If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I would have one-third of the real estate and four-fifths of the population , but I wouldn’t be happy until I had the ripest apple on the tree. 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 youth I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man made God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is “square.” In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. And to the old I would teach to pray after me: “Our Father, who art in Washington…” And then I’d get organized; I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that everything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten television 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’d encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions: let those run wild. Before you know 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. With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to do what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography. I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I’d get the preachers to say, “She’s right.” Thus, 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, girls, and church money. If I were the Devil I would 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 it to those who want it, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. What’ll you bet that 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, and in moral conduct. I would convince the youth that marriage is old-fashioned, but swinging is more fun; that what you see on television is the way to be; and thus I could undress you in public and I could lure you into bed where there are diseases for which there is no cure. Then I would separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps. In other words, if I were the Devil…I’d just keep doing what he’s doing.
Written and aired by Paul Harvey on his News and Comment program many years ago, the preceding was recompiled and edited in the following form by Scott Wiggins.