A conservative group is launching a new effort to create a “Big Family” lobby to pressure politicians to vote for families’ interests in Washington D.C. and across the country — the same way the National Rifle Association fights for gun owners.
The American Principles Project (APP) is launching an effort to get a million members and to form what it describes as “the NRA for families” with a recruitment push and a new ad campaign.
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Founder Terry Schilling told Fox News in an interview that, while there were plenty of family groups doing work on research, legislation and education, he saw a lack of a political arm “that would come in and kick the s— out of people when they hurt the family, and that’s what we wanted to change because that’s where the left was making so much progress.”
After a year that saw schools shuttered in many states for most of the year under pressure from powerful teachers unions, efforts to allow males to participate in girls sports if they identify as transgender and a fight over the teaching of the radical critical race theory in schools, issues related to the family and schools have energized many conservatives.
Schilling is looking to take that energy and turn it into a powerful political force.
“The NRA organizes gun owners in politics to help protect the Second Amendment; we want to organize families in politics to protect children, their education and their innocence and save the American family,” he said.
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He pointed to successes already conservative groups have had on issues like limiting women’s sports to females rather than those who identify as women. After that push last election cycle, which included a $7 million effort by the APP, a number of states have now introduced, passed, or signed into law bills on the issue.
Schilling says the group is focused on four issues in particular. The first is schools, including giving parents a choice about what school their kids go to and what they are learning.
Second are issues related to transgender rights, both in terms of keeping access to girl sports and bathrooms to those who are female, as well as more broadly as what he described as the “indoctrination of children into gender ideology” in the classroom.
The third is critical race theory, which Schilling said is “aimed at making our kids think in terms of race.” This comes amid a broad pushback by parents across the country against curriculums that feature the controversial and often-criticized 1619 project.
Finally, Schilling said a top issue for many parents is protecting kids online, particularly from pornography on the Internet.
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“Parents feel helpless when it comes to protecting their kids from porn online; there’s no meaningful age verification right now,” he said, pointing to polling that shows that such efforts have broad support across the country.
Notably, and unlike many family groups, the APP is not emphasizing a religious motivation – choosing instead to be a secular organization. Schilling said this is to reach a broader group of Americans and across demographic boundaries.
“We are deliberately choosing to be a secular, pro-family organization,” he said.
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Schilling argues that the left is winning issues not because they are more numerous – saying only a small minority support them – but because they are better organized, and if conservatives push back, then the radical left’s push on issues like critical race theory will end.
“There are over 130 million families in America. I don’t need all 130, I need a million, and if we get a million families involved and get them loud and active in the process, we will change things and change things fast, and they will start to retreat,” he said.
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