Paul Harvey was one of the most popular radio personalities for nearly sixty years. Starting his career at the age of 14, he continued to broadcast until his death at 90. His programs “The Rest of the Story” and “Paul Harvey News and Comment” reached as many as 24 million listeners each week.
In 1964, Harvey wrote a commentary entitled “If I Were the Devil.” He retold it several times over the following fifty years, but each version retained the primary theme of the original. As the years pass, his words become eerily prophetic.
The following is a transcript of a 1965 retelling of the original. Judge for yourself whether he was writing fantasy or prophecy.
If I Were the Devil
By Paul Harvey
If I were the Prince of Darkness I would want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.
I’d 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 should 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 whispers 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.”
Then I’d get organized.
I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull, uninteresting.
I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies, and vice-versa.
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.
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; let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have 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 courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, then from the houses of Congress.
Then in His own churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science.
I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
If I were Satan 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.
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, 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.