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If I Were The Devil by Paul Harvey

I have never heard this before and I am a huge fan of classic radio and voices like Paul Harvey's and I wasn't aware of this. It's either amazingly prescient or this entire moral panic thing is cyclical and happens in almost exactly the same way every single time throughout the history of civilization. Amen.
If I Were The Devil by Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey

In 1965, Paul Harvey aired a segment called "If I Were the Devil," which astonishingly foresaw the future spiritual landscape of America. Though his remarks seemed far-fetched and improbable nearly six decades ago, they resonate eerily with our current reality.

Paul Harvey’s 'If I Were the Devil’ Transcript

If I were the devil … 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.

If I were the devil 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. If I were the devil 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. If I were the devil I’d make the symbols 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 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, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, good day.

Biography of Paul Harvey

Early Life

Paul Harvey Aurandt was born on September 4, 1918, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father was a police officer who was killed when Paul was just a toddler. Harvey developed an early interest in radio and started working at a local station while still in high school.

Career Beginnings

Paul Harvey attended the University of Tulsa but left before graduating to pursue a full-time career in radio broadcasting. In his early years, he held several radio jobs across the United States before eventually settling in Chicago in 1944. Harvey's big break came when he filled in for a popular Chicago radio broadcaster who had fallen ill.

Rise to Fame

Harvey became well-known for his unique voice and his engaging storytelling style. His radio show, "The Rest of the Story," captivated audiences with tales that contained unexpected or surprising facts revealed at the end. Harvey became famous for his sign-off line, "Paul Harvey... Good day."

"If I Were the Devil"

One of his most famous broadcasts was "If I Were the Devil," aired in 1965. This was a speculative commentary on the societal and moral shifts that Harvey foresaw, many of which have since been subject to intense debate and analysis.

Personal Life and Death

Paul Harvey was married to Lynne "Angel" Cooper, who was also his producer. They had one son, Paul Harvey Jr., who also worked in radio. Harvey continued to work almost up to his death on February 28, 2009.


Paul Harvey received numerous awards during his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. His voice and his style continue to be imitated, and his influence on radio broadcasting is enduring.

Glossary of Terms

  • The Rest of the Story: A radio program hosted by Paul Harvey that provided unexpected or lesser-known facts about various topics.

  • Presidential Medal of Freedom: The highest civilian award in the United States, given for contributions to the national interest, world peace, or cultural endeavors.

  • Alarmist: A person who tends to raise alarms about issues, often exaggerating the dangers involved.

  • Paul Harvey: A renowned American radio broadcaster known for his unique voice and storytelling style.

  • If I Were the Devil: A famous speculative commentary by Paul Harvey aired in 1965, discussing potential societal and moral shifts.

  • Moral Decay: The degradation of established moral and ethical standards in society.

  • Spirituality vs. Materialism: A contrast between life focused on spiritual values and one centered around material possessions and physical pleasures.

  • Individual Responsibility: The concept that each person is accountable for their actions and their impact on society.

  • Political and Social Critique: Analysis or assessment of political and social structures, often pointing out flaws or issues.

  • Pessimism: A tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen.

  • Lurid Literature: Writing that is vividly shocking or sensational, often in a negative sense.

  • Narcotics: Drugs that dull the senses and often create a state of sleep or unconsciousness, sometimes used illicitly.

  • Tranquilize: To calm or sedate, often using drugs.

  • Psychology vs. Religion: The contrast between understanding human behavior through scientific study of the mind (psychology) and through spiritual or religious beliefs.

  • Deify Science: To treat science with a reverence and awe typically reserved for a deity; to elevate science to an almost religious status.

  • Misuse of Church Funds: The improper or unethical handling of money by religious institutions or their leaders.

  • Gambling Promotion: The act of encouraging or advocating for gambling, often as a means to economic success.

  • Moral Conduct: Behavior that is consistent with principles of right and wrong.

  • Cultural Shift: A significant change in the cultural norms, values, or patterns of a society.

  • Media Influence: The impact that media (like TV, newspapers, etc.) has on shaping public opinion, beliefs, and behaviors.

Interpretation of "If I Were the Devil"

Moral Decay

In this piece, Harvey outlines a dark vision of what he considers the potential future moral degradation of American society. His narrative reflects concerns about the erosion of traditional values, the weakening of institutions like the church, and the influence of media and materialism.

Spirituality vs. Materialism

Harvey speaks to a shifting focus from spirituality and traditional values to materialism and self-centered behavior. The warning is that these shifts could lead to societal downfall.

Individual Responsibility

Harvey's focus is not just on systemic issues but also on individual choices. He points out that our collective well-being is the sum of individual actions and decisions.

Political and Social Critique

Harvey critiques various institutions, including the justice system, the media, and the government. He points to the corrupting influence of these entities as contributing to the moral decay he foresees.

Pessimism or Warning?

While some interpret this piece as overly pessimistic, others see it as a clarion call to consider the societal implications of our actions and choices. It serves as a litmus test of sorts, revealing the listener's own values and fears.

In summary, "If I Were the Devil" serves as a provocative societal critique that has elicited a range of reactions over the years, from awe at its prescience to skepticism about its darker predictions. Whether you see it as a cautionary tale that has come true or as an alarmist view of societal change, its resonance across generations is undeniable.