During our recent Holy Week I was searching for the great message famed radio announcer Paul Harvey would share with millions of people every Easter. I used a copy of it on April 1st and I’m still getting emails about it. Harvey literally owned the airwaves when I was growing up and, at the height of his popularity, he was the most famous man in America.
On any given day Paul Harvey Aurandt (his birth name) could claim an average of 24 million listeners and that doesn’t include the Armed Forces network that went all over the world. Over 1,600 stations carried him and his popular opinions were syndicated in at least 300 newspapers.
As I tracked down his Easter message, entitled “The Birds,” I ran across another great one I can’t remember if I heard back in the day. My goodness, he still had two years left on a $10 million-per year contract when he died in 2009. That’s a lot of stories dating back to 1933 when his voice was first heard as a nighttime disc jockey in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (He was 14 years old when he first weaseled under a mic.)
A devout Christian and friend of Billy Graham, Harvey never hesitated to love the Lord with his uplifting stories and I just learned via Google his “If I Were the Devil” has been reprinted quite a number of times. But now there is “The Rest of the Story” you’ll find at the end of message so read this carefully:
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“If I were the devil, 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 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.” “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”.
And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…’
And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors on how to 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 at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations that war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed.
And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flame.
If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, and 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, and then 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 wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.
What do you bet I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?
I would question against extremes and hard work, and Patriotism, and moral conduct.
I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging 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 on doing on what he’s doing.”
Paul Harvey, good day.”
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AND, NOW, THE REST OF THE STORY: Paul Harvey aired his prophetic “If I were the Devil” for the first time in 1964 – that’s 54 years ago. What has happened to the United States since then?
Good day indeed.