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PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUES AND THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

November 11, 2009

lewis-barlow-publicity-photo-1-wide-lst065934 copyBy Dr. Gary S. Day

Propaganda plays a two-fold role in societal hatred toward Christianity.  First it engenders hateful attitudes, and then it fans the attitudes to spread the propaganda, creating a vicious cycle of anti-Biblical perspectives.  Only by massive intelligent opposition to the propagandist whirlpool of hatred can the destructive effects be turned.  This is accomplished by completely understanding the role and methods of propaganda.

Publicity ignites the locomotion of propaganda, which may be true or not, but whose information would not travel far without it.  Another word for propaganda is advertisement, and these two words can be interchanged, as can the attack on the Bible and on Christianity be interchanged.  And like advertisement, propaganda needs repetition to be effectual.

The two types of propaganda are 1) spontaneous; and 2) contrived.  Spontaneous is existential boasting in the heat of the moment, and is found in everyday conversations, sometimes ending in, “you are full of it,” or “good for you.”  Contrived propaganda is of two kinds: 1) informational; and 2) manipulative, but both are carefully planned and executed.  Informational propaganda presents persuasive facts, with general expectations and effects upon the hearers of those facts.  On the other hand, manipulative propaganda aims at specific behavioral control.

Although there are hundreds of methods used to propagate ideas to control minds, these manipulative propaganda techniques can be categorized into eight overlapping technique groups.  The first group concentrates on the human fear of gaining a bad name for oneself.  “Labeling” words (such as backward, uneducated, narrow-minded, politically correct and outdated) are used to engender this type of fear.   No one wants to be labeled in such a way, so they back away form their positions, even though no evidence is produced to support the propagandist’s position.  This is why Christian young people often give up their sexual purity.  They don’t want to be labeled by their peers unfavorably.  

The second technique group concentrates on the appeal to obtaining a good name, respect, honor, fame and status.  This is the opposite of the first group.  By going to such and such Church, or hanging around this person of influence or that one, many believe their identification with that person, Church, movement, product, etc., will enhance themselves.  Essentials of the Christian faith are often sacrificed to such self-pleasing associations, by accommodation.  The Christian accommodates his Biblical worldview to make way for the propagandized appeal that is suppose to bring honor, fame and status. The propagandist uses pleasant words that cover up the sharpness of Biblically used sin words, such as adultery, which becomes a sexual involvement; sin becomes a weakness; bribery is a fee or tip; and neglect is a shortcoming.  Being broad minded, cultured, scholarly, liberal and other such words are used to allure a person to the propagandist’ way of thinking.  But often the whole picture is not seen or presented, for example, a liberal is intolerant or unaccommodating of any other viewpoint other than their own.  This fact is not presented in the allurement “to become like such and such.”

The third technique attempts to induce people to transfer their respect, faith or allegiances from one brand or position to another.   Sports personages are often used to sway allegiance from one brand, such as Nike, to another brand.   The idea is, “If Mr. Sports person is wearing them, should not you be wearing them too?”   Morally speaking, people who induce others to indulge is questionable activity often point to a well respected person, like a movie star, to break down resistance.   It is not wrong to follow the example of esteemed persons. Christians are encouraged to follow Christ.   Paul and other faithful believers were also to be imitated.   But it is up to us to separate the good examples from the bad.

Fourthly, persuasion through testimonials is a method similar to the above technique, but the appeal is to mass human experience.  “Suzy Homemaker solved her cleaning problem by using this product, you can too!”  The thing to look for here is the emphasis upon “experiences.”  Many of the Charismatic type groups have fallen for this type of persuasion, rather that the usage of the Bible as their stay.  Cults use this technique successfully too.  This technique is essentially, experiential emotional persuasion.

The fifth technique tells half truths and white lies.  True or authentic statements are coupled with false implications to lure away persons from a particular position.  For example: Innocent sounding statements, such as “The Bible’s purpose is to illuminate and guide men in matters of spiritual truth;” and, “The main purpose of the Bible is not to illuminate men about scientific truth” are linked to the implication that because of the Bible’s spiritual nature, the historical, geographical and other physical details need not be accurate– is wrong.  Although it is true that the Bible’s aim is to impart spiritual truth and that it is not scientifically based, it does not imply unreliability in historical and other detail, because the historical matter and the spiritual matter is inseparably connected in the Bible.  This method has been used by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, many cults and others to justify their errors.  This method is used to imply the unreliability of the Bible, and it also has been used to imply certain Biblical passages endorse error, evil and immorality.

The inherent insecurity within people makes them afraid to be different from others, lending power to the sixth propaganda technique, the mob mentality trick.   The persuasion that everybody else is doing it or buying it is a powerful deception.  It makes it difficult for people to be different from others, though Christians are called to be “a peculiar people.”  This technique is often used successfully to attack Christian morality and ethics: “Educated people don’t follow that ancient unreliable and irrelevant book.”

The seventh technique is outright deception called card-stacking or stacking-the-deck.  It is such a powerful tool for propagating error that even aware persons can be tricked.  For instance, many statistics will have the masses supporting the Homosexual agenda in America.  The surveys from which the statistics come are gleaned from those who are inclined to that persuasion in the first place, and then presented as the perspective of the masses.   However, the defeat of the Homosexual agenda in California, Arizona and Maine elections more clearly show the masses’ perspective.

The last propaganda technique used, and used against the Christian faith also, is the visual titillation and teasing that piques your imaginations and fantasies.  The manipulation of sexual desire is at the heart of this technique.   An example can be given from the latest Woody Allen film, “Whatever Works.”  In this film, a genius man who pontificates about everything, summing up essentially that everything goes.  He marries a girl the age of his daughter (if he had one) whose mother and father are Bible believing Christians.  The girl’s father leaves his wife for another woman, and later becomes part of a homosexual couple.  The girl’s mother is an alcoholic who discovers herself in her photography, becomes a bohemian type and shares an apartment and her bed with two other men.  All the while the Bible and Christianity are disparaged.  These films always show Bible believing Christians as part of the fringe society, and uncommitted to the Christian faith.  

Although these techniques look simplistic, the fact that advertising companies spend millions every year proves their effectiveness.  Many of the “Christian” magazine and journals are controlled by radical and even atheists who use these techniques against the Bible believing Christian faith, so care must be expended when reading any of these types of magazines or Journals.  They have also gained a foothold in a wide range of churches and institutions by using these propaganda techniques.

To counter and expose propaganda you must ask a series of leading questions, such as: What techniques of propaganda are being used?   To what human interests, desires, fears, etc. are being appealed? Is the propagandist objective, and presenting the whole truth?  How is the Christian faith treated?  These and other questions must be applied by you consciously and consistently to major and minor propaganda attempts in all you see and hear, to build a frame of reference that will gradually imprint itself on your mind.  This way you will become alerted quickly to what is being attempted.  And since repeated exposure to these techniques desensitizes people, it is important that you develop a set of leading questions to analyze this type of conditioning.   When you read a book or see a video, etc., ask yourself questions.  What kind of passage is this I’m reading and what is it telling me is right or true?  What kind of passions come up in your heart and mind when you are exposed to these media outlets and printed story descriptions?  Do they help you become a better, more Christ like and mature person?  It is best that you develop your own set of questions that fit your situation.

The best approach in helping one caught up in one of these propaganda traps is to lovingly inform them about their situation, and to admonish them through emphasizing the Biblical standards for Christian behavior.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 11, 2013 10:59 am

    Thank you for your input! It is very appreciated. My husband and I are presently involved in writing both books and blogs. You can visit his relatively new site at http://www.BlogAboutGod.com. There his focus is on the Prophets and Prophecy primarily. I am presently writing an apologetic book concerning deceptive practices that has entered into the Church. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

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