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As many Catholics celebrate midnight mass, I'm remembering one of my all-time favorite activist actions. Back in the early 1990s, I was a member of the Ann Arbor chapter of ACTUP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). One day, a bunch of us were having coffee after a meeting when we realized that a disproportionate number of us were current or former Catholics. (I've noticed this in other activist organizations too; I suspect it has something to do with early doctrination in the idea that sins of omission -- failing to do something good -- are just as bad a sins of comission -- doing something bad. ) That got us talking about the Church's controversial practice of using its considerable wealth and power to lobby -- often successfully -- against AIDS education and condom distribution. In affected communities, these efforts were depriving Catholics and non-Catholics alike of the tools and information they needed to stay alive, just because that particular denomination of Christianity opposes birth control. (The church also actively lobbied against any kind of gay-positive AIDS education. ) As we were all going to be at loose ends over the holidays, we decided to stage a little local intervention. ACTUP was a nonhierarchical organization structured so that subsets of the group could form caucuses (e. g. , women's caucus, people of color caucus) empowered to take independent action. We hurriedly organized ourselves into "the Catholic caucus" and got to work. We made up lovely leaflets printed on one side of Christmas-y red and green paper. Directed at active Catholics, the leaflets quite politely explained the deadly effect of the Church's lobbying efforts, noting that most U. S. Catholics do not agree with the Church on the inherent sinfulness of birth control. The leaflet went on to encourage parishoners to withhold donations from the church -- perhaps giving the money to AIDS education efforts -- until such time as they could be assured that their coins dropped in the poor box would not be used to deprive the poor of life-saving information. Each leaflet also provided some basic AIDS prevention information supplemented by a colorful condom rubber-cemented to the paper. We folded the flyers in thirds, blank side out, and then dressed ourselves up for midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Wearing our best coats and what conservatives would consider to be gender-appropriate clothing, we parked ourselves outside the main Catholic church in town just as the first parishoners were arriving. "Merry Christmas, " we said with a smile, as we handed each arriving parishoner a leaflet that they probably assumed was a program. We made sure not to give any to children or to skip any teenagers. Most people said, "thank you" and "Merry Christmas" too. Some said "Peace be with you, " a sentiment which we wholeheartedly echoed. Cozaar 100mg pills $142.00 it was cold outside, so nobody opened their leaflet until after they got inside, genuflected to the altar, and sat down in a pew. What, then, could they do? They couldn't litter the church. . They had to hold onto the subversive literature. Brains being brains, and boredom being boredom, most people probably read the leaflets all the way through. Of course, our action was not without incident. One man got very angry and came back outside to shout at us from the church steps until a nun shushed him. The nun then stormed out to scold us cozaar 100mg pills $142.00, scaring poor Martin (who had bad memories of Catholic school) half to death. Somebody called the police, who arrived and good-naturedly explained that, since we weren't doing anything other than politely saying "Merry Christmas" and handing out pretty literature on a public sidewalk, there wasn't anything they could do. Privately, they thanked us for a break from a boring evening. One officer requested, and received, a handful of condoms in his girlfriend's favorite color. Besides being fun cozaar 100mg pills $142.00 for us, this action accomplished its goal of informing relatively liberal and affluent parishoners of the dangerous uses to which some of their church donations were being put, thereby helping to stimulate internal dissent. And -- since I always like to make sure that there's some direct action in [cozaar 100mg pills $142.00] there somewhere -- we got some condoms and AIDS information to some teenagers who might not otherwise have had access to them. Did I mention that most of us were queer? We had fun celebrating afterwards, too.


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