Billy James Hargis and the Christian Crusade: a Study in Message Adaptation

Date of Graduation

Summer 1974


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Donal Stanton


This study serves to improve the understanding and communication potential by investigating and illuminating the nature of a portion of the conservative movement -- the Christian Crusade of Dr. Billy James Hargis of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is a relatively mature organization, though it is still under the leadership of its founder, and it has made its positions quite clear through a massive rhetorical program -- the sweep and style of which makes it particularly fascinating. The basic purpose of the study is to critically analyze the rhetoric of Billy James Hargis which has produced success and acceptance.over a more than twenty year period. The basic premise guiding this study is that earlier analysts erred in dealing with Hargis principally as an anti-communist; to do so, precludes rational explanation of the changes in the Christian Crusade which will be documented in this thesis. Hargis' beliefs and actions rise from his fundamentalist religious philosophy, not from a distinct anti-communist philosophy. While remaining consistent in his dedication to that fundamentalism, he has shown an ability to sharply alter its tactical application in order to deliver his central message to a wider audience.

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