Volume. XXXIV, No. 29
Sunday, 19 January 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Truth and Propaganda

This is a subject that has been on my mind for a very long time.  Both truth and propaganda use “words” and “speeches” as their channels to persuade the general public, and I have felt that there is asymmetry in their end results in the short term.  I have used three particular words here: asymmetry, end results, and short term.  It is because the results of using “truth” and “propaganda” in the short term could be very different from their counterparts in the long term.  The reason I use the word “asymmetry” is because in the short term, speaking the “truth” and using “propaganda” to persuade the people could produce unfair, unjust, and imbalanced results.  For sure, there is an element of disparity in truth and propaganda. 


Merriam-Webster English Dictionary defines “propaganda” as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person,” or “ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause.” 


Britannica Encyclopedia offers more comprehensive explanations of “propaganda.”  It says that propaganda means “dissemination of information – facts, argument, rumours, half-truths, or lies to influence public opinion.”  Propaganda “is the more or less systematic effort to manipulate other people’s beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols (words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles, designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth).  Deliberateness and a relatively heavy emphasis on manipulation distinguish propaganda from casual conversation or the free and easy exchange of ideas.  Propagandists have a specified goal or set of goals.  To achieve these, they deliberately select facts, arguments, and displays of symbols and present them in ways they think will have the most effect.  To maximize effect, they may omit or distort pertinent facts or simply lie, and they may try to divert the attention of the reactors (the people they are trying to sway) from everything but their own propaganda.” 


From the definitions and explanations in the above, we can find a few ingredients of “propaganda.”  (1) It is to disseminate information.  (2) Its purpose is to influence public opinion.  (3) It uses manipulation to persuade the people to follow the suggested opinion, attitude, or action.  (4) It is a deliberate act.  (5) It has a specified goal or set of goals.  (6) It uses selective facts, arguments, and even lies to attain to its goal.  Omission or distortion could be a means of propaganda.  (7) It could aim to hurt or harm someone, something, or some establishments.  One good example could be found from the crucifixion of Jesus.  A few leaders instigated the people and manipulated them to cry out for the crucifixion of Christ.  When the Roman guards came to them to report what had happened to the body of Christ, they also lied and circulated false rumours to discredit the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. 


We all know that the Nazi’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda deceptively misled the people by discrediting the Nazis’ atrocity stories and stirring up the people to be united behind hatred to the Jews.  Politicians are experts of propaganda.  They make people believe and break promises.  By sugar coating their lies, they are elected, but they do not intend to keep their promises.  Communism has flourished through propagandism.  Propaganda is associated with the term, agitation.  Vladimir Ilich Lenin defined “propaganda” in a pamphlet, What Is to Be Done?, as “the reasoned use of historical and scientific arguments to indoctrinate the educated and enlightened (the attentive and informed publics, in the language of today’s social sciences); he defined “agitation” as the use of slogans, parables, and half-truths to exploit the grievances of the uneducated and the unreasonable” (“propaganda,” Britannica Encyclopedia).  Propaganda has been used for psychological warfare, brainwashing tactics, and in advertising.


People easily fall into the traps of propaganda, and their emotions are stirred up to the extent that their reason becomes susceptible to yield to half-truths, which are, in fact, lies, and they are fully persuaded. 


In contrast, what about truth?  Noah Webster’s 1828 English Dictionary defines “truth” as (1) Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be, (2) True state of facts or things, (3) Conformity of words to thoughts, which is called moral truth, and (4) Veracity; purity from falsehood.  These definitions of the word, “truth,” qualify it to be a counterpart of “propaganda.”  Truth is good because it is pure and veracious.  Lies are not permitted, and truth speaks of facts.  Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free?” (John 8:32).  Then, isn’t it true that truth is better, and thus truth must be more powerful than propaganda?  It is a good question.  I would say that truth will prevail at the end, but it does not mean that truth brings victories every time when it engages itself to fight against lies and propaganda for evil.  As we saw before, Jesus was thrown into the hands of the evil ones and crucified.  For a short time, the Jewish propaganda appeared to have the upper hand and to win the conflict with Jesus and His disciples, but we know that it is not true. 


Then, why does truth fail to bring victory over false propagandas in the short term?  Isn’t it a proof that truth is weak and defenceless?  The primary reason why truth does not prevail from the beginning in conflicts with propagandists is that truth must present all the evidence and prove its veracity.  Think about the incident in Ephesus in Acts 19:23-41.  Paul’s evangelism in the city drew oppositions from the idol makers whose businesses were threatened.  Thus, they stirred up the people to oppose him.  The convinced crowd rushed to find Paul probably to harm him.  Verse 32 says, “Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.”  They were against Paul even without knowing the reason why.  It is the power of propaganda.  If they were seekers of truth, they probably would have wanted to examine the evidence and to prove that they were right or wrong first. 


In order to collect and evaluate proper evidence, it is necessary to spend time.  Nonetheless, people do not wait but want immediate answers or actions.  When Jesus was tried before Pilate, the latter said to the accusers of Jesus in Luke 23:22, “And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.”  The evidence said, “Jesus is not guilty,” which is truth.  The people said, “crucify Him,” which is the end result of propaganda.  The chief priests and elders conspired against Jesus and agreed to put Him to death (Matthew 27:1).  Then, they persuaded the people to take sides with them (Matthew 27:20-23).  


On a functional level, what is the tool that propagandists use to bring victories to themselves?  It is none other than manipulation.  A manipulator is a person who controls others by artful or unfair means to serve their purposes.  In other words, a manipulator controls others to do what he wants to do.  It works in the business world.  A manipulator takes advantage of other people.  In the Lord’s ministry, there is no place for manipulation.  My conscience is clean on this matter.  A manipulator is often a propagandist too.  God forbid!  To us, yea is yea, and nay is nay.  May the Lord keep us from the sins of the world!  I’ll probably continue…



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Deepest condolences to Bro Raymond Ang & his family on the homegoing of his father on Tuesday.
  • Easter Family Bible Camp – those willing to serve in the committee please inform Dn Kevin Low or Bro Edy Lok.
  • Working Bee this Saturday followed by lunch. There is always something to do. Please come & help clean our church premises & have a great fellowship time.
  • Please observe all parking signs. DO NOT park on council land, nor let your vehicle protrude into council land even when parking on our church parking lot. Council is very strict & fines apply. If unclear, please ask the ushers and/ or welcomers.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Next week: Neighbourhood Groups.


Looking Ahead

  • Easter Family Bible Camp, Fri - Mon, 10 – 13 Apr.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • WoH Family Picnic
  • Firefighters, health care workers and volunteers in the bushfires across the country; their safety & wellbeing.
  • Journey mercies: Batam Missions Team: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee,  Bro Raphael Ng and others  (Batam); others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others afflicted by illnesses.
  • Bushfire crises across the country - Comfort for families of victims & those affected; firefighters, government officials & others fighting & managing the crises.
  • Missions – Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Filadelfia BP Church, orphanage, kindergarten & primary school (Batam); Air conditioners for worship area of Faith Krang Angkrang Church (PhnomPenh).
  • Missions Trips: Batam Team (16-22 Jan): Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee, Bro Raphael Ng and others - Phnom Penh Team (24 Jan-6 Feb): Pastor David Weng, Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee, and others.
  • Journey mercies: Phnom Penh Missions Team (Phnom Penh); Batam Missions Team (S’pore/Adl); others who are travelling.




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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041