Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 16, 1961
NUMBER 40, PAGE 2,14a

Poll Propaganda And Promoting Projects

Hoyt H. Houchen, Abilene, Texas

Poll propaganda can, and often does have great influence upon people during a campaign. Its effect upon voters is realized by leaders in a political campaign. Our senator from Texas, just a few days before the election, stated that a land slide appeared to be in the making for him and his running mate. In that election there can be little doubt that a report of the polls as to what percentage of the American people favored a particular candidate had some influence upon those who cast their ballots.

Many firms advertise their products by the medium of poll propaganda. If a large percentage of the public are buying a certain brand of tooth-paste, razor blades, or soap, then many people are influenced by such advertisements and to be on the popular side they will buy that product. If it should be advertised that seventy five percent of the American people are eating a certain brand of oleomargarine, then we can be quite sure that a large number of customers are going to purchase that brand of "oleo." If that many people are eating it, they want to eat it too!

One of the factors that is a major consideration by the promoters of the Billy Graham campaigns is the popularity propaganda feature. The newspapers not only feature the contents of Graham's messages, but they usually report an estimate of how many people heard him. The size of the audience, when reported, has its part in influencing people to hear Billy Graham, and this his promoters well know.

The "get on the band wagon," "everybody's doing it," and "we're on the march," propaganda is noticeably used by our brethren who are promoting their projects. Unable to find scriptures that will justify their promotions, they find other endeavors more effective in producing their desired results. A superintendent of one of the church supported benevolent homes here in Texas told a — girl, Who tat that time was in the home, that only a handful of preachers are in opposition to such promoted projects. Of course, if he would do some observing, he might be surprised to learn that scores of preachers and other brethren are in opposition to these promotions; but whether the opposition is small or large does not prove that it is scriptural for churches to support these institutions out of their treasuries. But such statements as his make good propaganda because many people are influenced by what the majority does and they want to be on "the winning side." These brethren find it much simpler to ridicule, brand with prejudicial terms, and relegate those of us who oppose 'their unscriptural promotions to "a very small opposition that does not amount to anything," than to find the passage of scripture that will justify their enterprises.

The popular poll propaganda is nothing new, for when Nehemiah and the other Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Sanballat their enemy was angry and he spoke to his brethren and the army of Samaria: "What are these feeble Jews doing? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned?" Tobiah, who was with him, said: "Even that which they are building, if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall." (Neh. 4:2,3)

But why is the propaganda that the majority favors a campaign or is "going along" so effective? Although some of us are not swayed by such hullabaloo, why is it effective upon- so many? The reason is that most people will judge the merit of a product, a campaign, or a promotion by the criterion that it is right because the majority does it or believes in it. But the majority has often been wrong in its opinion of matters. The consensus of the vast majority in Noah's day was contrary to what Noah preached. The flood came in spite of what the majority believed. It was the majority that crucified Jesus Christ. The majority of the-world today has embraced religions that are contrary to Christianity.

Large numbers are too often predominate in the minds of brethren. While we should be interested in as many people obeying the truth as possible, and worshipping and living acceptably, God has never stressed numbers as the means of accomplishing his purpose. Brethren will often emphasize numbers rather than spiritual growth. They need to realize that the Lord is pleased with brethren who are faithful, devoted to the truth, stedfast, loyal, and resolved to please him, though they be few in number, than a great host, a vast majority who are weak, compromising soft, sentimental and going along with the crowd. These brethren stand for little and they fall for everything; they are the kind who are being swept away by the tide of digression. Gideon had an army of 32,000 but when God had finished with his test, there were 300 who with God's help defeated the Midianites.

But if we should be concerned about numbers, then we can increase our numbers without too much difficulty. Any congregation throughout the land can be swelled in numbers if it will provide entertainment, hire professional soloists and choirs, provide bowling alleys, ping pong tables, and basketball courts. Why go to the trouble of providing a church supported youth camp out in the mountains somewhere, when these recreational facilities could be provided adjacent to the church buildings? If this is the work of the church, this work can be facilitated by providing it close to the buildings and not so many miles in distance. It is needless to point out that some of this is already being done. Youth directors are hired, "fellowship halls" are erected, and this writer saw basketball courts adjacent to the auditorium of the building of the church of Christ (Uptown) in Long Beach, California. It is no problem to obtain numbers, if they are necessary to building up the church. Churches are hiring preachers to preach "sermonettes" and they are advertising by sensational methods to draw the crowds. The story is told about a preacher in the Christian Church who advertised to the people that if they would come back to hear him preach he would show them something that they had never seen before and that they would never see again. The news was spread and there was a "packed house" to see this "pulpit special." The preacher, keeping his promise, took a peanut out of the shell and ate it. The people saw something that they had never seen before and that they would never see again! When we see the sensational subjects and circus billboard type advertising being used by our promoting brethren, we are easily led to believe that the denominations have nothing on us when it comes to the "spectaculars." Lovely, beautiful, and emotional sermons that have their appeal to the spineless and sentimental will not build up the church, but they will destroy the strength of any church where they are allowed. The throngs of people who are drawn by such preaching and by meals and entertainment are worthless to the church. As one gospel preacher well expressed it, "people who are served iced tea, fried chicken, and ice cream by the church are as weak as the tea they drink, as dead as the chicken and as cold as the ice cream that they eat." The church never has been and never will be built spiritually strong by the soft, diluted, watered down type of preaching that is pervading it today.

The strength-giving factors of a church are not popular with the polls. They do not appeal to the majority but they are pleasing to God and that is what matters to those whose desire is to please him. There is no substitute for plain, forthright gospel preaching. It will get the job done what God wants done. (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 22; Gal. 6:14) When there is an absolute, determined, unswerving loyalty to God's word (2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Tim. 4:1-3; Tit. S:1; Jude 3; 1 Jno. 4:1; Rev. 2:2) true worship (Jno. 4:24) and faithful living, (Matt. 5:13, 14; Tit. 2:11, 12) on the part of every member of the church, the church may not win a popularity contest or a poll count with the world and among the weak within the church, but it will be pure and spotless and will be claimed by the Lord when he comes the second time. (Eph. 5:25-27)