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Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #1

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Overview: For some time now, I have presented my views concerning the “tidal wave of change” at St. Peter’s from mixed emotional and analytical perspectives. My wife and I have both suffered personal spiritual offense in the wake of the changes imposed by our Pastor. Others in the Parish have also suffered, including those who are now the “sheep in  exile.” Consequently, my personal feelings were intermingled with a more rational analysis of “The Great Imposition of 2014.”

Although I will not refrain from voicing my personal feelings in the future, it is now time for me to examine what is being imposed on our Parish. From that examination we can learn what rules and tools are available to our Pastor as he continues “The Great Imposition.”

Background: Let it be understood that our Pastor does not walk around with a rule book for radical actions in his back pocket. Nor does he have a shed filled with tools to implement his agenda of imposition. The terms “Rules” and “Tools” are merely conceptual notions that describe the “means and methods” he has acquired and developed over time.

As a starting point for this examination, let us stipulate two well-documented points:

POINT 1: Father was closely associated with and probably a founder of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a close affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Please note that the URL for VOICE.  is “”, clearly showing the very close affiliation with IAF. This excerpt from a 2008 Washington Post article supports this point that Fr. Grinnell was probably a founder of :

“As along as we’re isolated — congregation or church or faith community — we face our own issues without realizing that they’re much more universal,” said the Rev. Horace “Tuck” Grinnell, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Falls Church and one of the founding clergy members.

The IAF History page confirms the alliance that Saul Alinsky  made with the Roman Catholic Church from the very beginning in 1940 by placing a Catholic bishop on its board of directors:

The Industrial Areas Foundation was established in 1940 by Saul David Alinsky and a Board of Directors that included business man Marshal Field, Roman Catholic Bishop Sheil and Kathryn Lewis, daughter of John L Lewis, President of the United Mine Workers.

With IAF and with VOICE you get Saul Alinsky. With Saul Alinsky you get his “Rules for Radicals.” Therefore, with Fr. Grinnell, in some form or fashion, you get some exposure to the Rules for Radicals. Following is a summary of the the 12 rules:

 RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”

Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”

It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”

Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”

Don’t become old news.

RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”

Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”

Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”

Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.


POINT 2: The Rules for Radicals are too expansive for direct application within a parish. Consequently, they must be adapted to fit the parish context. In point of fact, one Protestant pastor did just that. The Rules for Radical Pastors is an article written by Gordon E. Simmons. The author openly testifies that his formation of the “Four organizing principles” were fashioned in accordance with the guidelines of Saul Alinsky and the IAF.

To find this article, one has to go no further than to the “” and find the topic “Training Materials.”

This makes my point: The Website of an organization probably founded by Fr. Grinnell provides “Tools” for organizing a parish according to the philosophy of Saul Alinsky.  The question that remains to be answered  is: Has Fr. Grinnell used the “Four organizing principles” of Rules for Radical Pastors at St. Peter’s?

I will discuss this in more detail later. For now, here are the principles or rules.

RULE 1: Build an organization through individual meetings

RULE 2: Build an organization by presenting a vision of where you are going and moving toward it.

RULE 3: Build an organization through leadership development.

RULE 4: Teaching happens best through an action-reflection model.

Have we seen any of this at St. Peter’s?


1 Comment

  1. […] In Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #1, I presented Saul Alinsky’s 12 Rules for Radicals and Gordon E. Simmons’ four Rules for […]


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