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February 2005

Quick plan to win the separation of church and state battle

Yesterday I wrote that we Progressives need to be more focused on specific efforts that are measurable and winnable.

I'm thinking specifically of the great Martin Luther King. With a tiny group of dedicated followers, he waged strategic campaigns to achieve one victory after another. Everything he did was focused, measurable, and effective. We are doing nothing of the sort today.

So, I got to thinking, would any of his tactics work today? We seem unable to influence policy by winning elections, so now what? Do we just wait around for the next election? I think not. Allow me to suggest a campaign that we can win:


One of the things that bothers me most is President Bush's Faith Based Initiative program, which strikes me as immoral to the core. Our government is using the power of the IRS and law enforcement to funnel our hard-earned money toward religious causes many of us do not believe in. We need separation of church and state.


One strong leader and a few thousand people can win this battle legally and legitimately. If our tax money is being used to support religious groups, it seems to me that those organizations are no longer private. If my money is going to their venue, then I should have a voice in their venue.

Someone should put up a website listing of all religious groups that are accepting funding from the government. Next, local volunteers should go to their religious services and take the following actions:

Week 1: Put fliers on all the cars in the parking lot warning that if they do not cut off Federal funding they will have their church services interrupted each week until they do. Explain our case, that if they want our money they will have to deal with us, too. Encourage church members to pressure church leaders into contacting our organization and publicly pledging not to accept any more funds (the measurable part). If they fail to make that promise, then...

Week 2, 3, 4, etc.: A few individuals should walk into church services and interrupt them. Shout that, since they get public money the public should have a voice. Force them to deal with that. Direct them to the website for more info. What are they gonna do, throw you out? Implement security? Great. Make them DEAL WITH US. I’m telling you, we can really rain on their parade. Imagine, a church with a security force. Church members will not stand for it. We will have made our point.

The result:

We teach religious people that separation of church and state is good for them, too. They cut the ties with government, we publically thank them, leave them alone, and wish them well.  We shift public opinion and win this battle!

I'm not the person to lead this. I'm leaving the country soon. But if there are any future Martin Luther Kings in the house this would be a very good start.

Fighting for a lost cause

I'm tired of being asked to contribute money.  I'm tired of being asked to volunteer.  I'm tired of constantly being asked to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing.

A recognition of truth doesn't necessarily require action.  Action is only required when a battle can be won.  In other words: choose your battles carefully.

Too often, the leaders of our movements view us as an endless sea that can never be exhausted.  In reality, we only have a certain amount of energy and time.  I'm not talking about energy in a metaphysical sense, but in a real sense.  Between when we get up in the morning and when we go to bed, how much of our time and energy will go to work?  How much goes to our relationships?  How much goes to hobbies and education?  And how much goes to giving back to our communities?  Our time and energy are scarce, and yes, we do have to be careful how we use it.

One of my core values is to seek truth.  Let's say a bunch of us share this same value and, after a lifetime of study and observation we recognize that, for example, the man-made, globalist, capitalist system in which we live is inherently corrupt and is a cancer on the earth.  Let's say we realize that, like any out-of-control cancer, it is only a matter of time before it grows to a point where it destroys the living body upon which it depends.

So the obvious question is, if you believe this to be the case, how can you go on about your life and take part in the very system you oppose?  Why aren't you out on the street corner every day demanding an end to this destructive force?  Why don't you give all the money and effort you have and fight?

The answer: because you can't win every battle.

See.  Truth doesn't necessarily have to lead to action.  Self-preservation and a realistic risk / reward evaluation need to be part of one's consideration.  There's nothing shameful or immoral about this.  We are all governed by the same laws of evolution, and survival is a big part of what we're designed to do.

So isn't it hypocritical to accept a truth and do nothing about it?  No.  "Hypocrisy" is defined by as: "The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness."  It is, therefore, quite a leap to say that, because you do not believe in the goodness or rightness of the system upon which you depend for survival, you must sacrifice your own survival to fight it...even if fighting it is a lost cause that will achieve no good.  Even if you are willing to make this leap and say that such a person is a hypocrite...then I would respond that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that kind of hypocrisy.  I will take a truth-seeking hypocrite any day over a master of self-delusion. 

You see, there are three basic options: 1) Fooling yourself into believing a lie, 2) intellectually accepting truth but taking no action, or 3) intellectually accepting truth and taking action.  Most of the population lives a life of 1, a few of the most intelligent among us live a life of 2, and the god-like among us live a life of 3.  But in a highly-corrupt system, 3 isn't attainable or sustainable for most.  Indeed, a Utopian society would be one in which everyone could viably choose 3.  Now let's consider how we get there.

When we constantly ask people to fight a losing battle, we all become demoralized and lose all hope.  If we were serious about creating a better world, we'd respect each other more than that.  We'd focus on choosing our battles more carefully.  We'd calculate exactly what it will take to win and move forward in a deliberate fashion.  Our leaders would reach out to us and say, "Now's the time to act.  Do X and Y will result."  And then, doing X would actually result in Y 90% of the time.  Shit, I'd even take 50% of the time.  Better yet, figure out a way that I can do the right thing and at the same time benefit...or at least avoid risking self-preservation. 

And my message to people like John Kerry: Do not ask me to sacrifice and then hide behind your desk with $50 million of our dollars in some account when it is all over.  Fuck you for that.  Fuck you for losing.  I didn't give you that money for your 2008 run or for the stability of the Party.  I gave you my hard-earned energy, I even offered up my credibility and stood behind you, because I expected you to fucking win.  You should be ashamed.  The worst part is, you didn't do everything you could to win ($50 million dollars buys a lot of airtime).

I guess all I'm saying is that we all need to choose our battles more carefully.  We need to get behind winning battles in a coordinated way.  Then we actually need to win. 

The first step is to figure out what we're even fighting for.  The next step is to develop a specific road-map of how to get us there.  The third step is to make that specific vision a reality, and do it in a way that respects the time and energies of all those involved.

Truth equation

An idea - religion - nationalism - selfishness = truth

When they infect your brain with religion, nationalism, or selfishness, you are not representing truth.