It has been said throughout time that a picture could be worth a thousand words. As you can imagine though, for each individual that views it, the words can be decidedly different. It has been stated that during the time of Martin Luther only 3-5% of the population could read the written word. In order to send a message or to just simply get one across, the messenger had to be extremely resourceful. When Luther lit the fire of the Protestant Reformation, he fanned the flames using persuasive images disguised as art. Some of these would even be called propaganda in today's thinking. Those for whom the messages were intended had little trouble deciphering the meaning. It is now most ironic that in our present, mostly literate society, we still see the use of images as a major means of influence in TV, movies, Public Service ads, and especially political campaigns. It's not what people are saying that's troublesome, but how it is they are saying it.

Teacher Notes


You and your team are to create a multimedia, image only ad campaign on a relevant controversial issue of our present time. Team members are not to apply any dialogue (either written or verbal) to any part of their presentation so that you may emulate the non-verbal, image only, process that Martin Luther used when he began the Protestant Reformation.

Kissing the Feet of the Pope

Source: Manuscripts, Books, and Maps: The Printing Press and a Changing World

Bruce Jones


In your team you are to divide the tasks amongst yourselves. Activities can include but are not limited to:

1. A Public Service Announcement
2. PowerPoint Presentation
3. Web Page
4. Art Gallery
5. Video Presentation






It is important for you to remember that in Martin Luther's time 95% of all the people were illiterate, meaning that they were unable to read. It was his images that set the fire and allowed those able to interpret his images to join him in the Reformation. In today's society you are constantly being bombarded by images designed to influence and often change your behavior. It is with this backdrop that you are to develop your advertising campaign.


Your team will format an evaluation form to be used by other class members as they view your work. Your grade will in large part be determined by whether or not your message is understood. You also will be assessed on the quality and thoroughness of your work and the timely manner in which it is delivered.


This activity is about how images are used to raise awareness, influence thoughts and feelings, and generate opinions. This process of using non rational persuasion to influence thinking is called propaganda. Think about these definitions as you answer the following questions:


Answer one of the two questions.

1. In what ways have you seen propaganda being used to sway public opinion?
2. What if anything would you have done differently if you had been in charge of Martin Luther's campaign against the Catholic Church? How might you as the Catholic Church have used media to respond?

David R. MacDonald
Fillmore Middle School
Fillmore USD

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Last Revised: Thu, Apr 13, 2006