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The Peculiar Passivity Toward Project 2025

Mandate for Leadership

How many rants have you read dissecting the Pope’s actions and predicting that he’s about to initiate the New World Order? How many times have you seen memes zeroing in on a celebrity’s hands “exposing” that they were covertly signaling allegiance to the Illuminati? Pizzagate? The “hoax” of COVID (one I find especially offensive since my father passed away from COVID)? Vaccines being microchips? Flat Earth? Hollow Earth? Everything Q-Anon promotes? Too many off-the-wall conspiracy theories inundate our social media feeds and conversations with relatives, friends, and church members. It’s maddening! Especially within a denomination that heavily focuses on prophecy and End Times, the environment is ripe for suspicion that every current event is the beginning of the end. But here’s the weird thing: those who are hyper-focused on uncovering “secret truths” that “no one else knows” have been oblivious to glaringly obvious present dangers.

Many Time of Trouble preppers anticipate the formation of an ecumenical system that will persecute the faithful and prevent them from buying and selling unless they submit to false worship. A main instrument toward this goal will supposedly be legislation mandating observance of the First Day as Sabbath instead of the Seventh. Religious liberty is huge for Adventists, not only because of the potential unfolding of future events, but because of the here-and-now desire to practice our faith freely. We devote significant funding to maintain religious liberty departments that fight for the rights of congregants around the world. As well we should. Whatever your beliefs about the last movements of Earth’s history, the fact remains that everyone, of every faith (or no faith at all), should be allowed to freely practice their religion (or lack thereof). That’s embedded in the very First Amendment of the United States; our denomination works hard to protect this principle in all nations, including those where such freedom is not enshrined in their constitutions.

That’s why I find it odd to see the relative apathy in the Adventist community about Project 2025—including among the conspiracy theorists! Obviously I don’t want to encourage their ways. Nevertheless, I’m perplexed as to why this hasn’t seemed to register on their radar. Despite this very real looming threat to religious freedom, the usual loud voices that fret over non-serious minutia appear uncharacteristically quiet. This is one topic that should unite us all in legitimate collective concern!

For the uninitiated, Project 2025 is an over 900-page manifesto, written by a cooperative of extreme conservative leaders, outlining how to dismantle and control the workings of the US government should the republican nominee win the presidency. This isn’t dramatic hyperbole. In its own words, the introduction on page xiv states: “Our goal is to assemble an army of aligned, vetted, trained, and prepared conservatives to go to work on Day One to deconstruct the Administrative State.” The entire thing reads like a radicalization/indoctrination handbook! Even secular outlets have recognized the “apocalyptic” language used throughout the book. The dictatorial themes are disconcerting. As the AP has noted, it “leans into what legal scholars refer to as a unitary view of executive power that suggests the president has broad authority to act alone.”  Members of conservative organizations like the American Enterprise Institute themselves acknowledge that the ideals of this treatise are excessive. One such individual, Philip Wallach, who studies the separation of powers in the U.S., remarked about Project 2025 saying: “Some of these visions, they do start to just bleed into some kind of authoritarian fantasies where the president won the election, so he’s in charge, so everyone has to do what he says—and that’s just not the system the government we live under.” John F. Kelly, Trump’s second White House chief of staff, called the plan “chaotic.”

Project 2025 is replete with problematic details, like Schedule F, which will convert nonpartisan jobs of expertise into positions subject to political appointment. That means specialists in scientific or technical agencies can be replaced at the pleasure of the president based, not on professional competence, but on party loyalty. Handpicking employees in key areas will ensure no one will contradict the president’s views; whatever agenda that’s implemented will be met with no resistance. Agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the federal department that tracks hurricanes), and the Department of Education, will simply be deleted. 

Among the other disturbing proposals (and what should be of significant interest to Adventists) are those dealing with religious conformity. Maybe some who identify as conservative have been lulled into indifference because right-wing leaders devised this blueprint. A number of conservatives may be dismissive of a warning that appears in Spectrum, since they regard it as a publication by progressive extremists (although, by design, Spectrum actually showcases a spectrum of views, but I digress …). However, one would be hard pressed to describe Liberty Magazine as a bastion of liberalism. And even they have published a recent editorial outlining dangers in Project 2025:

“Other commentators have already pointed to proposals in the document that would undermine both the spirit and letter of America’s constitutional regime, but let me highlight just one. Tucked away on page 589, in the section focused on reforming the Department of Labor, is a breathtaking proposal to use American laws to support religious doctrine. The section begins: “God ordained the Sabbath [Sunday] as a day of rest, and until very recently the Judeo-Christian tradition sought to honor that mandate by moral and legal regulation of work on that day.” This is followed by a few sentences on why a regular day off is beneficial, and then the proposal that “Congress should encourage communal rest by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require that workers be paid time and a half for hours worked on the Sabbath.” Here we glimpse a key assumption behind Project 2025: that America is first and foremost for those who embrace, not just Christianity, but the particular type of Christianity that prioritizes Sunday rest…we can and should condemn policy proposals that disregard our Constitution’s limits on governance, or which attempt to impose a religious orthodoxy or preference. And that’s the litmus test that Project 2025 fails, spectacularly.”

I’m not advocating for paranoia but for awareness. It’s silly to scour political speeches for coded messages yet ignore a tome boastfully calling itself a playbook for a government takeover and religious uniformity.

This is neither a joke nor a hoax. The first few pages list the main architects as authors and contributors (some names are familiar to our Church). They’ve publicly discussed the plan’s implementation. Yet folks aren’t taking notice. It would be like the Joker leaving a gift-wrapped, bound copy of “My Plan to Take Over Gotham City” on the porch of Wayne Manor and Batman stepping over it on his way out the door!

Perhaps that’s why Project 2025’s creators openly disseminated it. Police looking for speeders sometimes hide their cars behind something. Other times they “hide in plain sight.” Just how does that catch people? At times, speeders can be so focused on detecting obscured patrol cars that they become blind to ones in full view! Putting Project 2025 out in the open removes the mystery and eliminates curiosity about it. Conspiracy theorists don’t truly find their satisfaction in learning—it’s in “discovering” info other people don’t know. It’s exhilarating to be “in” on a secret! It’s validating to believe you’re smart enough to figure out what others couldn’t. Therefore, unconcealed things can become uninteresting and escape notice … even if they’re genuinely perilous.

Not all Adventists are habitual alarmists. In fact, there are some with the opposite proclivity: not taking current events seriously. “It’ll never happen!” Admittedly, it’s easy to become numb to the constant bombardment of false warnings. But this isn’t a drill: we’re already seeing policy makers successfully eroding the wall between church and state. On June 19, Louisiana’s governor signed a law requiring all classrooms to display the 10 Commandments. On June 27th the Oklahoma Department of Education declared that “Effective immediately, all Oklahoma schools are required to incorporate the Bible, which includes the Ten Commandments” for grades 5-12. Other states, including Texas, South Carolina, and Utah, are poised to follow suit. Yes, you may believe in the Bible, but whose interpretations will be taught by the State?

Readers outside the US: you should still take heed! In the not-so-distant past, the world witnessed the destruction that can be inflicted by a powerful country that believes in an authoritarian vision. And given the Supreme Court’s July 1 ruling that grants immunity for official presidential acts, totalitarianism is an actual possibility today. To be sure, religious repression exists in several nations already. But for better or worse, the US is a superpower. With the wrong people at the helm, it can wreak worldwide havoc. Let’s not be so hubristic to believe that the terrors of a few decades ago could never happen again.

I’m disappointed by the failure of our top denominational administrators to speak out about what’s developing right before our eyes. I’m surprised by the self-appointed religious watchdogs who seem to be snoozing on this. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. But in this narrative, the alarmists are both the boy and the villagers: they’ve become so disillusioned with their own fake warnings that they don’t believe the threat when it’s squarely in front of their faces.

If you believe in religious freedom, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, you should find Project 2025 horrifying. You don’t have to imagine that there is an “agenda” to demand conformity. There literally is an agenda! No speculation is necessary. And you don’t need an enigma machine to crack the code. It’s all clearly spelled out in no uncertain terms. If you think I’m just fearmongering, I invite you to read it here for yourself. In the words of LeVar Burton, you don’t have to take my word for it!

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Courtney Ray, MDiv, PhD, is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a clinical neuropsychologist. She is president of the Society for Black Neuropsychology.  More from Courtney Ray.
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