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Religious Fundamentalism

There are quite a few similarities between all types of religious

fundamentalists, including fundamentalist Jews, Christians and Muslims. In a

worst case scenario, in which these three types of religious fundamentalists find

power, the world may find itself in a global holy war, with ground zero being

Jerusalem. Perhaps it should not be so surprising that fundamentalists of

different religions have so much in common. Fundamentalist Jews, Christians

and Muslims believe that the divine word of their faith is the one and only Truth,

not subject to questioning or doubt. They believe that their particular holy book is

the undiluted Word of God. Therefore, fundamentalist Jews know, without any

doubt, that they are God's Chosen People. Fundamentalist Christians know,

without any doubt, that Armageddon will come and only the true believers in

Christ will attain salvation, while all nonbelievers will suffer eternal damnation.

Fundamentalist Muslims know, without any doubt, that Allah will repay them for

their faith in Him and will damn the infidels. [Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott

Appleby, The Fundamentalism Project (1994) Vol. 4: Accounting for

Fundamentalisms (pp.191)].

Another common theme that unites religious fundamentalists is fear.

Whether they are Hindu, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, fear is the common

denominator. They fear change and modernization, and with it, a loss of their

influence. They fear that secular influences will cause their children to abandon

their churches, mosques, temples and synagogues for the pursuit of other goals

that can lead to material wealth and earthly gratification. They fear the influence
of the mass media culture and its ability to lure young people with music, fashion,

alcohol, drugs, sex and freedom. They all especially fear education if it

undermines the teachings of their religion. [Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott

Appleby, The Fundamentalism Project (1993) Vol. 3: Fundamentalisms and the

state (pp.26)]. This is especially true as it concerns the education of girls in their

society. What they fear most is a future they cannot control or understand, in

which the influence of their religious beliefs is minimized or disregarded

altogether. All of these fears are common among religious fundamentalists,

including fundamentalist Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The psychology of fear that is pervasive in fundamentalist religious circles

has its roots in human sociology and behavior. People are social animals who

form groups based on such things as shared values, religion, culture, language,

tradition, heritage, or location. They come together hoping to survive, prosper

and pass on their traditions. Whenever the core characteristic that bonds a group

together (such as religion) comes under threat, the group will inevitably fear for

its very survival. They’ll attempt to change the situation that poses the threat or

attack the forces they see as undermining their survival. Failing that, they will

attempt to repel the threat and strengthen their group cohesiveness. This is the

psychological mindset that religious fundamentalists find themselves in. They see

their group solidarity under attack by forces of modernity and the secular world

and feel the need to defend and even attack those who they feel are attacking

them. Leaders of fundamentalist groups will even seek to exaggerate these


perceived threats in order to gain personal and political advantage. [Joseph R.

Kiefer II, 2007. The Strategies of Christian Fundamentalism (pp.258)]

The growth and emergence of all types of religious fundamentalism has

been driven by fear, though each religion relies on its own version of a revealed

Truth that cannot be refuted. Fundamentalists believe in their own versions of a

Truth that can never be temporal in nature; it is based on what they believe to be

the direct and inerrant Word of God. A central characteristic of religious

fundamentalist groups is the belief that the divine word of any particular religion

is the one and only truth, subject to no compromise. The danger in the cases of

fundamentalist Judaism, Christianity and Islam is that eternal salvation requires

more than leading a good and humane life; it demands certain achievements

during one's life - conquering land, converting non-believers, or destroying

infidels, which can lead to situations such nightmare scenarios such as a global

holy war. [Elon, M. 2004. Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles. (pp.188)]

References

 Elon, M. 2004. Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles. Philadelphia:


Jewish Publication Society of America.
 Joseph R. Kiefer II, 2007. The Strategies of Christian Fundamentalism.
United States Institute for Peace.
 Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby. The Fundamentalism Project.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

(1991). Volume 1: Fundamentalisms Observed.


(1993). Volume 2: Fundamentalisms and Society.
(1993). Volume 3: Fundamentalisms and the State.
(1994). Volume 4: Accounting for Fundamentalisms.
(1995). Volume 5: Fundamentalisms Comprehended.