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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Luther a spin-doctor?

Attack ads have Reformation roots

Had television existed in the 16th century, the daily dose of political attack ads might have shown spots of Martin Luther as saint and the pope as sinner!

People who use the phrase "politics as usual" when they are disgusted by the mudslinging and outrageous claims of political commercials probably don't realize just how "usual" that really is. The modern mass media campaign of charge and countercharge originated not in the smoke-filled rooms of political parties but in the Protestant-Roman Catholic struggle of the Reformation.

The printing press was barely 70 years old when Martin Luther and his supporters turned it into an awesome tool--and weapon--for the spread of the Lutheran understanding of the gospel. They used every trick in today's campaign adviser's book to advance their cause, and their Catholic opponents responded in kind.


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