AUSTIN — Despite controlling the state government for two decades, Republican politicians have repeatedly refused to deal with numerous important statewide family issues and caused Texas to fall behind other states in protecting children.

Enter the American Principles Project.

A Good “Disruptor”

As state politicians have continued to leave women’s sports vulnerable in Texas, allow child mutilation operations across the state, and allow pornography and racist curricula in schools, APP is launching its first state chapter to fight politicians who don’t protect the family.

“APP is a disruptor,” APP President Terry Schilling told Texas Scorecard in an exclusive interview. “[We’re an] organization that is organizing families in politics to fight the enemies of America and the enemies of the family.”

APP was founded in 2009 after they saw the Republican Party at risk of “going super soft on the social issues.” Since then, the organization has engaged in numerous campaign and election brawls to kick out politicians who cozy up to big corporations instead of passing laws to protect families.

“Nowadays, everyone has a political arm or lobbyist to protect their interests. But the American family does not,” reads APP’s website. “Given the increasingly hostile progressive attacks on parents and children, the American family cannot afford to be without a political cavalry to defend it.”

“The American Principles Project wants to make the family the most powerful, well-represented special interest group in Washington, D.C.,” the organization says. “Existing pro-family groups largely focus their efforts on education and tracking legislation. That’s great. But we need more. APP is the only national pro-family organization engaging directly in campaigns and elections.”

Schilling said they mostly fight the “sexual left” on issues such as pornography for minors, disfiguring children with “sex change” procedures, and “anything like that that’s purely destructive and an attack on the human person.”

“We want to make sure the politicians pay a political price when they hurt families, when they hurt children, when they refuse to take action to protect their innocence,” he said. “Our focus is the campaigns, ensuring a political consequence for politicians who do the wrong thing. We want the battle lines exposed.”

Why Texas?

Schilling explained he sees a glaring problem in the Lone Star State: Republican politicians won’t enact strong, needed protections into state law—and other pro-family organizations cover for them.

For instance, consider the women’s sports issue: Across the nation, young women face a growing threat of losing their athletic opportunities and scholarships to boys intruding on their sports, yet Texas’ Republican state lawmakers repeatedly refused to enact a safeguard into law. When they were finally forced to approve a fix several weeks ago, lawmakers excluded college women from any protection.

Notably, the NCAA had threatened Texas politicians that they’d move championship games away from the state if they passed a law to protect women athletes.

“There’s no reason to thank Governor [Greg] Abbott for the bill he just signed with women’s sports. There’s no reason. It was a compromise. It was pathetic; it was weak,” Schilling said. “Yet the pro-family groups are bragging about it. We still have to go pass another law now because they couldn’t get it done the first time. … Florida protects college athletes. Florida wasn’t worried about [the NCAA].

“Why was this women’s sports bill such a big deal? Was it really too much to also protect college female athletes? It makes no sense.”

Additionally, Republican state lawmakers and Abbott have repeatedly refused to outlaw gender mutilation operations on minors, a legislative priority of the Republican Party of Texas after the nationally known child abuse case of Dallas-area boy James Younger.

“I would argue that the business community has really controlled [the state legislature and governor]. It’s not the tenants of the Republican Party in Texas that’s governing things,” Schilling said.

“Most of our members are from Texas, and we kept getting alarming messages from them saying we really need a group like this in Texas,” he continued. “No one’s coming in here, no one attacks the bad guys. … The other groups in Texas don’t want to throw punches. They thank the governor for the scraps off the table that he gives them.”

He added, “I’m never gonna thank a politician for taking the easy way out. I’m never going to beg a politician ‘pretty please.’”

“We need a group that’s going to come in and fight, a group that’s willing to punch the bad guys in the teeth, whip our guys into shape, be a formidable foe to our enemies and a dependable ally to our friends. And that’s what we want to do.”

The Real Battleground in Texas

Schilling also said a major problem is that many Republican politicians in Texas have done a good job at convincing voters they’re strong and pro-family, while they do the exact opposite at the Capitol in Austin.

“The left has been running the gamut on us because they’re all united. And meanwhile, everything on the right is clouded,” Schilling said. “We think people are our allies, but when they go into the caucus meetings, they’re killing us. And so, we want to expose everything.”

Schilling said his organization doesn’t care about Republican or Democrat party labels; APP simply cares about getting results for families.

“I’m not here as an expert on Texas, I’m here as an expert on how to make politicians pay a price and what makes them tick, what makes them fearful,” he said. “My dad was a member of Congress, and I can tell you firsthand, they hate the phone calls. They don’t like the pressure, they don’t like when people protest outside their office. They hate it.”

“Our Texas activists who have signed up and are donating to us, they want us here because they recognize that we have political courage,” Schilling added. “They recognize that we’re willing to get into these fights, we’re willing to get dirty if we have to, but we have integrity. And we know what’s important. What’s important is our children.”

“We need to put Abbott and other Republican lawmakers in a position where they have to choose: Do I want the family vote? Do I want these activists burning my phone lines up, running primary challengers against me, spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars against me?”

The Family Can Be a Force in the Fight

“The family has been greatly underutilized as a political institution, something that can be organized in politics to affect change for the better and turn this country around. We want to start doing that,” Schilling said.

Schilling said some organizations, like Focus on the Family, have “accidentally stumbled on this” in the last few decades. He said they used to have a powerful army of family advocates who could shut down bad legislation, win elections, persuade politicians, and shift change in the halls of government—but they eventually moved away from politics.

“There’s a lot of reasons for that: bullying from the IRS and the government, fear of losing their [nonprofit] status,” he said. “We don’t have that problem because APP has [two types of nonprofit entities] and a super PAC. So, we have whatever entity we need to use to get our message out and make sure the voters know what’s going on. We can do it all.”

“We need to stop begging these politicians to help us out and help families. We’re done. This is too serious,” Schilling said. “We have the power. The politicians need our votes; they need our donations; they need our activism.”

The Real Reason for Fighting

Schilling shared that he experienced a lot of brokenness in his own family growing up and knows many people have similar stories, which is the very reason why he wants to fight for healthy and safe homes.

“[People] don’t realize that’s even more reason to save the family, to get back to functional households where the spouses love each other unconditionally and their children unconditionally. That’s the ideal,” he said. “It’s just a very personal fight for me with my own kids. I’ve seen this with my family.”

“My dad’s real legacy isn’t going to Congress. It’s not starting four pizza restaurants. It’s not building two homes. His real legacy is his kids.”

The Texas Launch

APP officially launched their Texas chapter on Wednesday, with a video ad urging Gov. Abbott to pass a real women’s sports protection law.

“We want to be engaged and invest here. We want to rely on Texas activists to turn the state around, tell us what to do, tell us what issues they care about,” Schilling said. “We want to grow a serious movement and tens of thousands of activists here that will light up the phone lines, write letters, write emails, go to their legislators’ social media accounts and put pressure on them. That’s our vision.”

For the Texas chapter, APP has appointed North Texas pastor Chris Hopper as the director.

“As a lifelong Texan and pro-family advocate, I’m thrilled to be joining with APP to advance the interests of our state’s families,” Hopper said on the chapter’s announcement. “Texas sets the standard for the country in so many ways, but unfortunately, our leaders don’t always take the needs of families into account in their decisions. That has to change, and I’m excited to be at the forefront of this growing movement as we work to cement Texas’ status as the best state to raise a family.”

“Texas is a critical state for our movement. If pro-family forces lose Texas, the rest of the country will not be far behind,” Schilling concluded. “Therefore, we must make our stand here to ensure the state remains a stronghold of freedom and a refuge for families.”


Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.


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