Strippers vs. Church

Dear Persuader,

In today’s blog post I have a fascinating case study to share with you about the persuasive power of enemies.

The Columbus Dispatch in Warsaw Ohio reported on a story so funny that I could barely contain myself as I read it.

I’ll present the gist of it here for you along with my analysis. There are profound lessons in persuasion to be learned here.

For the past four years churchgoers from a local church gather approximately 7 miles from the church near a strip club. They videotape customers coming in and out of the club and post them online.  They use bullhorns and signs to try and dissuade customers from frequenting the strip club.  And of course they invite everyone, including the dancers to “come to church”.

This last weekend the dancers decided to take the church up on their invitation.  They showed up for church.  Only thing is, they came wearing see-through shorts and sporting super soakers.

They sat on the front lawn of the church and grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob and in general had a good time.  They waved at the passersby while waving their own signs.

Signs like: “Matthew 7:15: Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  And–“Revelations 22:11: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still.

If this isn’t funny enough, there’s more.

The strip club owner sued the church in federal court several years ago claiming a violation of his constitutional rights, but he lost.  So now he feels turnabout is fair play.  If they can come to his club, he can come to their church.

Several members of the church came and offered to pray for a couple of the dancers to which the dancers graciously accepted. One of the dancers said she was grateful for the prayers and went on to explain that after all the majority of the dancers were also religious.

One of the dancers, a 30-year-old married mother of six explained that she has worked there the last 10 years and does so to keep her home together and give her children what they need.

This story presents some powerful lessons in persuasion.

So tell me, who will win?  The church or the strippers?

Here’s the answer… Neither One.  However, both will probably help the other in powerful ways.

Do you believe the church will ever accept the strippers?  The problem is, that they really can’t – even if they wanted to.  Why? Because they’ve made the strippers the enemy… the devil incarnate.

The church, by creating this enemy and by publicly making a show of trying to shut them down has locked themselves into a position of having to defeat the strip club or accept defeat… something they can’t do.

Their choice of enemy has helped define who they are.

I asked the question above, ‘who will win?’  But a better question to ask would be, ‘who will benefit?’  And in this case, the very business that the church would like to run out, will probably grow in size and power because of the free publicity the church is ensuring they get.

The church may also grow in size due to the publicity.  But probably not.  The way in which they’ll benefit is having their membership grow even more committed to ousting this evil business.

We can only hope that the church will not cross the line and commit violence in the pursuit of their ideals.

This is a great case study in the use of enemies.  Your use of persuasion can be made infinitely more powerful if you have an enemy.  All companies and organizations can have enemies (real or imagined).  However, your choice of enemy helps define you – so choose wisely.

If the church had done this type of analysis, do you think they would have chosen this particular enemy?  All I can say is, they might have but they would have been much better off being a bit more general with this instead of so specific.  In this case they might actually be helping the very group they wish to hurt.

Enemies can be clearly definable or can be ideas.  For example, look at the “war on terror” or the “war on drugs”.  In these instances the enemies are terror and drugs.  These are both extremely intangible.  These “wars” have done nothing but line the government’s pockets with money.  Well that’s not true, they’ve given the drug cartels the capability of giant profits, thus ensuring that they continue.

These wars have also caused ongoing fear and unrest in the population at large.  Are they worth it?  Only you can decide.

So in your selection of an enemy, choose wisely.  It’s best if your enemy actually stirs up the emotion in the group you want to persuade.  But common sense dictates that you use discretion in your choice.

I hope this case study has been eye-opening.  And it would be great if you shared with everyone your thoughts on the use of enemies.

And why not post other examples of organizations and enemies as they come to mind.  It could be quite eye-opening.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


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