The following essay was first broadcast by legendary ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on this day in 1965:
The speech has undergone a number of changes over the last fifty-two years, being reworked and edited by the author and others, but the adaptations I have published here …. are as close to the original as can be found.
I am of the opinion that they were at the time written as a clear, albeit stark warning to the people of America, (and the wider world) of what may happen to their country over the next few decades if evil was allowed to take root and flourish ….
And what is also clear, is that not enough of them listened.
If I were the Devil . . .
“I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.
I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree,
So I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.
I’d subvert the churches first.
I would 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, “The Bible is a myth.”
I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around.
I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”.
In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you.
I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct.
And the old I would teach to pray after me, “Our Father, which art in Washington”
And then I’d get organised.
I’d educate authors 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 infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, and less work.
Idle hands usually work for me.
I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could.
I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction.
I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I’d get preachers to say, “She’s right”.
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 it’s own was consumed.
And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerising mass media fanning the flames.
If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but to neglect to discipline emotions, just let those run wild until and before you knew it, you’d 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.
With Flattery and promises of power, I would get the courts to rule what I construe as being against God and in favour of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse and 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, because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not be wise enough to use them.
I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
If 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 would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
Then my police state would force everybody back to work.
And what will you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?
I would caution against extremes in hard work, in patriotism, in moral conduct.
I would convince the young that your marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and 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.
Then, I would separate families, putting children into uniform, women into coal mines, and objectors into slave camps.
In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.”
Paul Harvey. April 3rd 1965.