Fundamentalism usually has a religious connotation that indicates unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs. However, fundamentalism has come to apply to a tendency among certain groups—mainly, though not exclusively, in religion—that is characterized by a markedly strict literalism as applied to certain specific scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies, and a strong sense of the importance of maintaining ingroup and outgroup distinctions, leading to an emphasis on purity and the desire to return to a previous ideal from which advocates believe members have strayed. Rejection of diversity of opinion as applied to these established "fundamentals" and their accepted interpretation within the group is often the result of this tendency.
Depending upon the context, fundamentalism can be a pejorative rather than neutral characterization, similar to the ways that calling political perspectives "right-wing" or "left-wing" can, for some, have negative connotations.
Christian fundamentalism has been defined by George Marsden as the demand for a strict adherence to certain theological doctrines, in reaction against Modernist theology. The term was originally coined by its supporters to describe what they claimed were five specific classic theological beliefs of Christianity, and that developed into a Christian fundamentalist movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Fundamentalism as a movement arose in the United States, starting among conservative Presbyterian theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary in the late 19th century. It soon spread to conservatives among the Baptists and other denominations around 1910 to 1920. The movement's purpose was to reaffirm key theological tenets and defend them against the challenges of liberal theology and higher criticism.
The term "fundamentalism" has roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897), which defined those tenets it considered fundamental to Christian belief. The term was prefigured by The Fundamentals, a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by the brothers Milton and Lyman Stewart, but coined by Curtis Lee Lawes, editor of The Watchman-Examiner, who proposed in the wake of the 1920 pre-convention meeting of the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Baptist Churches USA) that those fighting for the fundamentals of the faith be called "fundamentalists." The Fundamentals came to represent a Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy that appeared late in the 19th century within some Protestant denominations in the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs traces to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which distilled these into what became known as the five fundamentals:
- Biblical inspiration and the infallibility of scripture as a result of this
- Virgin birth of Jesus
- Belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin
- Bodily resurrection of Jesus
- Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus
It did not (yet) become associated with tenets such as Young Earth creationism.
By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the five fundamentals came to be known as "fundamentalists". They reject the existence of commonalities with theologically related religious traditions, such as the grouping of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism into one Abrahamic family of religions. In contrast, Evangelical groups (such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), while they typically agree on the theology "fundamentals" as expressed in The Fundamentals, are often willing to participate in events with religious groups who do not hold to the essential doctrines.
Jewish fundamentalism has been used to characterize militant religious Zionism, and both Ashkenazi and Sephardic versions of Haredi Judaism. Ian S Lustik has characterized Jewish fundamentalism as "an ultranationalist, eschatologically based, irredentist ideology."
Extremism within Islam goes back to the 7th century to the Kharijites. From their essentially political position, they developed extreme doctrines that set them apart from both mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims. The Kharijites were particularly noted for adopting a radical approach to Takfir, whereby they declared other Muslims to be unbelievers and therefore deemed them worthy of death.
The Shia and Sunni religious conflicts since the 7th century created an opening for radical ideologues, such as Ali Shariati (1933–77), to merge social revolution with Islamic fundamentalism, as exemplified by the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Islamic fundamentalism has appeared in many countries; the Wahhabi version is promoted worldwide and financed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan.
The Iran hostage crisis of 1979–80 marked a major turning point in the use of the term "fundamentalism". The media, in an attempt to explain the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution to a Western audience described it as a "fundamentalist version of Islam" by way of analogy to the Christian fundamentalist movement in the U.S. Thus was born the term Islamic fundamentalist, which became a common use of the term in following years.
Buddhist fundamentalism has also targeted other religious and ethnic groups, such as that in Myanmar. As a Buddhist dominated nation, Myanmar has seen recent tensions between Muslim minorities and the Buddhist majority, especially during the 2013 Burma anti-Muslim riots, alleged to have been instigated by hardliner groups such as the 969 Movement.
There are historic and contemporary examples of Buddhist fundamentalism in each of the three main branches of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. In Japan, a prominent example has been the practice of shakubuku among some members of the Nichiren sect—a method of proselytizing involving strident condemnation of other sects as deficient or evil. Similarly, some members of the New Kadampa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and the Western Shugden Society have appropriated the controversial and fiercely sectarian protector deity Dorje Shugden as a symbol of maintaining the purity of the Gelugpa sect from contamination by teachings of other sects, condemning the Dalai Lama's eclectic approach (see Dorje Shugden controversy).
"Fundamentalist" has been used pejoratively to refer to philosophies perceived as literal-minded or carrying a pretense of being the sole source of objective truth, regardless of whether it is usually called a religion. For instance, the Archbishop of Wales has criticized "atheistic fundamentalism" broadly and said "Any kind of fundamentalism, be it Biblical, atheistic or Islamic, is dangerous". He also said, "the new fundamentalism of our age ... leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that, because God is on our side, he is not on yours."
In The New Inquisition, Robert Anton Wilson lampoons the members of skeptical organizations such as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal as fundamentalist materialists, alleging that they dogmatically dismiss any evidence that conflicts with materialism as hallucination or fraud.
In France, the imposition of restrictions on the wearing of headscarves in state-run schools has been labeled "secular fundamentalism". In the United States, private or cultural intolerance of women wearing the hijab (Islamic headcovering) and political activism by Muslims also has been labeled "secular fundamentalism" by some Muslims in the U.S.
The term "fundamentalism" is sometimes applied to signify a counter-cultural fidelity to a principle or set of principles, as in the pejorative term "market fundamentalism", used to imply exaggerated religious-like faith in the ability of unfettered laissez-faire or free market economic views or policies to solve economic and social problems. According to economist John Quiggin, the standard features of "economic fundamentalist rhetoric" are "dogmatic" assertions and the claim that anyone who holds contrary views is not a real economist. Retired professor in religious studies Roderick Hindery lists positive qualities attributed to political, economic, or other forms of cultural fundamentalism, including "vitality, enthusiasm, willingness to back up words with actions, and the avoidance of facile compromise," as well as negative aspects, such as psychological attitudes, occasionally elitist and pessimistic perspectives, and, in some cases, literalism.
In December 2007, the Anglican Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan criticized what he referred to as "atheistic fundamentalism", claiming that it advocated that religion has no substance and "that faith has no value and is superstitious nonsense." He claimed it led to situations such as councils calling Christmas "Winterval", schools refusing to put on nativity plays and crosses removed from chapels. Others have countered that some of these attacks on Christmas are urban legends, not all schools do nativity plays because they choose to perform other traditional plays like A Christmas Carol or The Snow Queen and, because of rising tensions between various religions, opening up public spaces to alternate displays rather than the Nativity scene is an attempt to keep government religion-neutral.
Sociologist of religion Tex Sample asserts that it is a mistake to refer to a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian fundamentalist. Rather, a fundamentalist's fundamentalism is their primary concern, over and above other denominational or faith considerations.
A criticism by Elliot N. Dorff:
In order to carry out the fundamentalist program in practice, one would need a perfect understanding of the ancient language of the original text, if indeed the true text can be discerned from among variants. Furthermore, human beings are the ones who transmit this understanding between generations. Even if one wanted to follow the literal word of God, the need for people first to understand that word necessitates human interpretation. Through that process human fallibility is inextricably mixed into the very meaning of the divine word. As a result, it is impossible to follow the indisputable word of God; one can only achieve a human understanding of God's will.
Howard Thurman was interviewed in the late 1970s for a BBC feature on religion. He told the interviewer:
I say that creeds, dogmas, and theologies are inventions of the mind. It is the nature of the mind to make sense out of experience, to reduce the conglomerates of experience to units of comprehension which we call principles, or ideologies, or concepts. Religious experience is dynamic, fluid, effervescent, yeasty. But the mind can't handle these so it has to imprison religious experience in some way, get it bottled up. Then, when the experience quiets down, the mind draws a bead on it and extracts concepts, notions, dogmas, so that religious experience can make sense to the mind. Meanwhile religious experience goes on experiencing, so that by the time I get my dogma stated so that I can think about it, the religious experience becomes an object of thought.
Political usage of the term "fundamentalism" has also been criticized. "Fundamentalism" has been used by political groups to attack their opponents, using the term flexibly depending on their political interests. According to Judith Nagata, a professor of Asia Research Institute in the National University of Singapore, "The Afghan mujahiddin, locked in combat with the Soviet enemy in the 1980s, could be praised as 'freedom fighters' by their American backers at the time, while the present Taliban, viewed, among other things, as protectors of American enemy Osama bin Laden, are unequivocally 'fundamentalist'."
A study at the University of Edinburgh found that of its six measured dimensions of religiosity, "lower intelligence is most associated with higher levels of fundamentalism."
The Associated Press' AP Stylebook recommends that the term fundamentalist not be used for any group that does not apply the term to itself. Many scholars have adopted a similar position. Other scholars, however, use the term in the broader descriptive sense to refer to various groups in various religious traditions including those groups that would object to being classified as fundamentalists, such as in The Fundamentalism Project.
- Biblical literalism
- Christian Reconstructionism
- Christian nationalism
- Creation science
- Evangelical atheism
- Formalism (philosophy)
- Fundamentalism (sculpture)
- Historical-grammatical method
- Importance of religion by country
- Independent Fundamental Baptist
- Jack Chick
- Jesus Camp (documentary)
- Legalism (theology)
- Militant atheism
- Moral absolutism
- Religious fanaticism
- Seventh-day Adventism
- Sola scriptura
- Traditionalist Catholic
Citations and footnotes
- Nagata, Judith (Jun 2001). "Beyond Theology: Toward an Anthropology of "Fundamentalism"". American Anthropologist. 103 (2): 481–498. doi:10.1525/aa.2001.103.2.481.
- Altemeyer, B.; Hunsberger, B. (1992). "Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, quest, and prejudice". International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 2 (2): 113–133. doi:10.1207/s15327582ijpr0202_5.
- Kunst, J., Thomsen, L., Sam, D. (2014). Late Abrahamic reunion? Religious fundamentalism negatively predicts dual Abrahamic group categorization among Muslims and Christians. European Journal of Social Psychology https://www.academia.edu/6436421/Late_Abrahamic_reunion_Religious_fundamentalism_negatively_predicts_dual_Abrahamic_group_categorization_among_Muslims_and_Christians
- Kunst, J. R.; Thomsen, L. (2014). "Prodigal sons: Dual Abrahamic categorization mediates the detrimental effects of religious fundamentalism on Christian-Muslim relations". The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. doi:10.1080/10508619.2014.93796.
- Hunsberger, B (1995). "Religion and prejudice: The role of religious fundamentalism, quest, and right-wing authoritarianism". Journal of Social Issues. 51 (2): 113–129. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1995.tb01326.x.
- Harris, Harriet (2008). Fundamentalism and Evangelicals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-953253-2. OCLC 182663241.
- Boer, Roland (2005). "Fundamentalism" (PDF). In Tony Bennett; Lawrence Grossberg; Meaghan Morris; Raymonnd Williams. New keywords: a revised vocabulary of culture and society. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 134–137. ISBN 0-631-22568-4. OCLC 230674627. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
- George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, (1980) pp 4-5 Over 1400 scholarly books have cited Marsden's work, according to Google Scholar.
- Buescher, John. "A History of Fundamentalism", Teachinghistory.org. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (1992) pp 376-86
- Curtis Lee Laws, "Convention Side Lights," The Watchman-Examiner, 8, no. 27 (1 July 1920), p 834.
- George M. Marsden, "Fundamentalism and American Culture", (1980) p. 117
- Carpenter, Revive us Again (1997) p 200
- Encyclopædia Britannica: Jewish fundamentalism in Israel
- Ian S. Lustik. "Israel's Dangerous Fundamentalists". pp. 118–139. ISSN 0015-7228. Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
Foreign Policy Number 68 Fall 1987
- "Another battle with Islam's 'true believers'". The Globe and Mail.
- Mohamad Jebara More Mohamad Jebara. "Imam Mohamad Jebara: Fruits of the tree of extremism". Ottawa Citizen.
- William E. Griffith, "The Revival of Islamic Fundamentalism: The Case of Iran", International Security, June 1979, Vol. 4 Issue 1, pp 132-138 in JSTOR
- Lawrence Davidson, Islamic Fundamentalism (Greenwood, 2003)
- Natana DeLong-Bas, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad (Oxford University Press, 2008)
- Lindijer, Koert (24 August 2013). "How Islam from the north spreads once more into the Sahel". The Africanists. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
Hundreds of years later, Islam again comes to the Sahel, this time with an unstoppable mission mentality and the way paved by money from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan. Foreigners, and also Malians who received scholarships to study in Saudi Arabia, introduce this strict form of Islam, and condemn the sufi's [sic].
- "Google News Search: Chart shows spikes in '79 (Iran hostage crisis), after 9/11 and in '92 and '93 (Algerian elections, PLO).". Retrieved December 9, 2008.
- Brekke (1991). Fundamentalism: Prophecy and Protest in an Age of Globalization. Cambridge University Press. p. 127.
- KYAW ZWA MOE (March 30, 2013). "Root Out the Source of Meikhtila Unrest". Archived from the original on August 27, 2013. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), February 15, 2007, ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0
- Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru | The Church in Wales
- "'Atheistic fundamentalism' fears". BBC News. December 22, 2007. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- "Archbishop of Wales fears the rise of "Atheistic Fundamentalism"". Archived from the original on 2007-12-27. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- "Atheistic fundamentalism" fears". BBC News. 22 December 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Pope Robert Anton Wilson, The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. 1986. 240 pages. ISBN 1-56184-002-5
- "Secular fundamentalism", International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2003
- "Headscarf ban sparks new protests," BBC News, January 17, 2004
- Ayesha Ahmad, "Muslim Activists Reject Secular Fundamentalism", originally published at IslamOnline, April 22, 1999. See also Minaret of Freedom 5th Annual Dinner, Edited Transcript, Minaret of Freedom Institute website.
- Hindery, Roderick (2008). "Comparative Ethics, Ideologies, and Critical Thought"
- Toynbee, Polly (December 21, 2007). "Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- Tex Sample. Public Lecture, Faith and Reason Conference, San Antonio, TX. 2006.
- Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
- "An Interview With Howard Thurman and Ronald Eyre", Theology Today, Volume 38, Issue 2 (July 1981).
- Nagata, Judith. 2001. Toward an Anthropology of "Fundamentalism." Toronto: Blackwell Publishing, p.9.
- Gary J. Lewis, Stuart J. Ritchie, Timothy C. Bates (2011-09-03). "The relationship between intelligence and multiple domains of religious belief: Evidence from a large adult US sample" (PDF).
- "Can anyone define 'fundamentalist'?", Terry Mattingly, Ventura County Star, May 12, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
- See, for example, Marty, M. and Appleby, R.S. eds. (1993). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. John H. Garvey, Timur Kuran, and David C. Rapoport, associate editors, Vol 3, The Fundamentalism Project. University of Chicago Press.
- Appleby, R. Scott, Gabriel Abraham Almond, and Emmanuel Sivan (2003). Strong Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-01497-5
- Armstrong, Karen (2001). The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39169-1
- Brasher, Brenda E. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92244-5
- Caplan, Lionel. (1987). "Studies in Religious Fundamentalism". London: The MacMillan Press Ltd.
- Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
- Keating, Karl (1988). Catholicism and Fundamentalism. San Francisco: Ignatius. ISBN 0-89870-177-5
- Gorenberg, Gershom. (2000). The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. New York: The Free Press.
- Hindery, Roderick. 2001. Indoctrination and Self-deception or Free and Critical Thought? Mellen Press: aspects of fundamentalism, pp. 69–74.
- Lawrence, Bruce B. Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989.
- Marsden; George M. (1980). Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 Oxford University Press.
- Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby (eds.). The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- (1991). Volume 1: Fundamentalisms Observed. ISBN 0-226-50878-1
- (1993). Volume 2: Fundamentalisms and Society. ISBN 0-226-50880-3
- (1993). Volume 3: Fundamentalisms and the State. ISBN 0-226-50883-8
- (1994). Volume 4: Accounting for Fundamentalisms. ISBN 0-226-50885-4
- (1995). Volume 5: Fundamentalisms Comprehended. ISBN 0-226-50887-0
- Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
- Ruthven, Malise (2005). "Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280606-8
- Torrey, R.A. (ed.). (1909). The Fundamentals. Los Angeles: The Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A. now Biola University). ISBN 0-8010-1264-3
- "Religious movements: fundamentalist." In Goldstein, Norm (Ed.) (2003). The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2003 (38th ed.), p. 218. New York: The Associated Press. ISBN 0-917360-22-2.
|Look up fundamentalism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, book by Andrew Himes
- Can Anyone Define Fundamentalist? Article by Terry Mattingly via Scripps Howard News Service
- Fundamentalism on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
- Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Atheist Fundamentalism by Simon Watson, published in Anthropoetics XV,2 Spring 2010
- Shared Insights: Women's Rights Activists Define Religious Fundamentalisms
- Benjamin Brown, 'The Two Faces of Religious Radicalism - Orthodox Zealotry and Holy Sinning in Nineteenth Century Hasidism in Hungary and Galicia'
- The Appeal-and Peril-of Fundamentalism by Dr. Bert B. Beach
- The Fundamentals not complete at 2011-07-26.
- The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth Online version of "The Fundamentals", not complete at 2011-07-26.
- Thoughts on "Religious Fundamentalism" Identity
- International Coalition Against Political Islam
- Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
- No to Political Islam
- Psychological Issues of Former Members of Restrictive Religious Groups by Jim Moyers
- Q & A on Islamic Fundamentalism
- www.blessedquietness.com a conservative Christian website, maintained by Steve van Natten
- Women Against Fundamentalism (UK)
- The Rise of Religious Violence
- Yahya Abdul Rahman's Take On Fundamentalists And Fundamentalism
- Roots of Fundamentalism Traced to 16th Century Bible Translations, Harvard University, November 7, 2007.
- The Fundamentalist Distortion of the Islamic Message by Syed Manzar Abbas Saidi, published in Athena Intelligence Journal
- Fundamentalism linked to intimate partner violence
- Evangelicalism – Fundamentalism; What Is The Difference?
- Admiel Kosman, Between Orthodox Judaism and nihilism: Reflections on the recently published writings of the late Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, Haaretz, Aug.17, 2012.