The cover of the February 2022 Tomorrow’s World magazine highlights Mr. Wallace Smith’s article “The Credibility Crisis.” The gentleman on the cover is Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to both sitting U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Dr. Fauci has certainly become a household name, and he provides an ideal example of the current credibility crisis. Depending on what news or social media source you read, he’s either a savior who has done no wrong or a villain who is destroying the United States—maybe even the whole world. The article explains that we are indeed facing a credibility crisis, and that it’s very difficult to find a credible source we can trust to relate the full truth of a matter.
Propaganda is defined by AHDictionary.com as “the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.” The information that is propagated fits the agenda of the organization propagating it—and it’s important to understand that this is not just a modern-day issue. This credibility crisis is not new. Who is the one ultimately responsible for pushing misinformation, spreading half-truths, and eliminating important facts from a particular narrative in order to paint a picture different from the reality of an issue?
The answer to that question, when we think about it from a biblical perspective, is quite obvious—and it’s not CNN. When we look at the credibility crisis and we see the confusion in the world today, we should know that Satan the devil is ultimately the one behind it. He uses CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and other news outlets, but he is ultimately the one propagating the confusion.
And, in fact, false and twisted information existed long before news outlets and social media. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is replete with examples of propaganda being used to destroy people’s reputations and lives. Let’s examine how Satan has used propaganda throughout biblical history in his attempts to disrupt the Work of God and destroy God’s people, and then take a look at a more recent example of how our adversary can use propaganda to influence entire nations.
Propaganda in the Old Testament
Satan used propaganda and misinformation in Eden. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” (Genesis 3:1). Satan sowed a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind, causing confusion right from the beginning. That’s how he operates.
“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die’” (vv. 2–4). That was a half-truth, in that Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead the moment they took of the fruit of that tree—but what Satan neglected to tell them was that the decision would bring them under the death penalty. Satan’s agenda was, I want to destroy these individuals. The narrative he gave them was mixed with half-truths, misinformation, and outright lies in order to deceive them and achieve his agenda.
Then Satan began to slander the one, true source of truth, and we hear such slander in our media today, too. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). Satan wanted Adam and Eve to look at God and say, I don’t trust You, so he slandered God’s credibility. Notice the result: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (v. 6).
We see another example in 2 Samuel 15. When Absalom’s half-brother Amnon raped his sister Tamar, and their father King David failed to punish Amnon, Absalom began a propaganda campaign to discredit his father.
In those times, there was no newspaper circulating around the country. Information and rumors circulated at the city gate, where people were coming and going. It was the perfect place for Absalom to peddle his propaganda: “Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, ‘What city are you from?’ And he would say, ‘Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel’” (2 Samuel 15:1–2).
Absalom endeared himself to the public. Oh, you’re from Zebulun? That’s wonderful! I took a vacation there a few years ago—it was beautiful! I just love Zebulun! He would “butter up” these individuals and come across as a really nice guy. “Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.’ Moreover, Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice’” (vv. 3–4).
Absalom was sowing seeds of doubt that would make people think, Yeah, why isn’t King David sending more people to listen to us? King David must not care about us. The next verses spell out Absalom’s agenda plainly: “And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (vv. 5–6).
Many people, because they didn’t see the agenda at the time, fell for Absalom’s propaganda—which led them to support a rebellion. Truly, propaganda can achieve disastrous results. Satan comes to us as an angel of light, and while we may not see him at the scene of the crime here, we see his fingerprints everywhere.
Propaganda in the New Testament
Propaganda was even used against Jesus Christ. In Matthew 11:19, Jesus said, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Who was pushing the narrative that Christ was a drunkard, that He was a glutton? The religious leadership of the time. What was their agenda? We need to discredit this guy, because he’s doing some miracles we can’t dispute, and if the people start accepting him, we’re going to lose our authority and our prestige.
So, in order to combat that, they started releasing misinformation about Him that circulated throughout Judea. Oh, I saw that Jesus character down two bottles of wine, you know. I saw him eating, and that guy had like, four or five helpings. He was just gorging himself.
And then there were the half-truths, such as, He’s a friend of tax collectors and sinners. Was Jesus surrounded by sinners? Of course. But was He condoning their sinful actions, or hanging out with them for sinful pleasure? No, He was not. In fact, as a way of life, He was hanging out with His disciples most of the time. Again, the information that was circulated fit the agenda of those propagating it—in this case, the agenda to destroy the credibility of Jesus and ultimately destroy Him entirely. Even our Savior had to face propaganda.
From Genesis to Revelation, we find many examples of propaganda in the Bible. We will look at just one more example of this common theme in biblical history. “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). There were obvious signs that this faithful man was speaking the truth and preaching the Gospel, but some people didn’t like it. “Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (vv. 9–10). When someone is speaking uncomfortable truth, we always have the option to agree, but human nature often resists going down that road. Rather, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
The men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen began to be hostile to the truth. What was their grievance? This fella Stephen, he’s speaking the truth, and we can’t prove him wrong. We’re going to lose our followers—people aren’t going to listen to us as heads of the synagogue anymore. In Acts 6:11, “they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’”
An agenda was formed, propaganda was released, and “they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us’” (vv. 12–14).
This was a mixture of half-truths, mistruths, and outright lies, and Stephen was ultimately executed because of the propaganda launched against him. Stephen’s enemies weren’t trying to uncover true information to get to the bottom of what he was saying; their agenda was to get rid of a man they considered a threat, regardless of whether he was speaking the truth.
The Power of Propaganda
In our modern age, Satan-influenced propaganda manifested itself in twentieth-century Germany in the horrifying form of Nazi anti-Semitism. In the Nazi government, Joseph Goebbels held the title “Reichminister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.” How did he “enlighten” people? By telling them of an Aryan race, supposedly the “master race” to which many Germans belonged, and by telling them that the Jewish people were mortal enemies of that race. Long before he became Führer, Adolf Hitler wrote in 1924 that propaganda’s “task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly” (“Nazi Propaganda,” The Holocaust Encyclopedia, USHMM.org).
What was the Nazi agenda? On the surface, it was to increase the prestige and glory of Germany, which had been totally tarnished by World War I when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. But Hitler’s ultimate agenda was to destroy the Jews across Europe, as he acknowledged in 1925 in his book Mein Kampf, which he wrote in prison before gaining power: “The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew.”
The propaganda that the Nazis spread stoked the fires and fanned the flames of anti-Semitism, a bias sustained by the adversary since ancient times. Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Step by step, he staged and/or manipulated events to gain more and more power. Within three months, Jews were being legislated out of the civil service and public schools. Within 18 months, anyone who could potentially oppose him or threaten his power was arrested. Scores were executed.
Anti-Semitic propaganda took many forms and was widely disseminated by every possible means, including rallies, radio, the film industry, and the arts. Behind it all was a message: This is a war, and if we don’t exterminate the Jews first, they will exterminate us. Every effort was made to spread the message that Jewish people—human beings made in the image of God—were less than animals and worse than demons.
It might be easy for us today to recognize such malicious propaganda for what it is, but audiences of the time did not have the benefit of hindsight, nor were they grounded in the only truth that can protect us from error. Propaganda is a powerful tool of Satan the devil.
Propaganda in the Future
Matthew 24:9 reads, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” How will Satan bring the world to the point where it hates God’s people?
The answer, of course, is propaganda. All those people in the Church of God are so full of hate. They don’t support LGBTQ rights. They don’t support a woman’s right to choose abortion. They don’t even do their civic duty and vote. What’s their problem? Why don’t they love people? Those people are evil. They’re even saying that our nation is going down the drain—those people aren’t patriotic. Those people are against us.
This attitude is something we need to expect at some time in the future, because it will lead to the persecution of God’s people. Ultimately, it will reach the point where Satan himself will inspire the beast and the false prophet, and all the world will follow their system. And if we’re not part of that system, we’ll be considered evil.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:23–24). We’ll see incredible cunning and deceit in the years ahead. Satan’s greatest propaganda campaign is yet to occur, and we need to be alert to it. We need to be aware that Satan’s endgame is to destroy God’s people, and he will use propaganda in his attempts to achieve that result.
This is a crucial point: Knowing the agenda of an individual, news outlet, or organization is vital to understanding the information being discussed. If we misread the agenda, we’ll be misled. For example, if President Biden has said something questionable, CNN is probably going to sugarcoat it—make it sound the best it can—while Fox News will fan the flames of criticism to magnify even his slightest stumble. Conversely, during Donald Trump’s presidency, Fox News would be hard-pressed to find fault with his actions—the same actions for which CNN labeled him a lunatic and racist. The information a media outlet presents inevitably fits its narrative.
So, we must examine the agenda behind any source to which we look for information. Before reading a book or an article, ask, Who is the author? Where did the author grow up? What’s the author’s outlook on life? Does the author believe in God? Not everything an atheist author writes will be wrong, but we must ask such questions and be aware that every individual or news outlet will be pushing a particular bias. When we recognize that bias, we can more accurately sift through the half-truths and misinformation we come across.
The way to avoid being deceived is to stay close to Almighty God and to read sources we can trust, such as material from God’s true ministry. The one source of truth is not CNN, not Fox News, and not any social media outlet—the one source of truth is God’s word. So, keep your nose in that word, keep watching world events, and be aware of Satan, the chief propagandist, who wants to destroy God’s Work and His people.