behind Project 2025, and their plans for an authoritarian and Christian Nationalist America, no matter who is president, and the groups in this extremist movement are relentlessly implementing initiatives at local, state, and federal levels. 

This week we look at Project 2025’s fight against surrogacy, a Project 2025 ally’s spread of misinformation, a collegiate swimmer turned anti-trans activist for Project 2025 organizations, and we’ll hear from Project 2025 supporters in their own words.

Project 2025 Organizations Battle Against Surrogacy

Project 2025 and the 100 far-right organizations standing behind it have made no secret of their staunch opposition to reproductive rights, ranging from the condemnation of recreational sex and birth control to the ultimate goal, a total ban on abortion.

But Christian Nationalists also adamantly include surrogacy, often the only recourse for infertile couples, on the list of reproductive rights they seek to curtail.

Project 2025’s founder, the Heritage Foundation, is stepping up its opposition to surrogacy of late, in its own media and with allies who parrot their talking points on Christian Nationalist platforms. 

Surrogacy is inherently problematic to the Christian right in that it allows same-sex couples to become parents, which is completely at odds with Project 2025 member organizations’ anti-LGBTQ+ stance. The far right’s opposition to surrogacy is well-documented, a position based on anecdotes and not science, and spans years.

“The child’s two dads, no matter how much they love her, wanted her, or paid for her, will never be able to fill her longing for a mother—her biological mother,” Heritage researcher Emma Waters wrote in February 2023. Waters again described the anti-reproductive rights view of surrogacy in January 2024, opposing a Michigan bill decriminalizing compensation for surrogates that would become law on April 1, 2024, despite her arguments.

“Surrogacy laws like Michigan’s exploit women by reducing them to “rent-a-womb” service providers. These laws seek, for all intents and purposes, to erase biological mothers (eg [sic] donors), biological fathers (sperm donors), and surrogate mothers from a child’s life,” Waters wrote, claiming the law would “encourage women to unnaturally distance themselves from the child they bear.”

On March 27, Waters went after surrogacy rights in Michigan again. “There is reason to believe that many surrogate-born children will not have the emotional or mental maturity to understand their conception and gestation until they are much older,” she pontificated, although Waters provided no studies or evidence to back up these claims. Instead, she cited a Heritage source describing an author’s speculation about a “primal wound” that may exist when a child is not raised by its birth mother.

But Heritage is far from alone in condemning surrogacy. As Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles, a frequent C-PAC guest who has lobbied for the “eradication of transgenderism from public life,” opined on April 5, 2024. “every single adult involved,” in surrogacy “should be imprisoned for life — at least.” 

Knowles hasn’t suddenly had a revelation bringing him into line with Project 2025’s agenda. He’s been calling reproductive rights such as IVF immoral since at least 2023, even declaring it akin to rape.

The Daily Wire podcast network, where Knowles spouts his claims, purports to be “America’s 6th largest podcast publisher and produces several of the top-ranked podcasts in America.” Also on their lineup is The Matt Walsh Show where the namesake host reaffirmed Heritage’s stance on surrogacy on his own  April 5, 2024 broadcast. “Surrogacy, especially commercial surrogacy, is arguably the most direct form of human commodification this side of slavery.” 

Project 2025 Supporter the Daily Caller’s Misinformation Ends in Retraction Regarding White House Easter Eggs 

The Daily Caller, founded by Tucker Carlson, is a radically  conservative media platform, a self-proclaimed member of the White House press pool, and boasts 20 million unique readers and 6.6 million Facebook followers.

Their journalism standards, which invariably support the goals of Project 2025, have often been called out.

The Caller has published work by Charlottesville’s 2017 Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, other virulently antisemitic authors, propped up the racist “Great Replacement” theory and denounced climate change activism, transgender rights and DEI programs, among other Project 2025 talking points. 

The “news” organization is notorious for publishing reports ranging from misleading to blatantly false to further the Christian Nationalist agenda. Retractions are unusual, but the far-right website bowed to fact and the egg industry in late March 2024 when it semi-retracted a story about President Joe Biden’s alleged Easter egg sacrilege, claiming Biden himself banned religious imagery from the White House eggs.

“Following the publication of this article, the Daily Caller became aware of additional context that undercut the central assertion of this article and its newsworthiness. The ban of religious symbolism on eggs as part of the White House Easter egg activities has been long-standing, dating back decades, and the Biden administration did not make any modifications to this rule,” The Daily Caller wrote in its rare apology for publishing misinformation.

But the article’s false claims ricocheted far and wide in the right-wing media echo chamber. Fox News repeated the story and decried President Biden’s perceived hatred of Easter as evidenced in the White House’s 2024 exhibit of Easter eggs created by children of National Guard families.

The stipulation that White House Easter eggs maintain religious neutrality is a decidedly non-woke, 47-year-old rule developed by the American Egg Board, which sponsors the event.

“The American Egg Board has been a supporter of the White House Easter Egg Roll for over 45 years and the guideline language referenced in recent news reports has consistently applied to the board since its founding, across administrations,” the American Egg Board clarified in a statement. “We have to be, excuse the pun, egg-nostic. And we also, most importantly, can’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual identity, any of that,” The Egg Board’s CEO Emily Metz said in a statement.

“So when we say, we can’t be overtly religious, we just can’t be seen to be promoting one religion over the other, the same way we can’t be seen to be promoting one political viewpoint or ideology over the other. We have to be totally neutral in everything we do and have it just be focused on egg promotion and marketing activities.” 

As of publication, Fox News shamefully continues to run with its misleading headline:

Swimmer Turned Pundit for Project 2025 Organizations Spreads Anti-Trans Propaganda

University of Kentucky graduate and former competitive swimmer Riley Gaines is the new political pundit for two Project 2025 anti-trans groups, although she speaks for many more. 

Gaines has quickly become an “ambassador” for the Independent Women’s Forum and has been embraced by the Leadership Institute, where she has launched the Riley Gaines Foundation. Both organizations are members of Project 2025’s advisory board.

Gaines initially used her outrage at tying for fifth place with a transgender woman at a 2022 swim meet to advocate for keeping transgender athletes out of school sports. 

Over time her arguments against transgender people have evolved, dovetailing with the marginalizing and dehumanizing anti-trans agendas of the Project 2025 organizations that promote her.

Gaines has parlayed her swim meet outrage into a brand, a platform reaching millions, book deals, and a class action lawsuit, making her one of Christian Nationalism’s brightest young stars.

Gaines hosts a podcast and has been a frequent guest on the Christian Nationalist media circuit, making multiple rounds at Fox News, NewsMax, the Daily Wire, the Daily Caller and speaking at Project 2025 partner Turning Point USA broadcasts and other events designed to court controversy

She’s also graced the stage at C-PAC. In 2022, just months after her fateful swim meet, she appeared at the podium alongside Donald Trump. In 2023 she was invited to sit on a “Panel on Transgenderism.”

“Gaines’ interviews on Fox News, though only a part of her media presence this past year and only one voice in the right-wing media discourse on trans athletics, signals how stated concerns over fairness are typically a stand-in for extreme and wide-ranging anti-trans sentiment,” Media Matters for America wrote in a June 2023 investigation of Gaines’ evolution since leaving athleticism for the far-right.

Gaines hosts her Gaines for Girls podcast for the conservative, Fox-owned platform Outkick, where she is described as “one of the most powerful voices in the fight to save women’s sports and spaces, but the fight is far from over! In each episode of Gaines For Girls, Riley will dive into the issues facing modern women, while hosting conversations with other leading ladies and guests who stand up for what’s right. The left’s woke culture war has nothing on Gaines For Girls!”

“No one is immune to this movement,” Gaines has said, hoping her frequent podcasts will appeal to young women and men looking to fulfill their “Biblical roles.”

“A bigot and a transphobe and a Christian nationalist — but of all the things to be called, I don’t think a Christian nationalist is a bad thing,” Gaines said in a February 1, 2024, FlashPoint interview on the evangelical Victory Channel while promoting her Christian children’s book Happy No Snakes Day.

But the movement Gaines champions has become more than just keeping transgender women out of women’s sports. 

In recent media appearances, she has expressed views depicting transgender people as threatening and unsafe for reasons far beyond their participation in competitive sports, describing them as conniving, disease-spreading predators targeting incarcerated women.

Gaines appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience on March 7, 2024, holding a lengthy conversation with her sympathetic host who amplified her anti-trans views to his 14.5 million subscribers. “Just say you’re a woman, grow out your hair, put some lipstick on and you can dominate women and you can get into women’s prisons,” she told Rogan.

Also in March 2024, 16 women, including Gaines, announced a lawsuit against the NCAA for allowing the transgender swimmer to compete, citing “cheating and discrimination against women” as the basis for their 156-page claim alleging Title IX violations.

Gaines addressed the alleged transgender prison violence in a Gaines for Girls episode on March 20, 2024, interviewing former inmate Amie Ichikawa, a fellow far-right media darling who works alongside Gaines as an ambassador for the Independent Women’s Forum, a Project 2025 advisory board member.

Ichikawa told Gaines that transgender male prisoners, who she says are most often sex offenders, look at opportunities to infiltrate women’s prison as “an unshucked oyster.” 

Gaines went into more detail on April 6, telling an audience at the University of Utah about a rash of male rapists pretending to be transgender women attacking women in correctional facilities across the country, and the epidemic of pregnancies and HIV this has provoked. 

“This has infiltrated into prisons now, where all-women’s correctional facilities, prisons, are running rampant with AIDS, Um, because inmates who are convicted of heinous things, the majority of the time being sexual crimes, they understand that the quickest way to get into a women’s prison, which sounds awesome to a rapist, is to say ‘I’m a woman.’ And they’re doing that and they are getting into these women’s prisons and they are impregnating them.”

Gaines has not only espoused the anti-trans ideology of Project 2025 groups she represents as an advocate for the erosion of transgender rights, she has turned it into a career. The 23-year-old’s autobiography will be published later this year.

In Their Own Words:

“Birth control is the number one prescribed medication for young ladies under the age of 25. They will give young ladies birth control for pimples, for acne, to control their moods, their period. It is awful, it’s terrible, and it creates very angry and bitter young ladies and young women.”

— Charlie Kirk of Project 2025 partner Turning Point USA. March 21, 2024, Freedom Night in America with Charlie Kirk.

“I’m here to tell you that now is the time more than any other time in our lifetimes to reject what the radical left wants you to be, which is to be discouraged, and instead dig ever deeper than we ever have before because this is the year 2024, when we take this country […] I’m not necessarily suggesting that we’re going to enter a season of warfare. But what I am suggesting is, at least figuratively, that the radical left has brought this culture of war to our feet. And we darn well better wake up and fight.”

— Kevin Roberts, President of the Heritage Foundation, April 2, 2024 at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference as reported by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

“[The Founders] looked at all societies throughout all history. They said, ‘We’ve got a unique chance in all the world to create a society. What should it look like? What should it be based on?’ They studied all societies and those forms of government, and they decided—when they had done all that—they needed to search the word of God. And so you can take the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence [and] you can literally tie it to a Bible verse; about every three or four words, it’s based upon another area of Scripture.”

— Michele Bachmann, Project 2025 ally on the US Constitution’s Biblical origins, March 22, 2024.

“A number of states, for example, have passed laws, saying that you can’t have this in the curriculum, or you can’t have that in the curriculum, and you can’t teach DEI and so on and so forth. Without exception, I can promise you, all the commies in the classroom changed the name of their lecture, changed one word, changed one little paragraph in the syllabus and did the exact same damn thing every single day because they’re communists and that’s what they do. Were they sued? No! Were they arrested if they broke a law and it’s applicable? No! Did any D.A. anywhere, if you’re talking about trans issues, think of arresting somebody for abusing children with trans ideology? No, we write blog posts about it. That’s what we do…”

— Former Trump aide Stephen Miller speaking at C-PAC on Feb 23, 2024 on his belief that teachers should be arrested for teaching DEI. Miller heads up Project 2025 partner America First Legal.

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