IFAS | Freedom Writer | May 1996 | guide1.html

Tips from Cecile Richards

It is discouraging to think about beginning to provide an alternative to the Religious Right when it is so well funded and so immense. My advice for activists in other states is, just start doing it! You can accomplish a lot with just two staff people and supportive volunteers.

Don't do it alone! The Religious Right's mode of operation is to create fear and division in the community, whether it is the local school board community or the larger state community. For your own personal well-being and in order to be effective, you have to be able to reach out to other people and other organizations to build a coalition.

Churches are a good place to begin to form inter-ethnic coalitions that bridge race and class differences. This is particularly important because the Christian Coalition has chosen to try to divide us along religious lines. People of faith need to know that there are other people of faith who do not agree with this political movement.

In campaigning against Religious Right initiatives, take the high road! What we have found in electoral politics is that if people are simply informed about the Religious Right position on issues, Religious Right candidates won't be successful. They can only be successful when they run as stealth candidates and refuse to reveal the positions they hold on education and other issues.

We can do a lot by simply educating people about what's happening and making sure that people know who they are voting for. We've found that doing candidate surveys and providing voter education is incredibly effective.

As activists, we do not have to agree on everything. We can just agree that we do not want a national political movement running our country, and certainly not a movement as intolerant as the Christian Coalition!

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.