Religious fundamentalism is a broad term which just refers to an individual belief in the outright authority of sacred religious teachings of a particular religious leader. It is often referred to be a movement which stresses strict adherence to basic principles and is often misunderstood for terrorism. Religious fundamentalism comprises of Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist fundamentalism.
Christian fundamentalism is the greatest fundamentalism which began in the 18th century, and it mainly demands strict following of certain philosophical matters. Christian fundamentalism started as at Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States early 19th century by Conservative Presbyterian Theologians with the aim of reaffirming critical beliefs and to defend them against criticisms and liberal Christianity (Antze, 2011). American Christian evangelists, Tammy and Jim in the 19th century used television to spread Christian evangelism which tapped into the common memory of the pioneering days. A conference in 1910 by General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church came up with five fundamentals which include the historical reality of the miracle of Jesus, bodily resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth of Jesus, biblical inspiration and atonement of sin belief through the death of Jesus (Antze, 2011).
Islamic fundamentalism is the second greatest fundamentalism and has largely been associated with extremism since an early 7th century. This Islam fundamentalism has been considered a recent threat to international peace because of recent cases and tensions in war countries like Iraq and Yemen. The early extremists were Kharijites who became independent from Shia Muslims and mainstream Sunni because they had a strong political position and had developed extreme Islamic beliefs. (Pratt, 2006). Their great action was when they developed a radical approach to Takfir which made them view other Muslims as unholy and worth to die. This Islamic fundamentalism is something which has been practiced in many Muslim countries in the world and among them are Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who finance Wahhabi version of fundamentalism.
Hindu fundamentalism is another fundamentalism which has been mainly practiced in India and is led by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against foreign influences. This RSS is looking at the concerns of effects of globalization in India and sets strict rules to control activities of its people. Hindu fundamentalism is configured to control the rise of Islamic puritanism thus defending their faith. Buddhist fundamentalism is another form of fundamentalism which is mainly found in Sri Lanka and explores Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalist ideology, and it shapes the identities of religious minorities.
Islam fundamentalism has been widely criticized in the twenty-first century due to Muslim immigrants around the world. Both Islam and strong Christian beliefs in their religion has demonstrated a strong connection to out-group hostility and has been connected to violent extremism. Lack of ways to controlling religiosity has led to rising of fundamentalism since religious groups often argue about who is more religious than the other. Muslims have most of the times define themselves as more religious than others, and this can lead to misattributions. Fundamentalism comes from a reaction to modernization and secularization since Christians fundamentalists have a strong base on the losing end of modernization process and this is also the same case with Muslims thus increasing levels of fundamentalism specifically in Western Europe. (Pratt, 2006)
Fundamentalism has created hostility with out-group in the sense that the Christian fundamentalists have an intense hatred towards homosexuals, other ethnicities and other members of religious groups because of strong correlations to right-wing authoritarianism. Muslims, on the other hand, have strong conflicts with Jews and authoritarianism of young Muslims since due to the belief that western countries are out to destroy Islam. The rise of groups like the Taliban is because of extreme Islamic fundamentalism and has become a seedbed of terrorism. This religious terrorism can be a danger to many countries in the world.
The difference between Islamic and Christian fundamentalism arises where the Christians are concerned with the reality of Bible through its stories of creations and Jesus miracles but for Islam concerns themselves on why the whole society should be structured to conform to Quran laws. Hinduism fundamentalism, on the other hand, has risen in India such that it has severely affected the cultural, political and secular fabric of the country. It has become more threatening in India than Islamic terrorism because Hindu comprises of 85% of all population in the region. Buddhism and Islamic fundamentalism have created tensions in Thailand since 2004 according to report by the diplomat newspaper since there are rising attacks on religious minorities because they say it is blasphemy against Buddhism. (Ozzano, 2009).
These forms of fundamentalism are however being challenged by globalization since young members in the society have embraced modern things which were challenged by fundamentalist.
Comparison of Religious Fundamentalism to Atheist and Anti-Atheist Groups
Atheism is an act of lack of belief in the existence of God while on the other hand anti-atheist belief in the existence of God thus oppose the atheist arguments. Atheist base their arguments in science calls belief in God as pernicious. Atheists often blame the Christians, Jews and Muslims for the rise of global conflicts due to their unworthy behavior covered under the name of religion. They believe religious fundamentalism through literalist interpretation of scripture, their strong beliefs, and intolerant attitudes have created animosity in the world. However, atheist also has atheist fundamentalism because they describe effects of believing in the existence of God as very harmful to the society and they refuse their ideas to be challenged. Both atheist and religious fundamentalism are extreme since both express anger to non-believers.
Atheism wars with religious fundamentalism rose in the United States after 9/11 terrorist attack and recent attacks in London, Middle East, and Yemen war because Islamic fundamentalism is blamed for encouraging terrorism acts. In the USA, the religious fundamentalists have relentlessly attacked theories of science in natural history museums until the directors begun training their staff to retreat when questions challenging their evolution arose (Ozzano, 2009). Both atheists and Islamic fundamentalists have gone to an extreme extent of destroying people and properties and defending their actions on religion. Examples include Pakistanis who went on a murderous rampage in Mumbai, a famous atheist like Mao who murdered millions who are religious and Hitler who used quasi-mystical racist philosophy against Jews. (Antze, 2011).
Atheist and religious fundamentalism are both dualistic in the sense that they view their positions as clearly well and subsequently view their opponents beliefs as very evil. Both are somehow equal because they are socially and politically conservative and prefer engaging in destruction rather than fair debate. In evidentialism, both atheists and religious fundamentalists have strong beliefs since atheist firmly believes in nature to ask real questions using scientific methods, but religious fundamentalist relies on biblical texts to explain things but only believes in scientific facts so long as it reconciles with biblical truth. Atheism is driven by desires for certainty, and thus they dont tolerate ambiguities and reservations, but the religious fundamentalism believes certainty is only found in objectivity and they argue that lies outside of the human subjectivity are the only way of achieving objectivity and they refer Bible as it is objective.
Anti-theist, on the other hand, compares with religious fundamentalism in many ways. Anti-theist is an atheist who believes all religions needs to be abolished but through fair means not ridiculing and mocking them. Strong anti-theism is similar to religious fundamentalism since they strongly oppose the religions such that they affect psychologically by having a traumatic experience with religions. They use hostility and disrespect when giving arguments on why religions should be destroyed meaning that it is one form of fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism differs with anti-theism through the ways of expressing their arguments because fundamentalists use strong language and mostly criticized for being loud by shouting, but anti-theists keep their evangelical beliefs by themselves without using force.
Anti-atheist and religious fundamentalists can, however, share morals and values. While they differ on the existence of God, they both desire a good world where people and animals are treated well. Interactions between the two sects have led to the adoption of more progressive and tolerant social views since bringing resentments towards religion can sometimes be hurting and breaks communities apart. In modern world through globalization, the religious fundamentalists and anti-theists have found themselves learning their different beliefs more carefully, and through that, they have opened their minds and relent on their attacks on other side beliefs.
Antze, E. (2011). Religious Fundamentalism, Political Power and the Colonization of Spirituality. In Spirituality, Education & Society (pp. 205-218). SensePublishers.
Ozzano, L. (2009). Religious Fundamentalism and Democracy. Politics and Religion, 3(1).
Pratt, D. (2006). Terrorism and religious fundamentalism: Prospects for a predictive paradigm.
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