Paul Harvey’s Warning Was broadcast in 1965; it’s sadly come true.

In 1965, an unforgettable warning was broadcast for all to hear. Over half a century later, it’s sadly come true, and it’s chilling to hear.

(Paul Harvey (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Reaching tens of millions of listeners at the height of his career, conservative American news commentator and talk-radio pioneer Paul Harvey was one of the most familiar voices in America thanks to his staccato approach. On the radio, he was quite identifiable with his “idocious delivery of news stories with dramatic pauses, quirky intonations, and many of his standard lead-ins and sign-offs.”

Though he reported with great accuracy, no one could have predicted that his well-known words from decades past would be prophetic, reflecting the reality of today. Indeed, almost half a century ago, the renowned ABC Radio commentator—born Paul Harvey Aurandt in 1918—seemed to foretell how the United States would be today during a 1965 broadcast.

Once most of us hear the well-known line that also serves as the speech’s title and runs across the essay, we almost instantly recognize the broadcast. Paul Harvey famously said in 1965, “If I were the Devil,” before delving into the problems we face now. Though Harvey’s words have an indisputable truth, their prophetic quality may not be as strong as some would think.

Indeed, Paul Harvey first penned his renowned “If I Were the Devil” essay in 1964. The essay was broadcast in 1965 and is still rather well known today. But Harvey updated the present version that usually runs across the internet to reflect current events throughout his life, which sadly came to an end in 2009. From what we have thus far discovered, the first authentic Paul Harvey rendition of this work showed up in his newspaper column in 1964:

If I Were the Devil
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 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 — to say after me — “Our father which are 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 infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, 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.
If I were the Devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild.
I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I’d get preachers to say, “She’s right.”
With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography.
Thus I would 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.
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. Then my police state would force everybody back to work.
Then I would separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps.
If I were Satan I’d just keep doing what I’m doing and the whole world go to hell as sure as the Devil.
[Source: Harvey, Paul. “If I Were the Devil I Would Pray, Our Father Who Art in Washington.” Gadsden Times. Oct 13, 1964 (p.4).]

Often heard today and mistakenly thought to be the same piece from the 1960s, a 1996 newspaper version of Paul Harvey’s “If I were the Devil” actually seems to be what’s heard in the video above. Still, there are some important distinctions.

Though it maintained the idea and organization of the original essay, the 1996 version changed the material to reflect the events of that era. Still, this version is more than two decades old and incredibly accurate for what our country is going through right now.

If I were the 
 prince of
darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world 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 — thee.
So, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.
I’d subvert the churches first, and 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 that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d 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 are 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 and uninteresting.
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 intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I’d tell teachers to let those students run wild. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
With a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing and judges promoting pornography. Soon, I would evict God from the courthouse and the schoolhouse and them from the houses of Congress.
In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.
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’d convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and that what you see on television is the way to be.
And thus, I could undress you in public and lure you into bed with diseases for which there are no cures.
In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.
[Source: Harvey, Paul. “If I Were the Devil.” Reading Eagle. July 1, 1996.]

Whether it’s the 1965, 1996, or another adaptation, the truth is, Paul Harvey’s words have never been more accurate. He was a really amazing man with even more amazing insight. Perhaps, though, another Harvey quotation best describes how he could have apparently so readily foreseen decades past America’s current state.

“Remember that there have always been times like these; these are not unique,” Paul Harvey advised. Whether or not you consider his words to be truly prophetic, they are unquestionably strong and a warning to our country that we should at least start to pay attention to. Instead of embracing, we will always have “times like these,” Maybe it’s time to right our ship and toss the devil overboard permanently.

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