The Far-Right Playbook for American Authoritarianism

Project 2025

The far right has made public its plans for an ‘ideal’ America if one of their allies wins the 2024 presidential election in its 2025 Presidential Transition Project. Project 2025 is spearheaded by the far-right think tank Heritage Foundation and supported by more than 80 organizations, many well-known for their extreme positions, and for pushing hate and Christian nationalism. The authors and supporters of Project 2025 claim this plan will “rescue the country” from “elite rule and woke cultural warriors.”

Their aims include “bringing together conservative allies with a common goal: to take back our country from the radical Left by developing a robust governing agenda and the right people to implement it.” And it has been reported, though denied, that internal Project 2025 discussions have centered around the next conservative president invoking the Insurrection Act on the first day in office to allow the military to quell civil unrest.

Project 2025 is a threat to our democracy, and we must treat it as such.

That “robust governing agenda” bears the hallmarks of authoritarianism. It threatens Americans’ civil and human rights and our very democracy. The America that Project 2025 wants to create would involve a fundamental reordering of our society. It would greatly enhance the executive branch’s powers and impose on all Americans policies favored by Christian nationalists regarding issues such as sexual health and reproductive rights, education, the family, and the role of religion in our society and government. It would strip rights protections from LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, women, and people of color. It would dismantle much of the federal government and replace our apolitical civil service with far-right partisans it is already training in anticipation of a power shift. It would end attempts to enhance equity and racial justice throughout the government and shut down agencies that track progress on this front. Efforts to tackle issues such as climate change would be ended, and politicized research produced to back the project’s views on environmental policy, the evils of “transgenderism,” and women’s health would take priority.

Project 2025 is an authoritarian roadmap to dismantling a thriving, inclusive democracy for all.

Even if a Project 2025 favorite doesn’t win in 2024, this plan will continue to drive the thinking of the far right into the future and they will continue to push for these changes wherever possible.

As a country, we can — and we must – reject the far right’s efforts to lead us down the dark path away from an inclusive, vibrant democracy and toward authoritarianism.

The Main Elements of Project 2025

GPAHE’s analysis of Project 2025 focuses on two issues.  First, a description of the Project’s Advisory Board’s supportive organizations, outlining their assertions, activities, and beliefs, many of which can be described as extremely far right. Second, it analyzes their plans for a far-right presidential administration as laid out in the project’s main text, Mandate for Leadership: A Conservative Promise. This analysis identifies the aspects of Project 2025 that promote increasing authoritarianism as defined in Protect Democracy’s The Authoritarian Playbook, specifically: the politicizing of independent institutions, spreading disinformation, aggrandizing executive power, weakening checks and balances, quashing criticism or dissent, marginalizing and restricting the rights of specific communities, corrupting elections, and stoking violence.

Project 2025: A Blueprint for Authoritarianism

Authoritarian regimes generally abolish or restrict civil liberties, concentrate political power, and  impede and weaken free elections that allow for alternations of power. Authoritarian states might nominally contain democratic institutions such as political parties, legislatures, and elections, which are managed in such a way as to entrench authoritarian rule, for example gerrymandering and a restriction of social services, including education. Authoritarianism’s opposite is liberal democracy, which the bipartisan Freedom House, the oldest American institution defending global democracy, defines as encompassing much more than elections and majority rule. Liberal democracies are typified by governance based on the consent of the governed, accountable institutions, adherence to rule of law and respect for human rights. They have independent courts, an independent press, and a thriving civil society. Liberal democracies are open to changes in power, “with rival candidates or parties competing fairly to govern for the good of the public as a whole, not just themselves or those who voted for them.” 

The path to authoritarianism usually first involves democratic backsliding, propelled by political figures and parties with authoritarian instincts who employ specific tactics. These factors are evident in Project 2025, which explicitly advocates politicizing independent institutions by replacing the federal bureaucracy with conservative activists and removing independence for many agencies. It advocates for gutting what it calls the “Deep State,” a conspiracy theory shared by the Project’s authors that blames civil servants for a coordinated effort to undermine a conservative agenda. Project 2025 claims to already be recruiting and training those who would replace career civil servants, with Project Director Paul Dans saying, “We want conservative warriors.” 

Trump and many of his supporters have bought into the idea that this Deep State undermined his presidency, particularly regarding his relationship with Russia, and by sabotaging his policies. For example, the Project claims that “bureaucrats at the Department of Education inject racist, anti-American, ahistorical propaganda into America’s classrooms” and “bureaucrats at the State Department infuse U.S. foreign aid programs with woke extremism about ‘intersectionality’ and abortion.” There is no evidence for these claims. 

Perhaps most ominous, Project 2025 targets the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. The Project states about the next president that “he will need to decide expeditiously how to handle any major ongoing litigation or other pending legal matters that might present a challenge to his agenda” rather than allowing the DOJ and FBI to act independently to ensure the rule of law. A very real fear with Project 2025’s recommendations for the president to take control of investigations and prosecutions is that a president will abuse that power to target political rivals and those who disagree with their policies. Since Watergate, presidents of both parties have worked to ensure the independence of prosecutions from political influence. 

There are several elements of the project that spread disinformation about medical issues including COVID, abortion, sexual and reproductive health rights, sex education, and other issues, including DEI programs, climate change, civil rights, and marginalized communities, especially the LGBTQ+ community. The entire project is devoted to aggrandizing executive power by centralizing authority in the presidency, and a key aspect of democratic backsliding is viewing opposition elements as attempting to destroy the “real” community, an essential aspect to quashing dissent. Project 2025 paints progressives and liberals as outside acceptable politics, and not just ideological opponents, but inherently anti-American and “replacing American values.” Targeting vulnerable communities is a core tenet of Project 2025. Certain populations, in particular the LGBTQ+ community, are treated as deviants with ill intent rather than humans and Americans, and do not appear to exist within the far right’s framework of those deserving of fulsome human rights and protection from discrimination. Perhaps even more frightening, the left, the LGBTQ+ population, and the “woke,” are described as subversive elements aimed at destroying the country and its “real values.” The attack on the LGBTQ+ population is particularly ominous as recent research by UCLA’s Williams Institute has found a correlation between democratic backsliding and diminution in the rights of LGBTQ+ communities. LGBTQ+ people are the canaries in the authoritarian coal mine.

Protect Democracy points to two other factors as key to growing authoritarianism: stoking violence and corrupting elections. Trump was notorious for stoking violence against political opponents, those who upheld Biden’s 2020 election win, and election workers. And during his campaign rallies where supporters violently attacked people, he verbally attacked immigrants and other communities, and even suggested he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it. Trump’s words and his authoritarian ways have made the U.S. a more dangerous place based on an October 2023 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. Nearly one in four Americans now believe political violence is justified to “save” the U.S., a higher number than just two years ago. The numbers grow even higher among Americans who believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, to nearly one in every two people; among Americans who like Trump, to 41 percent; among Americans who believe in the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, to 41 percent; and among Americans who believe the core tenet of white Christian nationalism, that God intended America to be a new promised land for European Christians, to 39 percent. 

This has real world implications. A Reuters investigation published in August 2023 showed that political violence began rising in 2016, in tandem with Trump’s leadership. Research from the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center (NCITE) published that same month found that threats against public officials are growing. And, of course, there was the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, which was encouraged by Trump, and combined stoking mob violence with corrupting elections to prevent certification of the 2020 presidential results. NCITE found that the second most targeted group for political violence were elected officials and those who run or manage elections, who have been abandoning their positions in droves since 2020 due to threats from Trump supporters and the election denial movement that grew in the wake of Trump’s constant barrage of lies about the outcome of the 2020 election. This has profoundly harmed America’s election system.

Trump has been identified as a key factor in American democratic backsliding. The Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance found in 2021 that the U.S. “fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale.” The Institute pointed to Trump and called his baseless questioning of the legitimacy of the 2020 election results a “historic turning point” that “undermined fundamental trust in the electoral process” and culminated in the Capitol insurrection. America’s V-Dem democracy index score shows a peak in 2015 and a sharp decline after 2016. In 2018, the U.S. was downgraded to a “flawed democracy” by the Economist Intelligence Unit in its annual Democracy Index report and by Freedom House. The Brookings Institute in 2023 pointed to two factors in American democratic decline: election manipulation and executive overreach. It also pointed to a decline in non-governmental institutions critical to a healthy public sphere, including an independent media, a thriving education system, and an engaged civil society, as symptoms of democratic backsliding.

Project 2025 would further advance democratic backsliding in the U.S.

It would politicize key institutions such as the Department of Justice and strip civil rights protections from multiple communities, but particularly the LGBTQ+ community. The Project especially demonizes the transgender community, equating “transgenderism” and “transgender ideology” with “pornography.” Immigrants are demonized with false claims of inherent criminality, turning them into a national security threat that must be dealt with harshly. And anti-Black racism is evident in the Project’s sweeping denunciation of “the noxious tenets” of Critical Race Theory (only taught at the college level and beyond) which it falsely claims is “advocating for more racial discrimination” rather than acknowledging America’s history of racism. Authoritarian states often frame themselves as standing against a mortal threat. Project 2025 appears to describe a two-fold threat. Internationally, it is China, describing it as “the defining threat to U.S. interests in the 21st century.” Domestically, it is the left, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, and those advocating for racial and social justice. They too are treated as enemies of the state.

Typical to democratic backsliding, the Project attacks the media and voting. It proposes ending government funding for nonpartisan media such as NPR and PBS, which they describe as “compelling the conservative half of the country to pay for the suppression of its own views” and argues for aggressive investigation of leaks to the media. It describes “mainstream media” as an “anti-U.S. chorus” that is “denigrating the American story.” It would make voting more difficult, and proposes more aggressive prosecution of so-called voter fraud, for instance moving DOJ  investigations from its Civil Rights Division to the Criminal Division because, “Otherwise, voter registration fraud and unlawful ballot correction will remain federal election offenses that are never appropriately investigated and prosecuted.” It also proposes a full-scale review of DOJ’s election guidance to states on various forms of voting and is adamantly against any efforts the DOJ has engaged in to protect elections, condemning DOJ’s suits against multiple states to enhance election integrity.

Many of the principals involved in Project 2025 are also key players in another effort that is aimed at restricting civil rights and gutting the federal government, the Convention of the States, (COS) whose president Mark Meckler is co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. Among the senior supporters to the Convention of States is ALEC, Michael Farris, former CEO of the rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ Alliance Defending Freedom, and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Also supporting are far-right extremists Ben Shapiro and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk. 

The Convention of the States (COS), like Project 2025, has not received the attention it deserves. The plan is to alter the Constitution through amendments using Article V, which empowers states to call for a constitutional convention. The article reads, “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments. It should be noted that almost no rules apply to an Article V convention and the consequences could be dire for our democracy and our civil and human rights. So far, 28 states, six shy of the required 34, have called for a constitutional convention aimed at sharply reducing federal powers through the Convention of States campaign or other convention campaigns. COS has passed its resolution in 19 states and has had its legislation introduced in enough states to achieve the convention should they all pass it. On its site, the COS wants to limit the powers of the federal government, achieve “fiscal responsibility,” and impose term limits. In their simulated conventions, they agreed to seek to restrict the federal government’s discretionary spending authority, land ownership rights, and ability to regulate interstate commerce. It would also remove from the federal government the power to enforce any federal law or regulation with which the majority of state legislatures disagree. Unbelievably radical, this would allow a simple majority of states to band together to rescind any act of Congress, the president, or a federal agency. Furthermore, it gives state legislatures exclusive power to nullify federal laws and regulations, making it clear that “state executive and judicial branches shall have no authority or involvement in this process.” COS also adopted a proposal to restrict the Commerce Clause, which is the basis for most federal environmental, labor, consumer, and civil rights protections, and nullify all existing laws and regulations in conflict with COS’ reading of the Constitution. 

Make no mistake, democracies can and do succumb to illiberalism, sometimes rather quickly. There is a pattern to democratic backsliding that has played out in formerly democratic countries like Hungary, where civil liberties have been curtailed, marginalized communities have had their rights stripped, media is co-opted by the regime, and elections are not free and fair due to various tactics, including keeping opposition parties from publicizing their proposed policies. This is the path Hungary has taken under the rule of Victor Orbán. Starting with attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and migrants, the Orbán regime progressively undermined independent institutions installing its partisans in the Constitutional Court, the National Media Authority, the Competition Authority, the State Audit Office, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Independent media was gobbled up by Orban allies, academics attacked, and the ability of opposition parties to fairly run in elections stymied. It also redefined “real” Hungarians as Christians. In 2022, the European Commission decided to hold back millions in E.U. funds until Hungary meets conditions related to judicial independence, academic freedom, LGBTQ+ rights and the asylum system. That same year, the European Parliament issued a statement that Hungary could no longer be considered “a full democracy,” but is rather an “electoral autocracy.” The EU money was still on hold as of November 2023. Here in the U.S., the far right applauds Orbán, who has spoken at far-right extremist events like CPAC repeatedly and hosted far-right Americans including Trump and Tucker Carlson in Budapest. Project 2025 would set the U.S. on the Hungarian path if implemented.

The Role of Christian Nationalism

Project 2025 is very clearly on a path to Christian Nationalism as well as authoritarianism. It rejects the constitutional separation of Church and State, rather privileging religious beliefs over civil laws. Religious freedom is referenced throughout the plan and is seen to trump all other civil rights which should be subsumed to an individual’s religious rights. The message that America must remain Christian, that Christianity should enjoy a privileged place in society, and that the government must take steps to ensure this is clear in every section of the plan, as is the idea that American identity cannot be separated from Christianity.

As a result, Project 2025 favors a government mandated by biblical principles, which excludes certain communities, particularly the LGBTQ+ community, from civil rights protections.

To accomplish this, the Project relies heavily on interpretations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which states “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” It has been described by the Supreme Court as a “kind of super statute, displacing the normal operation of other federal laws [that] might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases.” RFRA, passed in 1993 with almost unanimous approval from the House and Senate, was originally intended to protect religious exercise but has over the years been used to erode civil rights and deny healthcare under the guise of religious freedom, as in the case of Burwell v Hobby Lobby, where the Supreme Court ruled that employers could deny certain healthcare services if it went against their religious beliefs. In Bostock v Clayton Country, the Court ruled that discrimination based on sex includes protection for sexual orientation and transgender status which the Project demands be very narrowly interpreted to only include hiring and firing and that all materials in federal agencies that would interpret Bostock more liberally be withdrawn.

This plan is for the next conservative president, but the Project’s sponsors have been working to achieve this vision for years and will continue to do so, regardless of who wins in 2024. Official supporters of Project 2025, specifically the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), have had much success with recent Supreme Court rulings on abortion and a company’s right to refuse service based on religious principles. Little could have been as fortuitous for this movement as the election of Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.), a former employee of the anti-LGBTQ+ ADF, to U.S. House Speaker, second in line to the presidency. He is an election denier who claims his worldview can be ascertained from the Bible, including its denial of evolution and a belief that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, despite all science to the contrary. Former ADF head, Michael Farris, has said that Johnson is the highest-ranking biblically-trained conservative Christian that he and his fellow evangelical Christians have ever seen and that Johnson will usher in the most conservative House of Representatives. 

The Project’s Christian Nationalist goals are inherent in its dehumanizing language about LGBTQ+ people, putting them in the same sentence as pornography and pedophilia, rabid rejection of “wokeness,” its promotion of the “traditional family” writing that, Families comprised of a married mother, father, and their children are the foundation of a well-ordered nation and healthy society,” its certainty that gender identity is binary and that being LGBTQ+ is an ideology rather than a natural state. It goes on to say that work on the Sabbath should be paid at time and a half, and that the government should protect the “letter and spirit of religious freedom and conscience-protection law,” and employers should be able to abide by their religious beliefs regarding marriage, the LGBTQ+ community, women’s healthcare, race, and any other religiously held conviction regardless of anti-discrimination laws. The Project wants a “general statement of policy specifying that it (the government) will not enforce any rules against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by healthcare providers who receive federal funds in the Affordable Healthcare Act, and indeed, the DOJ should aggressively defend a provider’s right to discriminate in court challenges.” 

Many of the Project’s recommendations are based on the false idea that the “Left” is determined to rescind religious protections saying, “Today the Left is threatening the tax-exempt status of churches and charities that reject woke progressivism. They will soon turn to Christian schools and clubs with the same totalitarian intent.” And about education, it would upend the accreditation requirements for schools and universities by removing rules the Project sees as biased against religious schools or doctrine, but still allow Title IV funds to be available to these institutions. It also wants an executive order to remove what it calls the “list of shame,” the list of schools that have applied for religious exemptions to Title IX, from the Department of Education website. The Project demands that faith-based adoption and foster care institutions be able to deny a child a home if the home doesn’t meet with their religious tenets.  

While not all aspects of the desire to infuse far-right interpretations of Christianity are apparent in the wording of Project 2025, they are abundantly clear in the missions and activities of many of the advisory board and the Project leader, Heritage Foundation. Examples include The American Conservative advocating for Christian conversion therapy counseling claiming that a law protecting young people from harmful conversion therapy infringes upon their free speech, the California Family Council whose mission and vision are, “Advancing God’s Design for Life, Family, & Liberty through California’s Church, Capitol, & Culture” and “God’s people living as principled citizens of both heaven and earth: Biblically Faithful, Civically Responsible, Culturally Impactful”, and the Eagle Forum which seeks “to define and defend more effectively the Judeo-Christian worldview of the U.S. Constitution and legal system in today’s Culture War” and refers to supporting LGBTQ+ rights as a religion in itself.

Gutting The Civil Service

One of the Project’s key efforts is to replace as many civil service employees as possible with conservative partisans, and materials indicate that they are already identifying and training those people. The Project portrays the federal bureaucracy as an enemy and part of a “woke” Deep State, working in secret to undermine efforts to install conservative principles in the U.S. For Project 2025’s collective thinking, electoral results favoring the right are systematically undermined by this nefarious cabal. This is particularly the case, the Project alleges, because career staff are often hired due to “membership in certain ideologically aligned groups or based on illegal considerations such as race, religion, or sex,” as opposed to merit and aptitude.

The plan isn’t just to stack the civil service with those who support the far-right agenda; much of Project 2025 is dedicated to eviscerating departments and agencies, essentially gutting the federal government, and investing nearly unfettered power over the executive branch, including the Department of Justice and FBI, in the presidency.

The plan is to assemble “thousands of properly vetted and trained personnel from across the country who will be ready on January 20, 2025, to begin dismantling our unaccountable fourth branch of government, the administrative state.” The end goal is to “gut the federal bureaucracy” and “fight the Deep State,” the latter being a reference to popular right-wing conspiracies that there is a clandestine network of members of the federal government, particularly in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), working to thwart the conservative movement’s goals (versions of this conspiracy theory have existed for decades). Trump popularized this idea, alleging that the federal staffers were literally working to destroy him, and it is a central aspect of other conspiracies such as QAnon, which Trump openly embraced. Trump’s conspiracist talk has had an effect; more than one in three Americans have come to believe the deep state really was undermining Trump.

Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, where the project’s plans are laid out in detail, explains how to gut the civil service. It features sections on “how to fire supposedly ‘un-fireable’ federal bureaucrats; how to shutter ‘wasteful and corrupt bureaus and offices’; how to muzzle woke propaganda at every level of government; how to restore the American people’s constitutional authority over the Administrative State; and how to save untold taxpayer dollars in the process.” It proposes that any employee that has been involved in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and did not object “on constitutional or moral grounds” should be subject to “per se grounds for termination of employment.”

The Project lays out what it calls the “the specific deficiencies of the federal bureaucracy,” meaning its size, levels of organization, inefficiency, expense, and lack of responsiveness to political appointees. It claims that this Deep State is far too influenced by “the progressive ideology that unelected experts can and should be trusted to promote the general welfare in just about every area of social life.” Thus an essential reordering is required to conform with the Project’s far-right principles. 

The kinds of people Project 2025 is looking to install in the civil service becomes clear in the project’s personnel questionnaire. The application is prefaced, “With the right conservative policy recommendations and properly vetted and trained personnel to implement them, we will take back our government.” For the most part, the survey is filled with leading questions that would clearly screen in candidates who are far right, anti-LGBTQ+, and against international institutions. Some of the questions applicants are asked to agree or disagree with include: “The federal government should recognize only two unchanging sexes, male and female, as a matter of policy,” “The U.N. should have authority over the citizens or public policies of sovereign nations,” “The President should be able to advance his/her agenda through the bureaucracy without hindrance from unelected federal officials,” “The police in America are systemically racist,” and “The permanent institutions of family and religion are foundational to American freedom and the common good.”

Project 2025 is already training, though an academy, “aspiring appointees with the insight, background knowledge, and expertise in governance to immediately begin rolling back destructive policy and advancing conservative ideas in the federal government.” They will be armed with knowledge for “recognizing and addressing the dangers of the administrative state.”

Ending Racial Equity Efforts

A particular target of Project 2025 are efforts to improve racial equity, especially through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. The Project views these efforts as hostile attacks, as “affirmative discrimination,” alleging that DEI efforts “have become the vehicles for this unlawful discrimination, and all departments and agencies have created ‘equity’ plans to carry out these invidious schemes.” Delving further, the Project views DEI efforts as part of a “managerialist left-wing race and gender ideology, [where] every aspect of labor policy became a vehicle with which to advance race, sex, and other classifications and discriminate against conservative and religious viewpoints on these subjects and others, including pro-life views.” In the upside down world of Project 2025, efforts to improve equity are actually a form of “racist policymaking” that must be “forcefully opposed and reversed.” Project 2025 generally sees ending DEI and equity programs as a way to stop “woke revolutionaries…who believe America is–and always has been–‘systematically racist’ and not worth celebrating.” They also frame these attacks as a way to return to “American ideals, American families, and American culture—all things in which, thankfully, most Americans still believe.”

There are multiple calls to undermine the “DEI agenda” by dismissing or barring any “implementers and grantees that engage in ideological agitation on behalf of the DEI agenda.” The Project would end efforts to improve racial equity, which it says the Biden administration “has pushed…in every area of our national life, including in employment, and has condoned the use of racial classifications and racial preferences under the guise of DEI and critical race theory, which categorizes individuals as oppressors and victims based on race.” The Project calls for an end to “Racial Classifications and Critical Race Theory (CRT) Trainings,” and advocates for an executive order that would ban CRT training, a new law barring the use of taxpayer dollars to fund CRT trainings, and the elimination of all Equal Employment Opportunity data collection, which is used to assess the diversity of the workforce. 

The Project advocates that the next Administration “should take affirmative steps to expose and eradicate the practice of critical race theory and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the Treasury Department,” and all other departments. The plan further wants the Department of Education to end “anti-American ahistorical propaganda into America’s classrooms.” And for those who might persist in DEI efforts, it calls for termination of their employment.

Eviscerating LGBTQ+ Rights and Equality

Under the banner of “Restoring the Family,” Project 2025 aims to gut protections for the LGBTQ+ community, which is negatively contrasted with the “traditional American family” and whose civil rights are seen as opposed to the Project’s religious tenets. The Project would privilege “family authority, formation, and cohesion as their top priority and even use government power, including the tax code” to favor traditional families. The project says, “Families comprised of a married mother, father, and their children are the foundation of a well-ordered nation and healthy society. Unfortunately, family policies and programs under President Biden’s HHS are fraught with agenda items focusing on ‘LGBTQ+ equity,’ subsidizing single-motherhood, disincentivizing work, and penalizing marriage. These policies should be repealed and replaced by policies that support the formation of stable, married, nuclear families.” The Project claims falsely that only heterosexual, two-parent families are safe for children, and that “All other family forms involve higher levels of instability (the average length of same-sex marriages is half that of heterosexual marriages); financial stress or poverty; and poor behavioral, psychological, or educational outcomes.” (Their data on the length of marriages is false).

The plan calls on the next president to “make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors.” To do so, it advocates “deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (‘SOGI’), diversity, equity, and inclusion (‘DEI’), gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.” And it calls for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) “antidiscrimination policy statements” to “never conflate sex with gender identity or sexual orientation.” It demands changes to Title VII, calling for a restriction of Bostock’s [Bostock v. Clayton County] “application of sex discrimination protections to sexual orientation and transgender status in the context of hiring and firing” and to rescind “regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, and sex characteristics.” Sex discrimination should be restricted to a “biological binary meaning.” Further, it calls on the HHS secretary to “proudly state that men and women are biological realities that are crucial to the advancement of life sciences and medical care and that married men and women are the ideal, natural family structure because all children have a right to be raised by the men and women who conceived them.”

The Project dehumanizes the transgender community by making unfounded, hyperbolic claims that “children suffer the toxic normalization of transgenderism with drag queens and pornography invading their school libraries,” repeatedly linking transgender people to pornography, writing, “Pornography, manifested today in the omnipresent propagation of transgender ideology and sexualization of children, for instance, is not a political Gordian knot inextricably binding up disparate claims about free speech, property rights, sexual liberation, and child welfare.” At one point, the Project attacks the Department of Justice (DOJ) for undermin[ing] girls’ sports and caving on the issue to “satisfy transgender extremists.” The Project also likens gender-affirming healthcare to child abuse (this position is rejected by the medical establishment). It calls on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reissue a stronger transgender national coverage determination, which would restrict medical care for the community.

In pursuit of “promoting life and strengthening the family,” the Project would abolish the Gender Policy Council, which “would eliminate central promotion of abortion (‘health services’); comprehensive sexuality education (‘education’); and the new woke gender ideology, which has as a principal tenet ‘gender affirming care’ and ‘sex-change’ surgeries on minors.” Claiming the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has long “been at the forefront in pushing junk gender science,” a conservative HHS secretary should immediately put “an end to the department’s foray into woke transgender activism.” Instead, NIH should “fund studies into the short-term and long-term negative effects of cross-sex interventions, including ‘affirmation,’ puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries, and the likelihood of desistence [sic] if young people are given counseling that does not include medical or social interventions.” An emphasis must also be put on efforts “to affirm the role fathers play in the lives of their children” and “must teach fathers based on a biological and sociological understanding of what it means to be a father–not a gender neutral parent.” 

Finally, the Project calls for the Department of State to abandon pro-LGBTQ+ initiatives in Africa, where punishing laws against the community are being proposed or have been enacted, such as Uganda’s recent passage of a law that criminalizes same-sex conduct, including potentially the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Restricting Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

It is in the realm of women’s health that the Christian nationalist views of Project 2025’s creators come to full fruition.

It should not be surprising that such a far-right effort would unequivocally want to ban all abortions and restrict people’s bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The project reads, “The next conservative President should work with Congress to enact the most robust protections for the unborn that Congress will support while deploying existing federal powers to protect innocent life and vigorously complying with statutory bans on the federal funding of abortion.” But it goes farther than that, calling for a ban on “abortion pills” and tasks the Department of Justice (DOJ) to criminally prosecute providers and distributors of such medications. 

It claims the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has “failed to abide by its legal obligations to protect the health, safety, and welfare of girls and women. It never studied the safety of the drugs under the labeled conditions of use, ignored the potential impacts of the hormone-blocking regimen on the developing bodies of adolescent girls, disregarded the substantial evidence that chemical abortion drugs cause more complications than surgical abortions, and eliminated necessary safeguards for pregnant girls and women who undergo this dangerous drug regimen.” It would end Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood health services, remove abortion from healthcare plans, and transform the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into, “the Department of Life by explicitly rejecting the notion that abortion is health care.” HHS must “pursue a robust agenda to protect the fundamental right to life, protect conscience rights, and uphold bodily integrity rooted in biological realities, not ideology.” It contends that “abortion [is]… not healthcare,” and no federal agency should treat it as such. In addition, it calls for new legislation, the Protecting Life and Taxpayers Act, to “defund abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.” It would treat sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, “with a focus on strengthening marriage and sexual risk avoidance,” rather than medically advised treatments. And it calls on federal agencies to produce politicized “research” that backs the Project’s beliefs about the negative health effects of abortion (The American Psychological Association reports that scientific research from around the world shows having an abortion is not linked to mental health issues but restricting access to the procedure is).  

The Project would force all Americans, in contrast with the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe that left abortion policy to the states, to abide by the wishes of those Americans for whom abortion “violates the conscience and religious freedom rights.” The project would ban “abortion travel funding” for all Americans, and overturn Biden’s executive order that allows the HHS Secretary to “use his authority under Section 1115 to waive certain provisions of the law in order to use taxpayer funds to achieve the Administration’s goal of helping women to travel out of state to obtain abortions.” It claims that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (DOJ OLC) issued a politicized legal opinion declaring Biden’s order is not in conflict with the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion services but does not restrict states from doing so. 

It calls on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to eliminate projects that “do not respect human life and conscience rights and that undermine family formation.” The CDC should back studies “into the risks and complications of abortion and ensure that it corrects and does not promote misinformation regarding the comparative health and psychological benefits of childbirth versus the health and psychological risk of intentionally taking a human life through abortion.” It also tasks the CDC with collecting data from states used for “abortion tourism,” and data on medical outcomes related to abortion. And the Office of Refugee Resettlement is accused of “transporting [pregnant] minors across state lines from pro-life states to abortion-friendly states” apparently “to be victimized by the abortion industry.”

Finally, the project actually attacks contraception in many different ways, pushing for example to eliminate the morning after pill, and suggests instead that, “fertility awareness–based methods of family planning [the rhythm method, which is much less effective than birth control] are part of women’s preventive services under the ACA [Affordable Care Act].” In sum, the Project would restrict as much as is possible any access to services it views as related to abortion, even contraception if necessary, even in those states that have elected to keep the procedure legal.

Hardline Immigration Policies

One of the pillars of Project 2025 is “Defend Our Borders,” and it demonizes immigrants as a crime-ridden plague. The Project writes, “Thousands of illegal aliens are allowed to bond out of immigration detention only to disappear into the interior of the United States where many commit crimes.” It proposes incredibly harsh immigration policies, including tent cities and restricting asylum for those fleeing gang violence and domestic violence. It would dismantle the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and place all immigration-related activities across the administration in one agency. Eliminating DHS wouldn’t just address its perceived immigration failures, but also would eliminate the problem of  DHS being affected by “the Left’s wokeness and weaponization against Americans whom the Left perceives as its political opponents.” While not spelled out, this is likely a repudiation of DHS’s work against far-right domestic terrorists, largely white supremacists and antigovernment militias, whom the FBI and most federal agencies have determined are the top threat for domestic terrorism in the U.S. The call to shutter the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, which the Project describes as having been “weaponized for domestic political purposes” supports that conjecture, as that is where monitoring of far-right domestic extremist threats lives in DHS.

Project 2025 wants to restrict asylum, end “chain migration,” and authorize state and local law enforcement to participate in immigration and border security. They characterize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as “help[ing] migrants criminally enter our country with impunity.” The plan would expand U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, create a “single nationwide detention standard,” and draw local police forces into the immigration system, which weakens trust between law enforcement and communities. The project advocates for “the flexibility to use large numbers of temporary facilities such as tents” to house migrants and the restriction of T visas, given to the victims of human trafficking, and U visas, meant to help crime victims suffering from mental or physical abuse, asserting that, “Victimization should not be a basis for an immigration benefit.” Asylum would become harder, and sanctuary cities banned. 

Additional agencies, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), would be made to assist DHS in enforcing immigration policies and shutting down “sanctuary” jurisdictions. The Project would also reorder the bureaucratic design of certain immigration departments, moving the Office of Refugee Resettlement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to DHS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review from DOJ to DHS, in addition to consolidating departments related to immigration in DHS into one entity. The project alleges that “HHS and ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) have forgotten their original refugee-resettlement mission and instead have provided a panoply of free programs that incentivize people to come to the U.S. illegally.”

The Project also proposes to use the military in border protection operations, meaning it would militarize the border, and to assist in expanding the border wall.

Ending Climate Change Efforts and Restricting Environment Policies

Project 2025 would end programs to address climate change, which it calls “climate fanaticism,” and many other environmental protection efforts.

It describes the Biden administration as following a “radical climate policy” and is particularly angered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) declaring itself a “climate agency.” It describes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a “‘coercive’ agency, full of embedded activists.” In the world of Project 2025, environmental protections actually hurt the “aged, poor, and vulnerable” and environmentalism has become a “pseudo-religion meant to baptize liberals’ ruthless pursuit of absolute power in the holy water of environmental virtue. At its very heart, environmental extremism is decidedly anti-human.” The Project even recommends ending such things as efficiency standards for appliances. It views the Biden administration as “Mischaracterizing the state of our environment generally and the actual harms reasonably attributable to climate change specifically is a favored tool that the Left uses to scare the American public into accepting their ineffective, liberty-crushing regulations, diminished private property rights, and exorbitant costs.” This hysterical language is perhaps not surprising as Project supporters include many climate change deniers and others suspicious of efforts to advance clean energy policies and protect the environment. 

Clean energy policies are a particular bugaboo. The government should stop any policy making that gets in the way of “private-sector energy innovation” and the EPA must stop “strangle[ing] domestic energy production.” Initiatives like the Climate Hub Office would be shuttered and any international climate change agreements, such as the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change would be abandoned. The Department of Energy (DOE) should end the “unprovoked war on fossil fuels, restore America’s energy independence, oppose eyesore windmills built at taxpayer expense, and respect the right of Americans to buy and drive cars of their own choosing, rather than trying to force them into electric vehicles and eventually out of the driver’s seat altogether in favor of self-driving robots.” A reform of the Department of the Interior would remove protections for endangered species, open up many areas to oil, gas, and coal development, and abandon protections for federally-owned lands. The Project also advises repeatedly that there be no government role in promoting “environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives,” objectives many corporations and investors adopt to help them effectively manage their impact on the environment and society.

The Project is particularly concerned about USAID’s efforts to address climate change. It advocates rescinding “all climate policies from its foreign aid programs (specifically USAID’s Climate Strategy 2022–2030); shut down the agency’s offices, programs, and directives designed to advance the Paris Climate Agreement; and narrowly limit funding to traditional climate mitigation efforts.” And USAID must “cease collaborating with and funding progressive foundations, corporations, international institutions, and NGOs that advocate on behalf of climate fanaticism.”

Ending “Woke” Military Policies

Project 2025 presents the Pentagon as one of the most “woke” parts of the federal government, a “deeply troubled institution” that has allegedly abandoned its warfighting mission for Marxism. Project 2025 claims that the Pentagon is teaching “white privilege” and has “emphasized leftist politics over military readiness,” and needs to “Eliminate Marxist indoctrination and divisive critical race theory programs and abolish newly established diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and staff.” The Heritage Foundation, principle driver of the Project, describes cultural Marxism as, “[American Marxists] cloak their goals under the pretense of social justice, they now seek to dismantle the foundations of the American republic by rewriting history; reintroducing racism; creating privileged classes; and determining what can be said in public discourse, the military, and houses of worship. Unless Marxist thought is defeated again, today’s cultural Marxists will achieve what the Soviet Union never could: the subjugation of the United States to a totalitarian, soul-destroying ideology.“ The Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory was originally developed by white supremacists and antisemites, but has increasingly been accepted by the far right.  Additionally, it calls for audits of “the course offerings at military academies to remove Marxist indoctrination.” (Many of these provisions are already included in the proposed and controversial U.S. House version of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which annually provides funding for our military and national security.  An NDAA has not passed as of early November 2023.)

The Project further asserts that Obama appointees rule the roost in the officers corps thus corrupting the organization and pushing this Marxist agenda, and a fundamental transformation is needed to “prioritize the core roles and responsibilities of the military over social engineering and non-defense related matters, including climate change, critical race theory, manufactured extremism, and other polarizing policies that weaken our armed forces and discourage our nation’s finest men and women from enlisting.” It demands that the next president “end the Left’s social experimentation with the military, restore warfighting as its sole mission, and set defeating the threat of the Chinese Communist Party as its highest priority.”

It is particularly troubling that the Project attacks “manufactured extremism.” Both active duty soldiers and veterans have been key actors in white supremacist and antigovernment domestic terrorism in the United States and in events like the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Conservatives have already hampered the efforts to confront extremism that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin began after January 6, and the 2024 National Defence Authorization Act has been stripped of initiatives  to counter extremism, which Republican elected officials have alleged defame the Armed Forces and hurt recruitment. Abandoning the effort against extremists in the military is certain to make Americans less safe.

The Project would also reverse policies that allow transgender people to serve in the Armed Forces. It would expel “those with gender dysphoria,” likely referring to transgender individuals, and reverse “policies that allow transgender individuals to serve in the military.” It claims that “gender dysphoria” is incompatible with military service, and that “the use of public monies for transgender surgeries or to facilitate abortion for service members should be ended.” It also obsesses over the idea that mask-mandates and mandatory vaccines have somehow weakened the Armed Forces, even though the requirement to be vaccinated against Covid has been dropped.

“Reforming” Public Education

A big part of Project 2025 is changing the nature of America’s public education system to remove elements from the curriculum that are seen as too “woke” and supposedly “inject racist, anti-American, ahistorical propaganda into America’s classrooms.” The Project characterizes public schools as poisoning and indoctrinating children with leftist ideologies and undermining parents’ role in their children’s education, and advocates for private schooling (often religious) paid for by public monies. It would close the Department of Education (DOE), which it calls a “one-stop shop for the woke education cartel,” and return all responsibility for education to the states.

The Project wants to reform public school curriculum to remove “noxious tenets of ‘critical race theory’ and gender ideology,’” which it claims “poison” our children. It sees public schools as responsive to “leftists advocates intent on indoctrination,” rather than parents. The plan would also radically alter public schooling by instituting universal school choice and subsidizing private school attendance, including for religious schools. It views the Department of Education (DOE) as “not particularly concerned with children’s education.” DOE is viewed as “an example of federal intrusion into a traditionally state and local realm,” which should be shuttered. If that can’t be accomplished, the secretary of education “should insist that the department serve parents and American ideals, not advocates whose message is that children can choose their own sex, that America is ‘systemically racist,’ that math itself is racist, and that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideal of a colorblind society should be rejected in favor of reinstating a color-conscious society.”

The Project writes, “enforcement of civil rights should be based on a proper understanding of those laws, rejecting gender ideology and critical race theory” and ensuring that Title IX is enforced using “biological sex recognized at birth.” It attacks Critical Race theory (CRT) as a particular danger, arguing that in its “applied” dimension, supporters “believe that racism (in this case, treating individuals differently based on race) is appropriate—necessary, even—making the theory more than merely an analytical tool to describe race in public and private life.” It undermines “America’s Founding ideals of freedom and opportunity” and when used in schools leads to “mandatory affinity groups, teacher training programs in which educators are required to confess their privilege, or school assignments in which students must defend the false idea that America is systemically racist,” all supposedly “disrupting the values that hold communities together such as equality under the law and colorblindness.” In addition to CRT, “radical gender ideology” must be shown to have a “devastating effect on school-aged children today—especially young girls.” Names and pronouns must be based on birth certificates and no education employee or contractor should be “forced” to use a pronoun that doesn’t match the person’s biological sex, as that would be against their religious or moral convictions.

Restricting Human Rights and Exiting International Bodies

Project 2025 takes great issue with current human rights frameworks and would withdraw from the United Nations and other international bodies. It claims that international organizations are “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.’” It wants to 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,” as conceptualized in the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Women’s Health and Protection of the Family, which was spearheaded by Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

The Geneva Consensus is not a U.N. document and has no international legal standing, but rather was forged between primarily authoritarian states that seek to undermine sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular access to safe abortion services, worldwide, and restrict the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Amnesty International USA said the signatories were “willingly endangering people’s health and lives” and others accused the signatories of being motivated by a desire to undermine established international institutions and undermine women’s rights. The text’s language affirming the family as “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” has clear meaning for countries that restrict LGBTQ+ rights, many of whom signed on to the declaration including Egypt, Hungary and Uganda. For the Project, the Geneva Consensus should guide all U.S. foreign policy engagements, and the government “should not and cannot promote or fund abortion in international programs or multilateral organizations.”

A large section of the Project targets the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as no longer supporting “pro-life” and “family-friendly policies” and undermining the Project’s view of “religious freedom.” The agency would be completely overhauled to abandon its current “divisive political and cultural agenda that promotes abortion, climate extremism, gender radicalism, and interventions against perceived systemic racism.” The agency needs to be “deradicalized,” cancel all DEI efforts, eliminate the Chief Diversity Officer position and “issue a directive to cease promotion of the DEI agenda, including the bullying LGBTQ+ agenda.” It intends to rename USAID offices related to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to appoint to the position of Senior Gender Coordinator an “unapologetically pro-life,” renaming the post as “Senior Coordinator of the Office of Women, Children, and Families;” and eliminate the “more than 180 gender advisors and points of contact…embedded in Missions and Operating should remove all references, examples, definitions, photos, and language on USAID websites, in agency publications and policies, and in all agency contracts and grants that include the following terms: ‘gender,’ ‘gender equality,’ ‘gender equity,’ ‘gender diverse individuals,’ ‘gender aware,’ ‘gender sensitive,’ etc.” And also remove all references to “‘abortion,’ ‘reproductive health,’ and ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ and controversial sexual education materials.” This effort will end “the promotion of gender radicalism” which allegedly causes resentment by tying lifesaving assistance to “rejecting the aid recipient’s own firmly held fundamental values regarding sexuality, and produces unnecessary consternation and confusion among and even outright bias against men.” USAID must stop U.S. foreign aid from “supporting the global abortion industry.” 

Other international organizations the Project suggests the U.S. resign from include the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Profiles of Project 2025 Organizational Supporters

The far-right think tank Heritage Foundation is coordinating many elements of Project 2025 and hosting the website and materials, including the 900-page Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, which describes in depth their plans for reforming the next presidential administration. The project is led by Heritage’s Director Paul Dans and Associate Director Spencer Chretien, both former Trump administration officials.

To advise on, and push the Project 2025 agenda, Heritage has assembled a coalition of more than 80 (and growing) far-right groups involved in everything from spreading hatred against LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants, Muslims, and people of color to propagating medical disinformation, climate change denial, election denial, and rejecting women’s bodily autonomy.

In recent years, the Heritage Foundation has moved further and further to the right, leaving its Reaganite history behind during the Trump years for more radical politics. At least 66 current employees and alumni served in Trump’s  administration. An example of this increasing extremism is Heritage’s attack on the Black Lives Matter movement, with senior fellow Mike Gonzalez releasing in 2021 BLM: The New Making of a Marxist Revolution. A press release for the book asserts that BLM leaders are “avowed Marxists who say they want to dismantle our way of life…they seized upon the video showing George Floyd‘s suffering as a pretext to unleash a nationwide insurgency.” 

In 2021, Heritage pushed Republican-controlled states to ban or restrict critical race theory, something not taught in public schools, and sought to persuade congressional Republicans to put anti-critical race theory provisions into legislation such as the annual defense spending bill. The proposed 2023 defense spending bill included these provisions, along with a reduction of LGBTQ+ rights and women’s healthcare. A final bill has not been passed as of November 2023. Heritage has fiercely opposed transgender rights, including hosting several anti-trans events, developing and supporting model legislation against transgender rights, and made claims about transgender youth healthcare and suicide rates contradicted by numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies. Heritage is a climate denier. 

Heritage has also promoted false claims of electoral fraud. Hans von Spakovsky, who heads its Election Law Reform Initiative, has long spread alarmism about voter fraud, for which there is little to no evidence, among conservatives. His work, which claims voting fraud is rampant, has been discredited. In 2021, Heritage Action ran television ads in Arizona to promote the false claim that “Democrats…want to register illegal aliens” to vote.

The American Center for Law and Justice Action (ACLJA): ACLJA is the c4 arm of the American Center for Law and Justice, an anti-LGBTQ+ group run by longtime Trump attorney Jay Sekulow that was originally founded by Pat Robertson, one of the founders of America’s Christian Right. The ACLJ promotes conservative Christian laws in Africa, including support in Uganda for criminalizing homosexuality. It is also anti-Muslim. In November 2010, the ACLJ asked that the Department of Justice investigate the Congressional Muslim Staffer Association’s weekly prayer session on Capitol Hill, alleging that the organization demonstrated “a pattern of inviting Islamic extremists with ties to terrorism to participate in these events.” ACLJ also attempted to stop the construction of an Islamic cultural center near the former site of the World Trade Center, by appealing to New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF): ADF has long worked to restrict LGBTQ+ rights both domestically and abroad through ADF International. Launched in 1994 by 35 Christian Right leaders, ADF has worked for decades to undermine the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community. It has pushed to eliminate access to contraception and abortion, advocated for the criminalization of sexual acts among consenting LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. and abroad, pushed conspiracies about a “homosexual agenda” destroying societies, falsely argued that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be pedophiles, worked to deny rights to transgender people, developed model legislation to allow the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ+ people under the guise of “religious freedom,” and lobbied for the appointment of judges to uphold its agenda. ADF is listed as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its former CEO, Michael P. Farris, a Trump ally, was instrumental in crafting an effort to overturn the American 2020 presidential election. ADF has been unusually successful in its legal efforts, bringing cases to the Supreme Court that have overturned LGBTQ+ rights and abortion protections. ADF is currently awaiting a Supreme Court decision on its appeal of a federal court ruling upholding state level bans on conversion therapy for minors. ADF represented a Tennessee Christian adoption agency that refused services to a Jewish couple, sparking outrage from the faith community, who in a letter wrote, “Alliance Defending Freedom is parading itself as a ‘Christian’ organization while coming into our local communities spreading messages of hate and division. They’ve gone so far as to deny a child two loving parents due to their Jewish faith. As faith leaders, we must speak in one voice condemning groups seeking to distort Holy Scriptures and to justify an agenda that brings harm to our communities and contradicts God’s commandments to love one another. This is a distortion and corruption of the Christian faith.” A 2014 post on its website read, “Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries,” indicating it would like to go back to medieval times. 

American Family Association (AFA): The AFA’s stated vision “is to be a leading organization in biblical worldview training for cultural transformation” and among its core values is the belief that “true morality flows from biblical principles and directs people to the manner in which God intends them to live.” AFA has advocated strongly against LGBTQ+ rights, same-sex marriage, and allowing members of the LGBTQ+ community to serve in the Armed Forces. The group frequently equates homosexuality with pedophilia and argues that there’s a “homosexual agenda” afoot that is set to bring about the downfall of American (and ultimately, Western) civilization. In one October 2004 article, the AFA Journal suggested that gay influences are leading to a “grotesque culture” that will include “quick encounters in the middle school boys’ restroom.” Its principals over the years have made many disparaging remarks about the LGBTQ+ community, such as Bryan Fischer’s 2010 comment that, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” They are also rabidly anti-Muslim with AFA leader Tim Wildmon writing in 2012 that “[Islam] is, in fact, a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims,” having also advocated against Muslim immigration to the US. The AFA is listed as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

America First Legal (AFL):  AFL was founded in 2020 by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller, who crafted many of the administration’s punishing anti-immigrant policies, including child separations from their immigrant parents. Miller has a long track record of interacting with white nationalists, and spreading their views. AFL’s tagline is “fighting the lawless left” and it has brought dozens of federal lawsuits challenging efforts to remedy racial disparities, support LGBTQ+ students, and to expand early voting.

The American Conservative (TAC): Co-founded in 2002 by Pat Buchanan, author of rabidly anti-immigrant screeds rooted in white nationalism, TAC features articles that are associated with the very far-right paleoconservative movement. In October 2023, TAC published a piece defending “conversion therapy,” the dangerous and discredited practice of trying to change LGBTQ+ people’s sexual orientation. It has also published rabidly anti-trans pieces. Historically, the magazine has been hardline on immigration and isolationist, and was touting the America First agenda long before Trump did. Some of TAC’s writers are or have been fellows at the pro-Victor Orbán Danube Institute, funded by the Hungarian government, which the European Parliament has declared is no longer a democracy. The president of the Heritage Foundation, Kevin Roberts, spoke at TAC’s October 2023 Annual Gala.

The American Principles Project (APP): An anti-LGBTQ+ organization, APP has funded political campaign ads that reflect the organization’s opposition to civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people. The group opposed same-sex marriage and is particularly focused on anti-transgender legislation. In 2017, APP ran anti-transgender robocalls in a district where the democratic candidate was a transgender woman. In 2021, APP’s head Terry Schilling co-authored a USA TODAY Op-Ed criticizing the proposed Equality Act, that would expand civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community, arguing that transgender women should not compete in women’s sports. APP wants to eliminate transgender health care completely for both children and adults. APP was also active in the campaign against teaching critical race theory in schools. They also advocate for the use of a gold standard instead of paper currency, a position mostly held by antigovernment extremists.

Center for Family and Human Rights (CFAM): CFAM is led by Austin Ruse, who has railed against abortion and voiced support for laws criminalizing homosexuality. Ruse supported Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law (which criminalizes free speech with regard to LGBTQ issues) and called the law a noble quest for “human rights,” signing a joint statement in support of it. CFAM is listed as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has had its share of scandals. In 2015, Monsignor Anthony Frontiero resigned from the organization’s board of directors in protest when Ruse commented, “The hard-left human-hating people that run modern universities should be taken out and shot.” He was speaking about a female student at Duke University who works as an actress in the pornography industry. Ruse blamed Duke’s women’s studies department, claiming that the student “learned this” there. Ruse said this was a figure of speech and issued a formal apology. CFAM has consultative status at the U.N. Ruse and CFAM have been lobbying against sexual and reproductive health rights, abortion, and equality for LGBTQ+ people at the UN and abroad for years. In 2012, Ruse and CFAM even helped block a UN treaty protecting the rights of people with disabilities because, the groups claimed, it was “pro-abortion.” 

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS): CIS was founded by historian Otis L. Graham and eugenicist and white nationalist John Tanton in 1985 as a spin-off of the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform. Reports published by CIS have been disputed by scholars on immigration, fact-checkers and news outlets, and immigration-research organizations. The organization had significant influence within the Trump administration, and its proposed policies were the inspiration for the Muslim immigration ban. CIS has repeatedly published white nationalist and antisemitic writers, employed an analyst known to promote racist pseudoscience, and published reports that hyped the criminality of immigrants. CIS is listed as an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its principals have often made bigoted statements about Muslims and immigrants. In 2014, CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian said on a radio show, “We have to have security against both the dishwasher and the terrorist because you can’t distinguish between the two with regards to immigration control.” In 2010, he wrote, “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.” In 2015, he decried the EU’s immigration policies, saying they would lead to a scenario like that portrayed in the horrifically racist novel, The Camp of the Saints, where immigrants are depicted engaging in a murderous, violent spree across France. The novel, extremely popular among white nationalists, was published in the U.S. by CIS founder John Tanton.

The Claremont Institute (TCI): In recent years, TCI has had on staff one of the key election deniers advising Trump in 2020. Institute Senior Fellow John Eastman aided Trump in his failed attempts to overturn the election results and has now been criminally indicted in Georgia for his efforts. The Institute caused controversy by granting a fellowship in 2019 to Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. In 2020, Slate described TCI as “a racist fever swamp with deep connections to the conspiratorial alt-right,” citing Posobiec’s fellowship and the publication of a 2020 essay by Eastman that questioned Kamala Harriseligibility for the vice presidency. In 2022, their publication The American Mind featured an editorial by Raw Egg Nationalist, an author affiliated with the neo-Nazi publishing house Antelope Hill. In 2021, Claremont Senior Fellow Glenn Ellmers wrote an essay in The American Mind arguing that the United States had been destroyed by internal enemies and that a “counter-revolution” was necessary to defeat the majority of the people who “can no longer be considered fellow citizens.” According to Ellmers, “Most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term.”

Concerned Women for America (CWA): Founded in 1979, CWA was launched by conservative Christian activist and author Beverly LaHaye as a counter to the National Organization for Women and the Equal Rights Amendment. It is anti-feminist, Christian nationalist, a defender of traditional gender roles, and tightly tied to attacks on the LGBTQ+ community coming from the far right, featuring articles against drag shows and Pride events on its website. The group claimed in October 2023 to have 500,000 members and more than 400 chapters. LaHaye was married to the late minister Tim LaHaye, author of the bestselling Left Behind fiction series adapted from the Book of Revelations and depicting the end times. She was also a co-founder of the highly influential far-right and secretive Council for National Policy, of which CWA’s current CEO Penny Nance is a member. Nance states in her bio that she served on Trump’s Life Advisory Council. According to her biography, LaHaye founded CWA, to “promote Biblical values for women and families, first through prayer, then education and finally, by influencing our elected leaders and society.” The group moved from San Diego to Washington, D.C. in 1987, giving it greater access to the federal government. Most of its focus has been on outlawing abortion, promoting traditional families, condemning pornography, working to remove sex education from schools, rallying against same-sex marriage, arguing for religious exemptions, national sovereignty, and against secular education. It has several state-level chapters. Over the years, CWA has employed anti-LGBTQ+ activists, including Peter LaBarbera, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated, anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Americans for Truth about Homosexuality and a reporter and editor for the conspiracy site WorldNetDaily; Robert Knight, one of the drafters of the federal Defense of Marriage Act; and Matt Barber, formerly with the anti-LGBTQ+ group Liberty Counsel and then the owner of the virulently anti-LGBTQ+ website barbwire.com, which is no longer active. LaHaye herself was rabidly homophobic, having published a booklet in 1991, The Hidden Homosexual Agenda, which warned that accepting LGBTQ+ equality would bring an end to Judeo-Christian values and destroy the family. She defamed LGBTQ+ people as having a “compulsive desire for sexual fulfillment without lasting commitment” and also claimed that they “recruit children.” A former senior fellow at CWA’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, Janice Shaw Crouse, claimed that LGBTQ+ people are prone to domestic violence, spreading disease, and that their relationships don’t last long. CWA opposed the Violence Against Women Act, claiming that it “creates new protections for homosexuals.” In order to receive federal grants, CWA said in 2012, “domestic violence organizations have to agree to embrace the homosexual agenda,” a conspiracy theory manufactured by the Christian Right in which they argue that LGBTQ+ people are going to destroy the family and society. CWA has also claimed that hate crimes are fabricated to undermine efforts supportive of hate crimes legislation, which CWA opposes. As of November 2023, CWA is running a pledge for presidential and down-ballot candidates to sign affirming that they will deny the rights and existence of transgender people.

Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI): Deep in the election denial movement, CPI is chaired by former South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint and has on its staff former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was indicted in Georgia on charges of attempting to subvert the 2020 election results. In advance of the 2022 midterms, the network published materials and hosted summits across the country with the aim of coordinating a nationwide effort to staff election offices, recruit poll watchers and poll workers, and build teams of local citizens to challenge voter rolls, question postal workers, be “ever-present” in local election offices, and inundate election officials with document requests. The effort is an extraordinary investment in sustaining and bolstering the false narrative that Trump lost the 2020 election because of widespread voter fraud. CPI’s key “election integrity” staffer is Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who played a central role in Trump’s legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election. Mitchell participated in Trump’s infamous January 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where Trump attempted to coerce Raffensperger to “find” the extra 11,780 votes Trump needed to win the state. Mitchell filed a lawsuit to block a subpoena calling for her to testify in front of the House Select Committee probing the January 6 insurrection, as she was in contact with Trump that day. When reports of her role on Trump’s call with Raffensperger surfaced in 2021, Mitchell resigned from her two-decade long career with the law firm Foley & Lardner and joined CPI two months later. 

Family Research Council (FRC): Originally a part of the Christian Right powerhouse Focus on the Family, FRC, which is technically a church, has lobbied against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, divorce, and many LGBTQ+ rights, including anti-discrimination laws, civil unions, same-sex marriage and adoption. FRC is listed as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group has been condemned by professional organizations including the American Sociological Association for peddling “anti-gay pseudoscience” to falsely conflate homosexuality and pedophilia, and to falsely assert that the children of same-sex parents suffer from more mental health problems than those in traditional homes. FRC holds that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed” and that it is “by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects.” Contrary to all medical science, FRC also contends that “there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn.” In 2010, FRC spent $25,000 to lobby Congress against approving a resolution denouncing Uganda’s plan to execute those engaged in same-sex relations, “Res.1064 Ugandan Resolution Pro-homosexual promotion.” FRC claimed that they had not intended to kill the resolution, but rather to change it and “remove sweeping and inaccurate assertions that homosexual conduct is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right.” At the time Uganda was considering what came to be known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, which would have imposed either the death penalty or life imprisonment for sexual relations between persons of the same sex (Uganda passed such a bill in 2022). FRC has published many anti-transgender statements, and in 2022 said that leftists are “openly avowing pedophilia as the next ‘sexual minority’ (aka sexual perversion) to achieve legitimacy.” In 2001, FRC’s head Tony Perkins, standing in front of a confederate flag, gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group that advocates against miscegenation and whose website once referred to black people as “a retrograde species of humanity.”

The Heartland Institute (THI): A leading voice in the climate denial movement, THI once put up billboards in Chicago featuring a photo of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, whose mail bombs killed three people and injured 23 others, asking the question, “I still believe in global warming, do you?” They withdrew the billboards a day later but did not apologize for the campaign, which was also to feature Charles Manson, Fidel Castro, and Osama Bin Laden asking the same question. It has also been involved in efforts to deny the health effects of smoking, to repeal mandates on renewable energy, and to privatize education.

Moms for Liberty (MFL): Founded in 2021, MFL was listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an antigovernment group in 2023. According to the SPLC, MFL “use their multiple social media platforms to target teachers and school officials, advocate for the abolition of the Department of Education, advance conspiracy propaganda, and spread hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ community.” The group’s activism first centered on campaigning against pandemic measures in schools, including mask and vaccine mandates. In its short existence, MFL has also advocated against school curricula that mention LGBTQ+ rights, race and ethnicity, critical race theory, and discrimination. They have also called for banning certain books on these topics from school curricula and libraries and have disrupted school boards as part of their advocacy. The group has ties to other extremists including the white supremacist Proud Boys and the rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ group, Gays Against Groomers. 

Tea Party Patriots (TPP):  An election denial organization, TPP was heavily involved in the “Stop the Steal” movement that advocated Trump had the election stolen from him, and TPP leaders were outspoken after the 2020 election, claiming without evidence that there had been widespread fraud and that the election results should be overturned in favor of Trump. TPP got its start in 2009, as Tea Parties were popping up nationwide, organizing against the Affordable Care Act and other aspects of Obama’s presidency. It received considerable help from FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group once funded by the Koch brothers. After 2020, it took up issues around election infrastructure, recruiting poll workers, promoting propaganda like the film “2,000 Mules” that alleges the 2020 election was rigged, and supporting so-called “election integrity” efforts. Tea Party Patriots were among about a dozen groups that included Stop the Steal and Turning Point Action listed on the website of the “March to Save America,” the pro-Trump rally that took place before the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. In a statement, co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said her group did not fund the rally and denounced the violence that followed it. TPP has engaged in medical disinformation as well, hosting and funding an “America’s Frontline Doctors” event promoting use, contrary to all legitimate medical advice, of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID.

Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF): TPPF says its mission is to “promote liberty, opportunity, and free enterprise in Texas and beyond.” TPPF pushes stronger border measures and has co-produced a documentary called “Cartel Country” that blames the Biden administration for the border crisis. TPPF advocates putting parents in charge of their children’s education, generally rails against public education, rejects pandemic health measures, is against transgender healthcare for young people, and rejects carbon taxes. In 2021, the organization put out a now deleted tweet with an image labeled, “How to Identify Critical Race Theory in the Classroom.” Among the things identified were terms like “anti-racism,” programs that promote “equity, diversity, and inclusion,” movements like “Black lives matter;” and facts in American history including “colonialism” and “colonizer.” TPPF fellow, fellow Carol Swain, wrote a fawning book about white nationalists and claims Islam is dangerous.  In 2021, Swain at a TPPF event, spoke of how Critical Race Theory “threatens” the nation. “[CRT] has Marxist roots,” she said. “It’s un-American. It’s using the grievances and sufferings of people to advance an agenda that has very little to do about them…I believe that the ultimate goal is to destroy America.” Since Trump started spouting election lies, TPPF has become involved in the issue, and it lists securing the “integrity of election results” as one of its prime issues. In January 2021, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul and TPPF announced the formation of the Election Protection Project, which they claim is “an effort to bolster ballot integrity in the Lone Star State and nationwide.” The project aims “to ensure proper identification is provided for in-person and mail-voting, strengthening vote-by-mail security, encouraging a better path of communication between state and county officials and ensuring maintenance of voter rolls.” During the effort’s launch, TPPF’s Vice President of National Initiatives, Chuck DeVore, said, “How can we ensure that we minimize the number of people on the lists who are either deceased or who moved out of state? How can we ensure that the people on the list should be on the list — in other words — that they’re citizens and that they’re eligible to vote?”

Turning Point USA (TPUSA): Led by Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA has been described as the “MAGA youth wing” of the conservative movement. Kirk perennially stokes racial resentments and uses divisiveness to build his youth movement. There have been repeated associations with white nationalist and antisemitic actors, and TPUSA college chapters have been called out for their blatant racism. Typical was Kirk’s calling George Floyd a “scumbag” after his murder at the hands of police ignited racial justice rallies across the country in 2020. Kirk once vowed to never politicize his religion, but he now says the church should accept its rightful role as counselor to and moral authority of the government. Parroting the white supremacist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, Kirk also said “Biden intentionally let Afghanistan fall because he wants a couple hundred thousand more Ilhan Omars to come into America to change the body politic permanently.” Kirk has toured college campuses raging at schools that teach about racism. According to CNN, TPA paid Kimberly Guilfoyle $60,000 to introduce her fiancé, Donald Trump, Jr., in a speech lasting less than three minutes at the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. In July 2021, Turning Point Action hosted a “Rally to Save our Elections” in Phoenix where Trump spoke for almost two hours, repeating his false allegations of voter fraud. Arizona’s fake slate of electors included Tyler Bowyer, COO of Turning Point USA. Turning Point Action (TPA), the c4 arm of the group, has a sordid history in terms of its online activism. In September 2020, it was reported that TPA had paid young people in Arizona, some of them minors, to post Turning Point content on their social media accounts without disclosing their affiliation with Turning Point, and that Turning Point had given them specific instructions on how to make minor alterations to the content to prevent detection that it came from the same source. The posts cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process and made light of the pandemic.

Full List of Project 2025 Organizational Supporters

1792 Exchange

American Family Association

America First Legal

American Accountability Foundation

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists 

American Center for Law and Justice Action

American Conservative

Alabama Policy Institute

Alliance Defending Freedom

American Commitment

American Compass

American Cornerstone Institute

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Principles Project

American Juris Link

ALEC

American Main Street Initiative

American Moment

American Family Project

Americans United for Life

AMAC Action

California Family Council

Calvert Task Group

Centennial Institute

Center for a Secure Free Society

Center for Military Readiness

Center for Equal Opportunity

Center for Family and Human Rights

Center for Immigration Studies

Center for Renewing America

Claremont Institute

Concerned Women for America

Conservative Partnership Institute

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Coalition for a Prosperous America

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Defense of Freedom Institute

Discovery Institute

Dr. James Dobson Family Institute

Eagle Forum

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Fairer America

Family Policy Alliance

Family Research Council

Feds for Freedom

First Liberty Institute

For America

Forge Leadership Network

Foundation for American Innovation

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Foundation for Government Accountability

Freedom’s Journal Institute

Frederick Douglass Foundation 

FreedomWorks

Heartland Institute 

Heritage Foundation

Hillsdale College

Honest Elections Project

Independent Women’s Forum

Institute for Education Reform

Institute for Energy Research

Institute for the American Worker

Institute for Women’s Health

Intercollegiate Studies Institute

James Madison Institute

Job Creators Network

Keystone Policy

Leadership Institute

League of American Workers

Liberty University

MacArthur Society of West Point Graduates

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The Malone Institute

Media Research Center

Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Moms for Liberty

Mountain States Policy Center

National Association of Scholars

National Center for Public Policy Research

Native Americans for Sovereignty and Preservation

Noah Webster Educational Foundation

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

The Palm Beach Freedom Institute

Palmetto Promise

The Patriot Foundation Trust

Project 21 Black Leadership Network

Pacific Research Institute

Patrick Henry College

Personnel Policy Operations

Public Interest Legal Foundation

Recovery for American Now Foundation

Republicans Overseas Foundation

Stand Together Against Racism and Radicalism in the Services (STARRS)

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments

Students for Life of America

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America

Tea Party Patriots

Teneo Network

Texas Public Policy Foundation

The American Redistricting Project

Turning Point USA

Young America’s Foundation

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