Here’s what the Christian right wants from a second Trump term

Donald Trump’s presidency delivered to Christian conservatives some of their most coveted goals: Hundreds of sympathetic judges joined the federal bench. The U.S. Embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem. And the center of gravity on the Supreme Court shifted firmly to the right.

Since Trump lost his reelection bid, they have claimed additional successes, with Republican-run red states enacting legislation that restricts transgender care and limits the books that can be taught in school or borrowed from the library. The Supreme Court in 2022 ended the legal right to abortion. Last year, Sen. Mike Johnson (R-La.), an evangelical Christian who has said his worldview is the Bible, became speaker of the House.

But far from declaring victory, those who advocate for a more pronounced role for hard-line conservative Christian doctrine in American public life are actively planning to enact a fresh wave of changes in a second Trump term. Should Trump reclaim the presidency in November, they say, it would represent a historic opportunity to put their interpretation of Christianity at the center of government policy.

To advocates for civil, women’s and gay rights, the proposals represent something else: a threat to basic freedoms and a dangerous blurring of boundaries between church and state.

Among the proposals being pushed by the Christian right’s various groups and leaders:

• Removing the words “gender” and “abortion” from federal program documents, as well as the related funding.

• Imposing new restrictions on abortion pills, perhaps through the authority of the Food and Drug Administration.


• Carving out greater exemptions to anti-discrimination laws intended to protect LGBTQ people.

• Establishing a more visible role for Christianity in public schools, including more prayer led by both teachers and students.

Trump advisers have stressed that outside groups and allies do not speak for the campaign and its policy plans. But Trump has made politically conservative Christians a bedrock of his base and has signaled he remains attuned to their priorities, even as many in the community appear prepared to back him no matter what specific promises he makes.

In 2016, Trump had to overcome the suspicion of conservative Christian leaders that came with being a twice-divorced celebrity who had publicly backed abortion rights and had never exhibited any particular religiosity. He picked Mike Pence, the evangelical Indiana governor, as his running mate in part to assuage worries he wasn’t sufficiently committed to their cause.

In 2024, Trump - who was convicted last month of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to a porn actress and director - is considered a proven protector and champion of conservative Christians. He has been afforded wide latitude even when he breaks with their cause, as he did this spring when he declined to endorse a national abortion ban.

“This is not a naive trust - it’s a trust based on a track record,” said Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, an enthusiastic Trump supporter. “I think what evangelicals agree with is his general narrative that America would be better off if we return to our Judeo-Christian roots. What that looks like - people are willing to give him great leeway on how it would be implemented.”

This year, there is no single issue that galvanizes the Christian right in the way that overturning Roe v. Wade once did, some community leaders said. But Trump has aggressively signaled to conservative Christian voters that their policy preferences remain a high priority.

Trump has said he will create a special Justice Department task force for investigating anti-Christian discrimination cases. He has vowed to halt federal programs deemed to promote gender transition and has threatened to pull federal funding from schools that do so. He has also told evangelicals that he would enable them to wield “power at a level that you’ve never used it before.”

“We have to bring back our religion,” he told an association of religious broadcasters in February. “We have to bring back Christianity in this country.”

In April, Trump referred to Election Day as “Christian Visibility Day, when Christians turn out in numbers that nobody has ever seen before.” The phrase was a play on President Biden’s acknowledgment of Trans Visibility Day, which this year fell on Easter.

The former president recently went so far as to personally advertise a $59.99 King James Bible, saying, “All Americans need a Bible in their home. … We must make America pray again.”

Asked about Trump’s election-year message to conservative Christians, a campaign spokeswoman accused Biden of waging “a years-long assault on Christianity.”

“President Trump will restore and respect the Christian conservative values of faith, family, and freedom, end Biden’s discrimination against Christians, and stand up for religious freedom, as he proudly did in his first term,” Karoline Leavitt told The Washington Post in a statement.

Biden, a practicing Catholic who regularly attends Mass, has vowed to protect religious freedom and pointed to some of Trump’s policies - especially a travel ban on people from several majority-Muslim countries - as violations of that value.

The Biden campaign said in a statement that Trump and his allies would “rip Americans’ rights away.”

In Trump’s America, women will live in fear of having their pregnancies monitored or facing punishment if they have an abortion; teachers are told what books they can teach in the classroom and grown adults who they can love and marry,” said Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa. (Prominent Christian conservatives said in interviews that they did not expect action from Trump to roll back the legality of same-sex marriage, even though they remain deeply opposed).

Analysts say the political advances of the Christian right in recent years mask broader declines for the movement.


Stephen Prothero, a scholar of religion’s role in American politics and society, said Christian conservatism has become in many ways indistinguishable from the secular MAGA political movement, leaving few clear leaders and many divergent goals.

If Trump wins and the policies conservative Christians seek are enacted, Prothero predicted a decline in Christianity in the United States at a time when the nation has been rapidly secularizing. Partisan politicization of religion is driving Americans away from it, he said, and that will continue.

“The religious right is the pawn, and MAGA is the king,” he said.

Sixty-two percent of Americans say they are Christian, Pew Research found last year, down from 90 percent in the 1970s. Conservative Christians, experts on U.S. religion and politics say, are not defined by any one denomination or group but can include everyone from Christian nationalists to social or theological conservatives.

The biggest and most reliable core of the political religious right are White evangelicals, who Pew in 2023 found are 14 percent of the U.S. adult population. Of that group, 76 percent told the research firm PRRI last fall that they would vote for Trump if the election was that day.

In some cases, the policy aims of the Christian right are laid out in lengthy and specific policy papers by groups populated by former Trump administration staffers and confidants. In others, their aspirations are imprecise, more about asserting what they see as lost cultural power.

Among the policy documents compiled by prominent Christian conservative groups is Project 2025′s “Mandate for Leadership.” The document is the product of dozens of well-known groups and was published by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Since its publication, Trump spokespeople have repeatedly said groups including Project 2025 do not speak for the campaign and its policy plans. Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, said the goal of the project is “building a governing agenda, not just for next January but long into the future.”


The document, compiled with multiple people and groups who worked in and with the Trump administration, calls for erasing terms including “abortion,” “reproductive health,” “gender” and “gender equality” from “every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”

“The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors,” reads the mandate, which says promotion of “transgender ideology” is akin to pornography and should be treated as a crime.

Project 2025 suggests closing the Gender Policy Council that Biden established in 2021 to advance gender equity and equality in areas including health, gender-based violence and education. The mandate also calls for Trump to reinstate the ban he established on transgender people in the military, which was overturned by Biden. And it calls for the next administration to “rescind regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, and sex characteristics.”

Gillian Branstetter, spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project and LGBTQ & HIV Project, said the approach is aimed at undermining protections for people who are discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender.

“They don’t want to affirm the existence of gender or gender identity,” Branstetter said. “It’s about our access to health care that protects our lives, protections at school, protections in the workplace.”

Roger Severino, head of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services under Trump and a contributor to Project 2025, said in an interview that a top priority is reversing Biden moves that he argued are forcing religious conservatives to support or participate in activities that “violate their beliefs.” Examples he cited include federal agencies that require honoring people’s pronouns of choice or federal rules that say transgender people must be allowed to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

On abortion, Severino wants the FDA to collect more data on the health outcomes for women who use abortion drugs.

Project 2025 calls for the FDA to reverse its approval of such drugs. It also says a long-dormant 19th-century federal law called the Comstock Act, which makes it illegal to mail anything “intended for producing abortion” - including advice on how or where to obtain one - can be enforced. GOP lawmakers have written court briefs this year saying the act shouldn’t be disregarded and threatening pharmacy chains with enforcement if the chains keep selling abortion drugs.

The “Dobbs decision,” Project 2025 says, “is just the beginning.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Leavitt said Trump “supports the rights of states to make decisions on abortion” and backs exceptions to bans in cases of rape, incest and the life of the woman. Trump said this spring that he would make a statement on abortion drugs in a couple of weeks, but never did.

Speaking at a Washington Post Live event last week, longtime conservative Christian lobbyist Ralph Reed warned the GOP and Trump not to weaken their antiabortion efforts.

“Look, President Trump is my friend and I’ve strongly supported him,” said Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “But I would encourage the Trump campaign to proceed with great caution in sending a message of retreat when it comes to treatment of the unborn.”


Conservative Christian leaders stressed that they share other GOP voters’ top concerns, especially on immigration, and support Trump’s call for the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and ideological screening of newcomers.

“If you don’t like our religion - which a lot of them don’t - if you sympathize with the jihadists, then we don’t want you in our country and you are not getting in,” Trump said in a speech in New Hampshire last fall.

In addition to policy changes, some Christian right leaders say they are looking to Trump for his rhetoric, which they say stands out for his willingness to speak about Christianity with praise and exceptionalism.

“He didn’t make any secret [when he was president] about the fact that he believed Christianity to be probably the premier religion in America,” said Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor and former member of Trump’s informal White House evangelical advisory group. “I would just hope that he continues that outspokenness.”