By Frederick Clarkson
Much has happened since RD broke the story last year of Project Blitz—a stealth state legislative campaign of the Christian right that framed much of their agenda in terms of religious freedom. Controversies over legislation based on model bills have broken out across the country on issues ranging from LGBTQ civil rights and discrimination in adoption and foster care, to abortion access, and teaching the Bible in public schools. The Christian nationalist intentions of Project Blitz have also received much attention, but a remarkable episode in Minnesota this past state legislative session may be a harbinger of a more profoundly theocratic politics on the horizon.
Earlier this year, Minnesota state Sen. John Marty was perplexed during a committee hearing. State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, the Republican chair of the Senate State Government Finance Committee, had proposed a $4 million cut in the budget for the Minnesota Historical Society that might have resulted in significant layoffs around the state. Asked by a Democratic senator why she proposed such a steep cut, Kiffmeyer said it was because of “controversy,” though she refused to say what the controversy consisted of.
Marty, following up on his colleague’s questioning, wondered aloud what it even meant to have “a secret controversy,” when one of Kiffmeyer’s Republican colleagues stepped in to explain that it was about, what he called “revisionist history” at the 200-year-old Historic Fort Snelling. There had been a flap over how the historical site had expanded its educational mission beyond the fort’s military history, to include the Dakota name for the area, Bdote, “with history spanning 10,000 years,” including “Native peoples, trade, soldiers and veterans, enslaved people, immigrants, and the changing landscape.” Some Republican legislators didn’t like it.
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