The first step in developing any strategy is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of both parties, to determine the most efficient means of action. Conflict has no standardized form, and any strategy can be countered. By understanding the church’s strengths, you will understand how those strengths will be used against you. By avoiding these strengths, you can discover and exploit their weaknesses, and win by changing the narrative and fighting on your own terms. We have included our strategy, based on our research and assessments, for you to use and modify to fit your particular situation.
The ideal strategy involves no fighting; it coaxes the enemy into surrendering through a combination of intimidation, influence, and leverage. The ideal leader conquers their enemies by calculation, and not by force. The church has spent millennia fortifying their position; while the Crusades, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Postmodernism has eroded their clout from time of Constantine, the deck remains stacked in their favor.
Sun-tzu teaches us that a well-positioned, well-armed, well-defended, and well-supplied fortified enemy should not be directly confronted for any reason. When the deck is stacked against you, any quantum of progress will come at an enormous cost. The church explicitly engineers situations to rile opponent's anger, and drive them into making foolish decisions, so those who oppose them will waste their resources and manpower. Instead, fortified opponents must be fought indirectly, either by:
- Threatening something the enemy cares about. This lures the enemy out of their secure position to perform a rescue.
- Maintaining a secure perimeter around their stronghold, to prevent it from being resupplied. When the enemy eventually consumes all of their supplies, material needs will coax them into leaving their stronghold.
- Virtuous living. Goodness severely demoralizes your enemies, since they will have no argument for hating you. By acting with dignity, enemies cannot rally for action and liberation against your moral outrages, since they won’t exist.
While the odds against you are great, the odds are not insurmountable. Nothing is invincible. The warriors of the ancient legends won their great battles because they only fought when it was easy to win; they only attacked their enemies in their weakest places. The truly great warriors were never praised for being brave, clever, or even lucky -- they merely set themselves up to succeed. The strong can be overcome in many ways; you are invited to explore them all:
- Avoid direct confrontation. Instead, set up traps, and make the enemy come you.
- The weak can control the strong in moments of transition or change. A well-timed joke can embarrass and enrage your enemies, making them attack heedlessly, without forming a strategy.
- Bigger is not always better. Force the enemy to waste their strength and energy, instead of letting them use it to defeat you. Rather than making one brash charge, constantly attack your enemy in different ways and different places, to wear them out by constantly responding to emergencies. A “death by 1,000 cuts” often goes unnoticed until it is too late.
- Cause division within the enemy’s organization. Sabotage the enemy’s relationships, friendships, and alliances. Have infiltrators enter the enemy’s organization; have them commit sabotage and spread rumors to divide a powerful enemy into smaller, weaker enemies who fight among themselves.
- Prepare for all contingencies. Daily training is needed to avoid becoming fearful and hesitant when confronted. Likewise, leaders must constantly develop strategies for different contingencies. The end goal of this constant plotting is not to create an exhaustive encyclopedia of strategies, or to make a master decision tree or flowchart to reduce conflict to a series of automated responses to enemy action. Such a system is impossible, because a clever opponent can find and exploit hidden weaknesses. Cleverness conquers all, and leaders who are constantly making plans will become excellent at planning. Thus, they will be able to quickly adapt their plans to account for an enemy’s trickery, or to exploit their mistakes.
- Sun-tzu, trans. by T. Cleary, The Art of War (Shambhala, 1988).