In 1622, Pope Gregory XV established a congregation, or committee, of 13 cardinals, 2 prelates, and a secretary to supervise missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church. He called it the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide—the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith—or Propaganda for short. In due course this word came to mean any effort to spread ideas or beliefs in order to make proselytes.
Today, “propaganda” is often associated with a distortion of facts, the dishonest influencing of people’s minds, as for example in time of war. But some authorities feel that even the best of advertising can fairly be described as propaganda, especially if it involves persuasion. Comments The World Book Encyclopedia: “Educators in democratic societies teach people how to think, but propagandists tell them what to think.”