Volume. XXXIV, No. 30
Sunday, 26 January 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Truth and Propaganda – Part 2

As I am thinking of the issues of truth and propaganda, I cannot but think of many activist groups that agitate the general public to stand up for their causes to put pressures on governments, policy makers, mass media and social networks, business groups, courts (yes, they want to influence judges), social services, religious organizations, schools, public services, well-known individuals including scholars, athletes, or entertainers, and many more (you name it).  They are smart enough to know that they should mobilise the people to bring their issues to the centre stage for everybody’s approval.  There are people who do not know about such issues, people who really do not care about them at all, people who have not decided their minds yet, or people who share the same concerns but have been inactive.  By pounding them with repeated slogans [repetition is the key here to sensitise or desensitise the public] and emotional appeals, they attempt to bring people to their side.  What they want is to lead the public opinions for their advantage.  Usually, if there are tragic events related to their issues, they find it easier to appeal for their causes to the empathised people, who have not been on their side before.  Or at least, they find opportunities to mitigate the strength of oppositions against their causes, even if they are not successfully able to silence them completely. 

In recent years, the two most aggressive groups are probably of LGBTQIA + (I just added “+” sign to the already long “LGBTQI,” because I am not sure how many more letters they want to add to it in the coming years) and climate change movement.  Legalized gay marriage was a hot issue till the time of the referendum, and as far as I remember, all the major mass media had bombarded our minds with pro-gay marriage reports from academia, entertainers, and liberal politicians, and they either ridiculed or despised any negative comment against it.  If someone were in favour of it, then he was praised as progressive and trendy.  If not, he was not welcomed.  I felt that the news media had promoted their already-made conclusion.  It reminds us of the responsibility of media as a public opinion leading body.  The media gave us not facts, but their preconceived ideas, which was a form of propaganda, at least in my opinion.  Interestingly, LGBTQI+ movement used a catch phrase, “marriage equality,” which sounds a lot different from Lesbian-gay… vocabularies.  This slogan, “marriage equality,” is emotional and powerful enough to sway or convince the minds of the people to approve, if not, advocate homosexual marriage.  “Safe School Program” sounds very agreeable, but it’s purpose is to bring LGBTQI+ into our children’s school curriculum alongside good material.  This movement is excellent in using slogans and mobilising their people for their movement, and it makes people very emotional, which is a typical characteristic of propaganda.  People respond to their emotions far better and quicker than to their reason.        

Another heavy weight issue in recent years and days (especially since November last year when the bushfire epidemic started) is climate change.  The magnitude of the destructions by fire is beyond our comprehension.  The photos of dead animals terrify us, and stories about victims genuinely break our hearts and minds.  Tears come down our cheeks when we see photos of little children who just lost their beloved fathers bravely fighting fires to save lives and properties.  There is no-one who says that the climate has not been changed.  Wherever I go, people tell me that the weather patterns in their regions have changed.  Even deniers of climate change do not argue that something is different today from before in terms of weather conditions.  If there is any difference between climate change activists and less enthusiastic groups, probably it is about how to respond to these changes.  Greta Thunberg’s name is everywhere, and her every word is repeated by her admirers and again mass-media.  In the midst of the rage of bush fire, climate change activists blame the government and non-participants of the movement for fire.  Slowly but surely, we began to hear that the bushfires are caused by climate change.  Thus, while firefighters are fighting the dangerous fires at the risk of their lives, climate change activists organize protests and politicians politicise the fire epidemic for their advantages.  Bushfire epidemics became the face of the climate change movement.  At this present moment, in my opinion, our minds are buried with anger and frustration over the devastating effects of bush fires.  Any voice that may put any shade on the light of climate change movement is ridiculed and shunned.  There are reasonable voices to talk about strategies and plans to prevent the same tragedies from repeating.  These voices are not heard well at the moment.  Politicians, lobby groups, and activist groups have successfully jumped into the flow, and I think that it will be the key issue for the next election.  All other issues are sunken into nobody’s land.  In my opinion, the real issue is lost somewhere, and only propaganda from interest groups gains momentum everywhere. 

Brunhilde Pomsel was Joseph Goebbels’ secretary.  Please do not think that I am equating the above mentioned movements with the Nazis.  I am simply using Nazi Germany to talk about the dangers of propaganda.  Joseph Goebbels was a minister of propaganda under Hitler.  A National Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was created for him, and he became president of the newly formed “Chamber of Culture.”  In this capacity he controlled, besides propaganda as such, the press, radio, theatre, films, literature, music, and the fine arts.  Pomsel eye-witnessed the power of propaganda. This is how she described Goebbels: “No actor could have been any better at the transformation from a civilised, serious person into a ranting, rowdy man … In the office he had a kind of noble elegance, and then to see him there like a raging midget – you just can’t imagine a greater contrast.”

She continued to say, “Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis – I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldn’t have.”  After the rise of the Nazi party, “the whole country was as if under a kind of a spell,” she insists.  It is the power of propaganda. 

Historian Karl Dietrich Bracher argued that the success of Nazi ideology can only be understood via the role of propaganda in the Third Reich.  The Nazis’ modern techniques of opinion-formation in order to create a “truly religio-psychological phenomenon” made the propaganda especially powerful.  Joseph Goebbels once said: “There are two ways to make a revolution.  You can blast your enemy with machine guns until he acknowledges the superiority of those holding the machine guns.  That is one way.  Or you can transform the nation through a revolution of the spirit …” [At this point, please pardon me that I failed to give you bibliography here.  I forgot to record it when I copied the “quotes”].   

The Nazis claimed “we did not lose the war because artillery gave out but because the weapons of our minds did not fire” (Corey Ross, Media and the Making of Modern Germany, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).  Aristotle A. Kallis said that propaganda is a form of truth “reshaped through the lens of regime intentions” (Propaganda and the Second World War, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000).  Propaganda manipulates our minds.  Robert O. Paxton says, “Another core part of Nazi grand theory was the dethronement of reason and the celebration of emotion.  Nazism felt rather than thought, and therefore the nature of its propaganda appeal was also to feeling rather than thinking.  The mobilization of emotion lay at the heart of everything the Nazis did; propaganda’s operational formula.  For Goebbels, the role of the propagandist was to express in words what his audience felt in their hearts (The Anatomy of Fascism, London: Allen Lane, 2004).  False prophets and teachers are masters of propaganda in biblical history, too.  I’ll write of its relevance to us next time.   


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Deepest condolences to Sis Judy Dunne & family on the homegoing of her sister.
  • Bro Raymond Ang & family expressed their gratitude to all Hopefuls for their care, concern & prayers during the time of grief.
  • Lively Hope Team would like to remind all Hopefuls that all announcements & appointments for the week NEED to be submitted by Thursday.
  • Easter Family Bible Camp – those willing to serve in the committee please inform Dn Kevin Low or Bro Edy Lok.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Neighbourhood Groups. Next week: Volunteers.


Looking Ahead

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


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Batam Missions – fruitful ministry there.
  • Working Bee
  • Journey mercies: Phnom Penh Missions Team: Pastor David Weng, Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); others afflicted by sicknesses.
  • God’s comfort in grief: those who lost their loved ones.
  • Bushfire crises across the country - Comfort for families of victims & those affected; firefighters, government officials & others fighting & managing the crises.
  • Missions – Rev Sun Sokha & ministry; Air conditioners for Faith Krang Angkrang Church (Phnom Penh).
  • Missions Trip: Phnom Penh Team (24 Jan – 6 Feb): Pastor David Weng, Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee, and others.
  • Journey mercies: Missions Teams (S’pore/Adl); others who are travelling.





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