Thursday, August 03, 2006

PSEUDO-MISSION: Barna, Propaganda & Spiritainment

"Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of the country…. It remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world…. As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented."
(Dr. Dennis Cuddy, Mental Health Screening, pp. 22-23, quoting Edward Bernays' 1928 book Propaganda)

"None of this would have been possible if it had not been for the twenty-plus years of research and ministry activity undertaken through Barna Research and, subsequently, The Barna Group (TBG). Our comprehension of the changing marketplace and the ways in which faith does (and does not) fit into that world is attributable to the constant data flowing into our hands from the national studies we conduct to gain such insight. Even our idea of spiritainment was a direct result of having spent years analyzing the roles and intersection of media, entertainment and faith development."
(George Barna, "Good News is Coming, 7/10/06)

The most recent Discernment Ministries newsletter is on the topic of "The Manipulations of Dominionism." In this article the point is made that statistics and surveys are used by New Apostolic Reformation dominionists as methods of propaganda. The stunning quotation above came from Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud who, according to Dr. Dennis Cuddy, worked in the Truman administration to get the American public to accept water flouridation.

This week Herescope has been doing a series on how the social sciences were merged with "mission" to create a new evangelical ethic that furthered the theologies of dominionism. Social science relies heavily upon data collection, particularly statistical research and surveys. Statistics is a perfect vehicle with which to further the aims and agendas of social architects. As anyone who has studied graduate level courses in statistics and research methods can tell you, the manner in which a survey is designed can pre-determine the results.

But it gets worse. Surveys, statistics and data collection can pinpoint where people are most vulnerable to change. Sophisticated methods of manipulating people have been devised by social scientists and psychologists for many decades. Political campaigns use on-going survey data collection (including focus groups) to tweak their candidate's image, "spin" his record, and "perfect" his responses. Advertisers use on-going survey data collection to target their market, tweak their product's image, and increase sales. An entire generation of church leaders have been trained in how to sell new theologies, new music, new worship styles, new buildings, and new programs to the unsuspecting and undiscerning evangelicals in the pews.

It is, therefore, relevant to note that Barna has recently shifted gears. Previous Herescope posts have commented on his book Revolution, which is disconcertingly a step beyond Rick Warren's 2nd Reformation. Barna has recently launched a multi-pronged, multi-million (perhaps billion) dollar -- mind-boggling in its scope and breadth -- media campaign to actually implement his "Revolution," particularly targeting young people. The full "press release" can be found here. It is worth a serious read.

Barna has put legs onto his "Revolution." Barna details his "big vision" to "finishing well" -- notably the title of a Bob Buford book. (It may be that this media campaign will be a vehicle for Buford, a former cable TV exec, and his offspring the Emergent Church.) The plan is for cutting edge "spiritainment" (Barna's word) -- movies, TV, mobile cellular service, books, magazines, websites, music, a satellite training network, a "Josiah Corps" to train young leaders, an Internet platform for churches -- and most interesting -- a worldview curriculum. Barna explains:

"And, of course, there’s The Revolution. This burgeoning movement of deeply devoted followers of Christ who are intent upon being the Church remains near and dear to my heart. In the very near future we will be launching a website for Revolutionaries that will have many valuable features developed with this audience in mind. (One of the most exciting functions is its ability to facilitate community among Revolutionaries.) Tyndale will be releasing a series of books geared to the Revolutionary market, including volumes written by Randy Frazee (a Willow Creek teaching pastor), Frank Viola (a house church leader), and Jim Henderson (an outreach pioneer). (About a dozen other books are in various stages of development.) We are developing an IPTV platform for the Revolutionary community, likely to launch as early as next year. And, of course, the resources generated through Good News will address many of the interests of those who yearn for more of God in their life."

If this mammoth project is for real, it has to be one of the most expensive and aggressive propaganda campaigns ever orchestrated. When one connects this campaign to Barna's blatant call for a "revolution" in Christianity (dominionism), it becomes extremely disturbing. The purpose for the campaign seems fairly obvious. The "worldview" of evangelical society must be radically transformed -- and what better way to do it but with state-of-the-art high-tech media entertainment?

After reading Barna's statement there is one huge unanswered question:

Who is funding this?

The Truth:

"They hatch cockatrice's eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper." (Isaiah 59:5)