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"Hindu-Buddhist philosophy was at the heart of
Nazism," writes Dave Hunt, a prolific conservative Christian countercult
writer and speaker. Hunt continues that "it was the Aryan God of Hinduism who willed Hitler upon the world" (Dave
Hunt, Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust: The New Age Movement in Prophecy, 1983:143, 152).
The author of over twenty books, as well as the editor of a monthly countercult newsletter, Hunt's targets range from
Hinduism and Buddhism to Roman Catholicism, secular psychology, and the instrumental spiritualities of the New Age. In his exposition of their alleged malevolence, Hunt is a superb propagandist for fundamentalist Christianity in its never
ending battle against those it considers a threat to the faith. While he refers to himself as an "apologist" and "cult expert," a careful examination of his work reveals not so much apology or expertise as propaganda-a systematic manipulation of information which is designed to shape the behaviour of a specific audience in a particular fashion.
This work addresses three main questions:
(a) What social construction of knowledge (following the work
of Berger and Luckmann, and Mannheim) underpins the kind of propaganda represented by
Christian countercult apologetics?
(b) What propaganda model derives from this underpinning?
(c) How is this propaganda manifest in such apologetics, especially the work of Dave Hunt?
This use of a sociology of knowledge with propaganda theory presents an analysis of a major genre of Christian literature which is substantially different from any which has been attempted before. However, because both elements are applicable to any organized manipulation of information, the analysis is not limited either to the work of Dave Hunt in particular or to religious material in general. Embedded within a sociology of knowledge, the propaganda model may be applied to other movements and material in order to investigate their propagandistic contentspecifically where and how the manipulation occurs, how crucial the manipulation is to the cogency of the argument, how it supports or otherwise impacts the social construction of reality of the target audience, and, understanding these, how seriously one should take the argument.
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Copyright © 1999 Douglas E. Cowan