Fundamentals of Christian Resistance VII

C. Engage in Publicity/Letter Writing:

Politicians are sensitive about letters, if they get a number of them complaining about a specific topic. Most parliamentarians have a majority in their electorate of 2-5%. I heard once that they consider one letter on a local issue to be indicative of the views of 200 constituents. The vast majority of people would never write to a politician, but they may very well feel the same way as those letter writers.

In an average electorate of 35,000 people, twenty letters complaining about a specific issue could be representative of 4,000 people. If those 4,000 people (about 11%) felt strongly enough about that issue and changed their vote next election, that Parliamentarian will be looking for a new job.

He knows there are only a certain number of letters he can ignore, before his job is on the line. If it is a matter where he suspects there could be a ground-swell of electorate anger, and there are no reasons of principle to oppose this, he will have to get moving to stay ahead of the game. On election day, his bureaucrat friends can’t save him from an electoral backlash, and as an election draws closer (ie, only months away) politicians are increasingly sensitive about not alienating their electorate. As one said, “when we feel the heat, we see the light.”

Christians must learn to make good use of the written word. When a particularly flagrant example of statist interference with our liberties hits a congregation or a school, local Christians must put their key-boards to work. Yet few Christians are in the habit of writing letters on important topics. They probably will not know where to begin. The first letters of public protest should go to elected officials.  What is important here is to distinguish letters from press releases. They are not the same sort of communications device. A letter must give the appearance of being personal. A letter can be written by a computer-driven, letter-quality printer, but it must appear to have been personally typed.

You want a person with authority to read the letter. He has to believe that it was written by a constituent. There are some basic rules to follow. First, your letter should be neatly typed. The person reading it should not be expected to decipher your handwriting. Second, the letter should be no longer than one single-spaced page. This increases the likelihood that it will actually be read. Long letters are more likely to be tossed out. If you cannot state your case in 500 words, hire someone who can.

Enclose newspaper clippings, if possible. This demonstrates to the official that this issue is becoming public. It makes it more difficult for him to avoid dealing with it. [1]

If bureaucrats have a fear of publicity, and lack skills with the media, that is something for Christians to capitalise on. If they want to treat the population with contempt, then they should be brought to account, with their letters and responses to people publicised. Bureaucrats run from adverse publicity the way cockroaches run from light. This weakness must be exploited by Christian activists.”  [2] The bureaucrats’ minister will have to either defend or disown their behaviour- an acid test for him.

D. The Press Release:

If there is a matter where bureaucrats have really fouled their nest, activists can prepare a Press Release. Bureaucrats are supposed to be public servants, and if they are failing, let them have egg on their faces, and the Minister have to deal with it. If they are embarrassed, it reflects badly on him, both in the parliament, and in the public eye. He wants to stop this, and the more publicity his inept and interfering staff are getting, the better.

If he is regularly being put in Damage-Control mode by his department, he will want to get to the source of the problem quickly. An interview and photograph with a local Pastor or former Mayor (“respected community leaders”) who agree that the bureaucracies’ actions seemed unwarranted, put extra pressure on the Minister: “The locals are upset about this; I’ll have to sort this out immediately.”

Remember, papers need material every day. A local issue (which is catchy and topical) is great for them to use.

Keep the paragraphs short – no longer than four lines each. If necessary, use subheadings. Make it easy for the reporter to get the story in a nut- shell. Remember, the invading bureaucracy probably did not expect this, and it will take time for the bureaucrats to get their official statement cleared. Meanwhile, the newspaper is devoting more space to your side of the story because you have provided the reporter with more copy… The news story answers the five basic questions: who, what, when, where, and how? It does not say why. The news story is designed to create the appearance of objectivity…

Publicity, publicity, and more publicity. This should be a full-time program of the attacked organization, right from the beginning. Never let up. Keep sending out material. Bureaucrats despise unfavourable publicity. If you can badger them into making outrageous statements, have a witness and a tape recorder present. Make them look like tyrants or fools. Hound them. Just keep coming back. If they throw you out of the room, be sure you have it all on videotape. (Make back-up copies of the tapes immediately.) Be sure to play to the audience. Look like wounded lambs. Make your opponents look like wounded water buffaloes.

This is a media event. Never forget this. Your best earthly aid is publicity. Make sure you orchestrate as much of it as possible. Always consider just how what you are doing will look in print or on the T.V. screen.[3]

Should Christians be content for the bureaucrat’s practices to be suspended after some adverse publicity, so he can slink back to his office to lay low while the smoke blows away? No. The thing to press for is a change in the law, so he or another like him doesn’t have the opportunity to repeat the process again. That is when a real success has been won, and we start to get some victories under our belt.

Because bureaucracies escalate their attack on opponents, and because they never are skilled at mapping out long-term strategies, they can be beaten. Because they are unable to spot a coming crisis early enough to take cost-effective steps to head it off, we are in a position to go about our affairs quietly. We can prepare for the coming confrontations at our own pace most of the time. The lack of immediate confrontation is no excuse for not preparing. We should be clear about where we are headed.

We must not be as short-sighted as our bureaucratic, humanistic opponents. So far, Christians have been even more short-sighted. This must end, soon. We are in a religious war. There will be a victor and a loser… It is our responsibility to work towards comprehensive victory. [4]

[1] “Tactics…,” ibid, p.166.

[2] “Tactics…,” p.409.

[3] “Tactics…,” p.160-163.

[4] “Tactics…,” p. 189.

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