In this issue we are publishing a further excerpt from that book. The footnotes included here are part of the [draft] text of the book itself. This has led to significant, and often dramatic, changes in the lives of huge numbers of people, often undermining traditional relations and customs.
What prompted you to write a book about fundamentalism? This project started out at Northwestern University as a dissertation proposal on the political influence of American megachurches, but I discovered pretty quickly that, in and of themselves, megachurches were not nearly as interesting or unique as they seemed at first.
As I studied further, it became clear that, while some authors had fixated on some of the more public aspects of this tension e. That became the focus of my eventual dissertation project and ultimately this book.
For practical purposes, there are two relevant definitions. On the one hand, fundamentalism refers to a specific movement within Protestant Christianity, which coalesced around a set of inter-church disputes in the early twentieth century.
On the other hand, fundamentalism has become a kind of catch-all term for describing movements or orientations that are both politically significant and militantly irrational.
Usually this second definition is linked with religion—as when people talk about Islamic fundamentalism—but not always. Despite the difficulties that the term presents, however, the concept of fundamentalism is important to me for a couple of reasons.
First, it more clearly highlights the stakes for many Christian conservatives who enter into politics. Second, perhaps in part because of its slipperiness, the term can help us to think broadly about the disputes and tensions that each and every one of us have to navigate as we struggle to communicate with, live with, and govern with one another.
As democratic citizens we all have to ask ourselves: In a deliberative democracy, compromise is a value, but for hardliners it is often viewed as a character flaw.
How does that translate to politics? Fundamentalists describe themselves as both marginalized and a majority.
They speak of national revival and theocratic dominion, but both are always deferred. They celebrate local victories while announcing imminent national destruction. There was a kernel of truth in these arguments; some ecumenical leaders were pushing, for example, to consolidate under-staffed rural churches by merging congregations from different denominations.
But this kernel of truth became part of a much larger narrative in which national religious and political leaders were joining together to crush local churches and outlaw fundamentalist belief. This narrative, in turn, has continued in different guises over the past century—linked with apocalyptic fears of communism, secularism, environmentalism, socialism, and so forth.
Magazines published anecdotes about local pastors who stood up to ecumenicists and local churches that broke away from their corrupted denominations.
Fundamentalist publications began celebrating large, independent churches as islands of local resistance.Here I will focus on the effects of this in the Third World—the countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East—and the ways in which this has contributed to the current growth of religious fundamentalism there.
In a world where fundamentalism seems forever on the rise many new religious movements represent a better side of religion, free from powermongering and free from the urge to enforce its doctrines on people for their own good.
Fundamentalism in the Modern World In history, all clocks run forward. —Melvin Lasky, Utopia and Revolution differentiates modern religious fundamentalism from its predecessors.
This. the antimodern charge of fundamentalism is characterized by quite modern features. Within this type of fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is, in this regard, very much a product of, and an adaptation to, modern political conditions.
Fundamentalists in all the major world religions tend to reinforce male-dominant gender roles. A distinctive feature of modern fundamentalism is the conviction that politics is primary. which do not have a distinct set of sacred canons. although the tendency to reconstruct a “golden age” characterized the axis civilizations during earlier periods as well.
that salvation . Fundamentalism is, in this regard, very much a product of, and an adaptation to, modern political conditions. Fundamentalists in all the major world religions tend to reinforce male-dominant gender roles.