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By Alister McGrath

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Extra info for Dawkins' GOD: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life

Sample text

Press material about Satanism, however, does not bear this out, with reportage remaining fairly constant between 1987 and 1993. The concept of moral panic is not without its problems. It can imply that the media is monolithic and can disregard the potential of resistant narratives. As David Garland points out (2008), Cohen’s original definition allowed for a condition or episode to appear at the heart of the panic. By far the most common uses of the term, however, both academic and popular, have rested on the idea that the moral panic is invoked by a folk devil, a ‘suitable enemy, the agent responsible for the threatening or damaging behaviour or condition’ (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 2009, 27).

The way in which cult cops were portrayed in the media is similar to the adulatory discourse around the tough, Rambo-esque grensvegters (border fighters), South African Defence Force (SADF) soldiers who fought in Angola or Mozambique, ‘the revered warriors defending the Republic’s 36 Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa borders against communist takeover’ (Conway 2012, 66). Strong white men were needed to police national borders, both the geographical lines between South Africa and the frontline states and the metaphorical perimeters that kept the collective polity pure.

It received widespread coverage in white newspapers, illustrating the extent to which religious questions involving the occult had entered common national vocabulary. Official discussions about Satanism continued that October, with the NGK synod expressing concern about the growing number of church members involved in mysticism and the occult. The horror films The Exorcist (1973) and Rosemary’s Baby (1968) were singled out as causes for this behaviour, as well as ‘exponents of Satanistic music … riddled with Eastern mysticism’, specifically the foreign rock groups Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen and KISS (Argus, 17 October 1986).

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