If I Were the Devil | Paul Harvey

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A Warning from 1965

– 1965 |

” is a powerful and thought-provoking essay written and delivered as a radio commentary by in 1965 that highlights the dangers of moral decay and spiritual decline.

was a renowned American radio broadcaster who wrote and broadcasted his famous essay “” in 1964. The essay was first published as a newspaper column and later aired on radio on April 3, 1965. It has since become a classic piece of social commentary, eerily predicting the future spiritual condition of the United States with remarkable accuracy. “” is a powerful and thought-provoking essay that highlights the dangers of moral decay and spiritual decline.

Harvey worked for ABC News Radio. He was known for his distinctive style, which included pauses and intonations for dramatic effect. His programs reached as many as 24 million people per week, and his commentaries were famous for their in-depth feature stories, news segments, and humorous finales.

The Essay

In “,” Harvey imagined what steps the devil might take to corrupt human civilisation. He described a scenario where the devil would subvert churches, schools, and governments, promoting a culture of moral decay and spiritual decline. The essay predicted the rise of social and political issues that would erode the moral fabric of society, including:

  • Churches and Schools: Harvey foresaw the devil manipulating churches to promote a culture of permissiveness and the erosion of moral values. He also predicted that schools would neglect to discipline emotions, leading to a lack of self-control and discipline among young people.
  • Government and Politics: The essay predicted the devil would use government to promote a culture of dependency and moral decay. Harvey foresaw the rise of a society where people would rely on government for everything, rather than taking personal responsibility.
  • Media and Entertainment: Harvey predicted that the devil would control the media, using it to promote a culture of immorality and to desensitise people to moral issues. He also foresaw the rise of a culture that would glorify violence, sex, and other forms of immorality.
  • Family and Marriage: The essay predicted the devil would attack the family, the backbone of any nation. Harvey foresaw the rise of a culture that would promote divorce, single-parent households, and other forms of family breakdown.
  • Religion and Morality: Harvey predicted that the devil would use psychology and science to replace religion, leading to a society that would value materialism and hedonism over spiritual values.



… If I were the Prince of Darkness, I'd want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I'd have a third of its real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn't be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — Thee.  So I'd set about however necessary to take over the United States. I'd subvert the churches first — I'd begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.'

“To the young, I would whisper that ‘The Bible is a myth.' I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what's bad is good, and what's good is ‘square.' And the old, I would teach to pray, after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…'

“And then I'd get organized. I'd educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I'd threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I'd pedal narcotics to whom I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.

I'd soon have families that war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I'd have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions — just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you'd have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.

“Within a decade I'd have prisons overflowing, I'd have judges promoting pornography — soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. I'd make the symbols of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

I'd take from those who have, and give to those who want until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.

And what do you bet I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich? I would caution against extremes and hard work in Patriotism, in moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus, I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure. In other words, I'd just keep right on doing what he's doing.

, good day.”

Harvey's essay is a good exercise in understanding our inverted world as it presciently describes many of the moral and cultural shifts that have occurred in society since 1965. The essay forces us to consider how the devil might subtly manipulate people's thinking to undermine traditional values and faith. Reflecting on the essay helps reveal how many of the devil's tactics described by Harvey have indeed come to pass in the form of rampant materialism, moral relativism, secularism, and self-centredness in modern culture. Analysing the essay is a thought-provoking way to recognise the spiritual battle being waged for people's hearts and minds.

Source: If I were the devil – REMASTERED – Paul Harvey – 1965 – YouTube


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