Part of evangelism is the use of propaganda to stimulate the growth of the evangelical ideology. They will refer to this as "spiritual warfare". Many of us are used to seeing religious tracts and videos on youtube and the like.
What's interesting about the propaganda used by evangelists, is since they are at war with the world, since they have this "us or them" attitude, they use even "wartime" types of propaganda, let us look at the types of propaganda and how that reflects in the evangelical context.
The types of propaganda used by evangelistsEdit
Assertion is commonly used in advertising and modern propaganda. An assertion is an enthusiastic or energetic statement presented as a fact, although it is not necessarily true. They often imply that the statement requires no explanation or back up, but that it should merely be accepted without question.
Assertions in the evangelical contexts are often seen, since the evangelist wishes you to accept on faith all of his claims using circular reasoning. That is "God is good, the bible comes from God and therefore the bible is truth".
The same can be said about creationism, as this pseudo-science, is often requested to be accepted on faith and on closer analysis of the claims, are found to be false, or the "experts" are lacking in their competence.
Bandwagon is an appeal to the subject to follow the crowd, to join in because others are doing so as well. Bandwagon propaganda is, essentially, trying to convince the subject that one side is the winning side, because more people have joined it. The subject is meant to believe that since so many people have joined, that victory is inevitable and defeat impossible.
For an evangelist, the use of bandwagon, is used at church rallies and revivals. This is to stimulate the sense of group-think and stimulate the confidence of it's members, as it can be used to galvanize a group towards a goal.
Card stacking, involves only presenting information that is positive to an idea or proposal and omitting information contrary to it. Card stacking is used in almost all forms of propaganda, and is extremely effective in convincing the public. Although the majority of information presented by the card stacking approach is true, it is dangerous because it omits important information.
With evangelists, this is combined with quote-mining, the practice of purposely compiling frequently misleading quotes from large volumes of literature or speech. It is effective, as they will try to profit from people's ignorance.
Glittering generalities are words that have different positive meaning for individual subjects, but are linked to highly valued concepts. When these words are used, they demand approval without thinking, simply because such an important concept is involved. For example, when a person is asked to do something in "For the children" they are more likely to agree.
It is a thinly veiled emotional appeal, playing on the fear of not being seen as "part of the mainstream". An evangelist is usually trained to take this fear and turn it into a wedge in which he can pitch his ideology as a method for the individual to "Save face" in front of his peers.
Lesser of Two Evils:Edit
The "lesser of two evils" technique tries to convince us of an idea or proposal by presenting it as the least offensive option. This technique is often implemented during wartime to convince people of the need for sacrifices or to justify difficult decisions. This technique is often accompanied by adding blame on an enemy country or political group. One idea or proposal is often depicted as one of the only options or paths.
In the case for evangelism, they blame the fall of Adam as the opposition to blame and combine it with Pascal's wager.
It is the use of derogatory language or words that carry a negative connotation when describing an opposing faction. The propaganda attempts to arouse prejudice among the public by labeling the target something that the public dislikes. Often, name calling is employed using sarcasm and ridicule, or in arguments in which the faction is depicted as a grotesque caricature of what it truly is.
The evangelist, uses this often in open-air ministry. This is used to generate crowds. And to stimulate opposition. On one-to-one evangelism, especially confrontational evangelism, this is also used to stimulate an emotional imbalance, thus giving opportunity for the evangelist to gain a foothold.
Pinpointing the Enemy:Edit
This is an attempt to simplify a complex situation by presenting one specific group or person as the enemy. Although there may be other factors involved the subject is urged to simply view the situation in terms of clear-cut right and wrong.
The most classic example of this in the evangelical context, is when Reverend Jerry Falwell along Pat Robertson, blamed 9/11 on "pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
While the terrorist attack was performed by the lunatic fringe of Islam, Falwell tried to use this as a way to stab hard at the opposition he faced during his lifetime on this continent.
The plain folks device is an attempt by the propagandist to convince the public that his views reflect those of the common person and that they are also working for the benefit of the common person.
The propagandist will often attempt to use the accent of a specific audience as well as using specific idioms or jokes. Also, the propagandist, especially during speeches, may attempt to increase the illusion through imperfect pronunciation, stuttering, and a more limited vocabulary. Errors such as these help add to the impression of sincerity and spontaneity.
This technique is usually most effective when used with glittering generalities, in an attempt to convince the public that the propagandist views about highly valued ideas are similar to their own and therefore more valid.
Often, an evangelist will use the line "I used to be as you were, a *atheist/unbeliever/GLBIT*, they will try to make it sound that they were in a same position, and even try to pitch that your current situation is wrong. One should be especially cautious with this approach.
Simplification is extremely similar to pinpointing the enemy, in that it often reduces a complex situation to a clear-cut choice involving good and evil. This technique is often useful in swaying uneducated audiences.
Evangelists, hate educated people because of this, since they will see clearly through that technique. They will often repeat the lies and misinformation ad nauseum in hopes to impress the idea as common knowledge. The best way to counter this, is to have venues to inform the general public of the facts. With the Internet, evangelists find it harder and harder to find an uneducated crowd or a crowd that doesn't have access to information.
Still, they have retaliated with sites with a "Christian bias". One should be especially cautious and should always demand for the source of their information.
Testimonials are quotations or endorsements, in or out of context, which attempt to connect a famous or respectable person with a product or item. Testimonials are very closely connected to the transfer technique, in that an attempt is made to connect an agreeable person to another item.
The testimonial is also one of the most commonly used techniques by evangelism. They simply tell you how they came across their "Born-again experience" and "pitch for the sale" that way. You can find an example of "testimonies" on right about any Christian site, so learning the nature of them isn't too hard.
When confronted with it, shrug it off, as it's goal is merely to sway you to their view point.
Transfer is an attempt to make the subject view a certain item in the same way as they view another item, to link the two in the subjects mind. Although this technique is often used to transfer negative feelings for one object to another, it can also be used in positive ways. By linking an item to something the subject respects or enjoys, positive feelings can be generated for it.
Evangelists, will often use it in both positive and negative aspects. Here are some examples...
- "God is my rock"
- "Lamb of God"
- "lion of Judah"
- "Sodomite" (when referring to GBLIT's. Invoking the story of Sodom and Gommorah)
- "Pearls before swine" (Implying the opposition are swine)
- "Painted Jezebel" (speaking of women who do not adhere to the evangelical ideology)