‘All Is Possible’: The Far-Right Plan to ‘Unwind’ the Separation of Church and State

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers is a Christian nationalist organization that seeks to “take authority” over every level of government across the nation and one day put one of its members in the White House.

Founded by zealously anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice former Arkansas state legislator Jason Rapert, the NACL regularly holds conferences at which Republican leaders, like House Speaker Mike Johnson, and religious-right activists plot strategy about how to enact their radical political agenda throughout the nation, largely through model legislation that is specifically designed to be taken back home by participating state legislators and turned into law.

Recently, the NACL held a National Policy Conference at Liberty University, during which participants discussed ways to take advantage of the far-right majority’s control of the Supreme Court to all but eliminate the separation of church and state.

Among the speakers urging aggressive action was Matt Krause, a radical former Texas state legislator and an attorney at First Liberty, a right-wing legal group that successfully argued the case of a former high school football coach who was fired for refusing to stop praying at midfield after games. Krause said that the Supreme Court’s decision in that case represented “a fundamental shift that is very much in favor for us,” and was every bit as significant as the decision striking down Roe v. Wade.

Krause said the right must now “go on offense” by placing Ten Commandments monuments outside government buildings and inside schools and requiring prayer before government and school board meetings.

“Why not go on offense and why not assert our rights, especially with this opportunity we’ve been given that we have not had in half a century?” Krause said, revealing that he’s been working with state legislators “to put Ten Commandments back up in the schoolhouse” and to enact policies requiring schools to allow students to leave during the day to “get religious instruction.”

“We think it’s a unique opportunity,” Krause added. “We’d love to come alongside each and every one of you in your states, if you have something that you want to do—whether at the state level or in your districts, at the county level, or city level—to restore faith in America. We haven’t had this opportunity since the 1970s; we want to use it to its fullest advantage while we have that opportunity.”

Following Krause’s presentation, he and his fellow panelists were questioned by Oregon state Rep. E. Werner Reschke, who serves as NACL’s state chair, about whether there might be “a way to go back and undo Abington School District v. Schempp,” a Supreme Court case from 1963 which declared that mandatory Bible reading in public schools was unconstitutional.

“You can look at that watershed moment in that case decision and look at America’s history from that point on, and how we became a secular society and how everything fell from there,” Reschke said, asking if there was anyway to get the Supreme Court to “undo” its ruling the Schempp case.

“Yeah,” replied Krause. “This is a place of hope because in a lot of other areas in our country, we feel like we’re losing battles; in the religious liberty, especially in the courts, we’re actually gaining ground all the time … I think now that this court has gone back to the history and tradition test, we can unwind a lot of those things that started in the 40s went to the 50s, 60s, 70s that kind of set up this wall of separation [as] we know it.”

“I think you can see a light at the end of that tunnel,” Krause assured the audience. “You just got to get the cases up there. It’s got to be the right ones with the right fact patterns, but with this court—especially with the tests that they’re promulgating—I absolutely think you can unwind that at some point.”

“With the history and traditions test, all is possible at this point,” agreed fellow panelist Richard Mast of Liberty Counsel. “All can be questioned based on this current court and this makeup, so I encourage legislators where you have the majority, be aggressive. … This new court and a return to a history and traditions test calls everything bad into question.”

Mast then encouraged the state legislators present to launch a blitz of right-wing church-state legislation to overwhelm the opposition.

“I cannot express enough how important it is to have concerted efforts around the country where you’re all running similar bills so they cannot using the Alinsky tactic of isolate, polarize, and destroy one individual crazy senator or representative,” he said, “You’ve got our side of the issue [creating] a diffuse target that they cannot laser in on and zero in on and it causes them to have to expend resources in a broad swath where we can push things through in one or two states and then advance these majority and historic and traditional positions.”

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