Faith walk: "If I Were the Devil"


This week’s column is adapted from a long ago radio script by the renowned broadcaster Paul Harvey. This was the script of his broadcast on April 3, 1965.

If I were the devil – I mean, if I were the prince of darkness, I'd want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I'd have most of its real estate as well as most of its population, but I wouldn't be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree: You.

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. 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 seem dull or non-interesting. I'd saturate TV with dirtier movies. I'd pedal narcotics to everyone I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction: I'd tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the devil, I'd soon have families at 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.

If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; just let their emotions run wild. Until before you knew it, you'd have to have armed policemen, drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every school house door.

Within a decade, I'd have prisons overflowing; I'd have judges promoting pornography. Soon I could evict God from the court house, then from the school house, 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.

If I were the devil, I'd make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

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

What'll you bet I couldn't 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 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, if I were the devil, I'd just keep right on doing what he's doing.

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