Propaganda 101: I.Q. TEST (Living Waters Tract #209)

This little gem is published by Living Waters Publications and portrays a very simple, albeit headache inducing, visual phenomena that involves the way that the brain processes glyphs. The front has a highly stylized word that may take a few moments to decipher.

“The answer is ‘Eternal Life’ (‘Eternal’ is hidden in the ‘L’ of Life—see Romans 6:23).” I guess it is, as you can see in the scan of the card the actual word hidden on the inner curve of what is an “L” upside-down and an “h” if oriented otherwise. We have to trust the message on the back as to what exactly those blobs say, their font is so small that they greek into the ink bleed. Does this mean that it reads “Death Lanrete” when right side-up?

Then the propaganda starts.

First, the reader is subjected to what in propaganda jargon could be called a “framing sentence.” The point of this is to set the frame of mind of the reader to the singular context that the propagandist wants: “Here is another intelligence test.”

What follows isn’t exactly what it says on the tin.

“Answer Yes or No OUT LOUD: 1/ Is there a God? 2/ Does God care about right and wrong? 3/ Are God’s standards the same as ours? 4/ Will God punish sin? 5/ Is there a Hell? 6/ Do you avoid Hell by living a good life?”

At this point the savvy reader will realize that this is not a test of intelligence. It’s not even a proper test of knowledge. It is a memory test for the particular dogma of the Living Waters Publications editor who prepared this text. A person who answers most of these differently than the answers given immediately afterwards is no more or less intelligent than anyone else for their answers.

Here the propaganda makes the assumption that the reader knows what it’s talking about. It’s reaching out to someone who is culturally Christian. Mostly in the phrase “Is there a God?” I find myself bemused by the phrase. It’s a lot like saying, “Is there an Elaine?” The question is pandering, but only with its capital letter—I guess that “Is there the God?” just doesn’t have the same ring, we just don’t speak that way; and they wanted to avoid saying “Is there a god?” or “Are there gods?” This goes back to pandering to assumed knowledge. A pagan, Hindu, or other polytheist would snicker at this line.

The “correct” answers are, of course, amusing in of themselves. There is a God who cares about right and wrong; but doesn’t have the same “standards” as we do… Invocation of threat of Hell. I understand they’re working under a lot of pressure to fit this 10-point font paragraph onto the back of a business card, but I’m not impressed.

“You can’t afford to be wrong. Find out the truth – ask God to forgive your sins, then trust in Jesus Christ. He took your punishment by dying on the Cross for you. Then He rose from the dead. Read the Bible daily and obey what you read… God will never let you down.”

Another feature of religious propaganda is the use of designed jargon; these are often words coherent only to the culture of the religion. First there’s elements from Christian mythology: the Cross, Jesus Christ, death and resurrection of the former. Then there’s the jargon word “sin” which is only meaningful in the frame already set up based on the assumptions of the Living Waters dogma.

Did anyone else notice that the word “Cross” got a capital? Symbolism and semiotics lay at the heart of a lot of social propaganda but are also central to cultural context. In this case the tract editor is trying to connect with the implied cultural Christianity of the reader by using a shared symbol. It’s not just any mundane crucifix used by the Romans to torture and murder people, no, it’s the specific device used to torture Jesus.

Is it just me who felt their skin crawling when they saw “Read your Bible daily and obey what you read”? Do the people who edit these tracts actually read their Bible? I only have one thing to say to this: What is an Amalekite and if I ever meet one must I really murder him or her? Who in their right mind in this day and age would obey such a command?

Further: Obey? Bob the Angry Flower “Submission Channel” much? SUBMIT. SUBMIT. SUBMIT.

And finally, my favorite part of this review. The very last line of the tract:

“God will never let you down.”

Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

6 thoughts on “Propaganda 101: I.Q. TEST (Living Waters Tract #209)

  1. A BtAF ref! Kudos to you.

    I think this is a great dissection of the kind of religious demagoguery that we so often encounter. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  2. Stop attacking Christianity. Stop attacking Christ, and God. What do you have against love? Are you all so Godless as to ignore life? You attack us and belittle us. You come out to our temples and churches only to lie! You evil filth not worth of salvation. If you wish to keep with the devil then it’s you God given choice to do so. BUT DO NOT THINK YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO LIE AND CORRUPT GOD’S WORDS! You do not, and you will pay for every act against the awesome and infinitely powerful God. MArk my words “atheist” you will pay for it. We are God’s children and we will do what is necessary for his kingdom. My God’s will be shown to you all! Amen.

  3. Stop attacking Christianity. Stop attacking Christ, and God. What do you have against love?

    If this is an attack on anything then it is an attack on the writer of the tract. I think it’s just more of an analysis of the content of a particular tract than anything else, but it does take a little bit of a shot at the Bible’s immorality. Maybe you’d prefer just to ignore that?

    I don’t have anything against love. In fact I think the world needs a lot more of it, but if you think you’ve been showing it then perhaps you need to rethink what love is.

    Are you all so Godless as to ignore life?

    …what does that even mean?

    You attack us and belittle us. You come out to our temples and churches only to lie! You evil filth not worth of salvation.

    Wow, really? When did we ever go to a church or temple to lie? I for one haven’t been to any church for any reason (other than voting in November) in years.

    I don’t physically attack anyone, but I do verbally attack and belittle people like you because you are very openly hostile for no good reason, and I attack and belittle your religion because your religion is what is lying to you, not me.

    If you would like to give some examples of lies that you’ve seen here, I’ll be happy to address them. If I think they actually are mistakes then I’ll say so, and I might even make a whole new post just to apologize for the mistake(s).

    I have a feeling though that you won’t find many flaws in what we’ve been saying, and I know that I have been telling the truth as I understand it in every post I’ve made here. Making baseless accusations of lying against us does not make the things we say untrue.

    If you wish to keep with the devil then it’s you God given choice to do so. BUT DO NOT THINK YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO LIE AND CORRUPT GOD’S WORDS! You do not, and you will pay for every act against the awesome and infinitely powerful God.

    Again, I for one am not lying or trying to “CORRUPT GOD’S WORDS”. Everything I use from the Bible is, at least to my understanding, accurate and in context. If you find something that you believe is inaccurate or taken out of context, please point it out and we can fix or discuss it.

    MArk my words “atheist” you will pay for it. We are God’s children and we will do what is necessary for his kingdom. My God’s will be shown to you all! Amen.

    There you go with the “atheist” thing again. So I’ll say it again, those of us who call ourselves atheists are not lying. We really see no reason to believe that there are any kinds of gods out there. I could call you “Christian” because I find it hard to believe you’re a true follower of the teachings of Jesus as given in the Bible, but even if your other words don’t match your claims of faith I tend to accept Christian as a term to describe you.

    I assume that you believe there are no atheists, that we know about your god and just deny it, but I assure you, I do not believe in any gods or supernatural phenomena. I know you probably don’t believe me, especially since you think I’m a liar, but it is The TRUTH.

    As for the end…can you really not get through a post without threatening violence against us? WWJD? Maybe you should just be patient and let Jesus kill us all when he comes back in all of his gory glory. I don’t think he needs your help.

  4. Ah Lee Strobel! My heart is aflutter, if I were an irrational gal I’d have such a crush on him. Good news, I’m not. Thanks George, I will add that to my list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>