Project 2025 May 8th Update

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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 how Project 2025’s Alliance Defending Freedom is promoting its anti-abortion agenda in the UK, how dark money is funding Project 2025’s authoritarian agenda, and how Project 2025’s anti-LGBTQ+ plans are being implemented in Tennessee.

Project 2025 Organization Takes The Battle Over Abortion Rights To The UK

In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s seismic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, the shockwaves are being felt far beyond American borders. The ruling seems to have emboldened the U.S. anti-abortion movement to intensify its efforts to roll back reproductive rights internationally, with the UK emerging as an important battleground, as Truthout reported.

A recent vote in the British Parliament highlighted how American-style anti-abortion tactics and rhetoric are being exported across the pond. MPs voted down an amendment from Labour’s Stella Creasy that would have allowed women in England to permanently access abortion pills by mail, as was temporarily allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Anti-choice groups such as the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) celebrated this defeat as a major win in their quest to dismantle abortion access. However, a 2023 poll showed that nearly 90 percent of Britons describe themselves as pro-choice.

What’s particularly concerning is how intertwined the U.S. and UK anti-abortion movements have become in recent years. ADF in particular has been working hand-in-glove with its British counterparts. They’ve exported model legislation, funding, strategic guidance, and more to organizations in the UK aiming to chip away at abortion rights.

ADF’s UK campaigns are based on successful strategies imported from U.S. anti-abortion groups. Although the UK is majority pro-choice and abortions are legal, nevertheless the anti-abortion movement is making inroads in the UK, manipulating social media and television appearances to make their movement seem larger than it is. These are million-dollar campaigns with US groups exporting their strategies to Europe for a global impact. 

Some of their campaigns include the clip posted to YouTube below, encouraging anti-abortion supporters to pray silently outside abortion providers’ offices.

“As if the US anti-abortion movement didn’t already have sufficient momentum, the Dobbs’ decision turbo-charged their motivation and reach,” Gillian Kane, the director of policy and advocacy research at the pro-choice, non-governmental organization Ipas, told openDemocracy.

“There are veteran organizations continuing their line of work, but also traditionally domestic-focused groups… see an opportunity to dip their toes in these crowded international waters.”

From 2017 to 2022, the last year tax records for ADF are available, its foreign expenditures have been $31 million, with the vast majority of that being spent on European anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns. Details as to which organizations were recipients are not required to be disclosed by the IRS, only the region where funds are sent.

ADF is also cozying up to British politicians, including MP Fiona Bruce, Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion of Belief, who has attended several ADF events, at least one of which had travel and expenses paid.

Part of what makes this international alliance so formidable is their sophisticated tactics that go beyond the usual emotional pleas to “protect the unborn.” These groups have become experts at co-opting progressive language around human rights, equality, and justice to reframe the entire issue as one about defending the civil liberties of fetuses. ADF International promotional materials boast of “35 victories before the European Court of Human Rights.”

They’ve also deliberately rebranded and portrayed themselves as modern women’s rights groups – despite having the goal of stripping women of bodily autonomy. This insidious rhetorical repackaging has allowed the anti-abortion movement to make alarming inroads overseas.

American-style draconian abortion bans such as those proposed and advocated for in Project 2025 could eventually take root on British soil as this “cultural war” escalates globally.

Now, pending new legislation that seeks to decriminalize abortion is also drawing outrage. “The vote on 15th May will signal the biggest decision on UK abortion law for a generation. Our current 24-week cap is long-outdated in light of scientific data we now have about babies’ development in the womb, ” Lois McLatchie Miller, Senior Legal Communications Officer for ADF UK said in a press release.

The legislation is in part a response to women increasingly being the target of criminal investigations regarding abortions. Since 2019, about 100 women have been investigated for abortions, including Carla Foster, a mother of three, who terminated her pregnancy during the pandemic after the 24-week cutoff and without a physician’s supervision, as British law requires. The court opined Foster needed “compassion not punishment,” as The Guardian reported. The May 15 vote is a step toward decriminalizing abortion altogether in the UK and ending imprisonment for women who abort outside the stipulations required by law.

Project 2025 And Dark Money

A well-funded conservative infrastructure has emerged, fueling the culture wars across America and Project 2025’s authoritarian agenda. Joining Leonard Leo and the Koch brothers at the center of this machine is the Bradley Impact Fund, a donor-advised fund that has rapidly become a major bankroller of far-right organizations.

Led by Gabriel Conger, a former adviser to Project 2025’s Heritage Foundation, the Bradley Impact Fund has experienced explosive growth in recent years. Its revenue jumped by over 650 percent after Conger took over in 2019, allowing the fund to ramp up donations to Project 2025 groups.

One of the biggest beneficiaries has been Project 2025 partner organization America First Legal (AFL), the brainchild of Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s hardline immigration agenda and a big fan of white nationalists. AFL has received over $27 million from Bradley, utilizing an aggressive “lawfare” strategy of filing legal complaints, some dubious, mostly on behalf of white men claiming discrimination under diversity, equity and inclusion policies, to garner media attention and fundraise off the controversy.

But AFL is just one part of Bradley’s expanding web of support for MAGA causes. The fund has poured millions into Turning Point USA, backed anti-Critical Race Theory groups, “parental rights” organizations, and efforts to undermine faith in elections. The Independent Women’s Forum is also a recipient as is Prager University Foundation, the Young America’s Foundation, and the Claremont Institute, all Project 2025 supporters receiving Bradley funds.

Much of Bradley’s funding comes from a small pool of secret donors taking advantage of the anonymity afforded by donor-advised funds. In 2022 alone, over 75 percent of its $108 million in contributions came from just four sources, including $12 million from the “dark money ATM” DonorsTrust, as Mother Jones reported.

This opaque money trail makes it difficult to identify the wealthy elite bankrolling the Christian Nationalist’s fight against the left’s “woke” policies. 

At the heart of this network sits Project 2025 supporter, Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a pro-Trump think tank that has received over $1 million from Bradley. As The American Prospect describes it, “CPI is a Wall Street–backed conservative incubator and training organization that continuously challenges the Biden administration in court. It is also a holding tank for right-wing extremists, replete with former (and potentially future) Trump staffers, like Mark Meadows and Cleta Mitchell.”

Backed by undisclosed donors funneling money through Bradley and other donor-advised funds, the rising Christian Nationalist money machine is shaping American politics and policy battles for years to come – all while keeping its financial backers in the shadows.

The Anti-LGBTQ+ Project 2025 Agenda Behind Tennessee’s Adoption Law

Tennessee passed a disturbing new law on April 9, 2024, that allows adoption and foster agencies to permit placement of LGBTQ+ children with prospective parents whose religious beliefs reject the child’s gender identity, The Hill reported. 

The “Tennessee Foster and Adoptive Parent Protection Act” prohibits the state from requiring families to “affirm, accept, or support” LGBTQ+ identities if it conflicts with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” This means families who hold openly anti-LGBTQ+ views cannot be automatically disqualified from adopting or fostering queer and transgender youth. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2024.

While proponents claim it increases adoption opportunities, the real agenda is clear, to legitimize discrimination against LGBTQ+ kids under the guise of “religious freedom.” And behind this rhetoric is the powerful influence of anti-LGBTQ+ legal groups like Project 2025’s Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Tennessee currently has 8,854 children in state custody with 6,686 of them residing in foster homes. On a national average, more than 30 percent of children in custody identify as LBGTQ+, many of whom end up in state custody due to abuse and mistreatment, the Tennessee Lookout reports. 

The ADF is a major force driving legislation that allows religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ+ people across the country. This Christian conservative organization has campaigned relentlessly for laws giving federally-funded child welfare providers and adoption agencies a license to turn away prospective LGBTQ+ parents or place kids in homes that condemn their identity.

Their advocacy rests on the premise that religious objectors should be exempt from anti-discrimination rules in adoption or foster care. The ADF contends this protects their constitutional right to freely exercise their beliefs against homosexuality and transgenderism.

In reality, these “conscience protection” laws risk subjecting LGBTQ+ youth to hostile, rejecting environments that are proven to inflict severe psychological harm. Studies overwhelmingly show queer and trans kids require affirmation of their identity to develop properly – deprivation leads to much higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide attempts.

The ADF has enjoyed major Supreme Court victories enabling discrimination, like the 2021 Fulton v. Philadelphia ruling siding with a taxpayer-funded Catholic foster agency that turned away same-sex couples.

In December 2021, a Jewish couple in Tennessee, Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram, filed a lawsuit claiming a state-funded adoption and foster care agency, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, denied services to the Rutan-Rams for not being Christian. 

ADF represented the Christian adoption and foster agency in a federal lawsuit alleging unconstitutional religious discrimination. In September 2023 the couple won the right to sue Holston.

But ADF has had much greater success with the new law. Supporters insist the law doesn’t disregard children’s values or beliefs. But by sanctioning discriminatory household placements which promote anti-LGBTQ+ views as valid, the state is in fact communicating the opposite – that LGBTQ+ identities are inferior and rejectable.

It grants legal cover for indoctrinating children with fundamentalist dogma hostile to who they are, while ignoring professional guidance stressing the paramount duty to affirm LGBTQ+ foster children’s identity. As a result, the harmful, discredited practice of conversion therapy, which Tennessee does not ban, imposing heterosexual and cisgender norms could proliferate.

Anti-LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations like ADF advance a fear-mongering, pseudoscientific agenda rooted more in animus than fact. Their self-serving claims of protecting religious liberty far too often inflict tangible harm against the health and welfare of LGBTQ+ Americans.

By capitulating to ADF demands, Tennessee has shamefully enabled state-sanctioned discrimination and psychological abuse against queer and trans kids within its foster system. This law grants a legal weapon to anti-LGBTQ+ extremists and puts the well-being of youth at grave risk.

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