What is fundamentalism? In the 2004 Penguin English Dictionary, fundamentalism is said to be specifically a belief in the literal truth of the Bible as well as a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing this belief. More generally, fundamentalism is said to be a movement stressing strict adherence to a set of basic principles or beliefs. Dr. Mel Thompson, an author of books on Eastern Philosophy, writes that fundamentalism is the general attempt to get to the basics, or fundamentals, of belief, setting aside any sophisticated theological argument or doctrines. In Christianity it has generally come to be used for an approach based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. In Islam, it applies to those who claim to take an uncompromising approach to applying the Shariah, or religious law. Like most anything, fundamentalism and fundamentalist beliefs can be perverted for evil uses, or can be instead used to accomplish much that is good and worthy. Just as science can be responsible for both penicillin and the atomic bomb, so fundamentalist belief can be shown to be a way of directing people towards common goals of harmony and creativity or more sinister goals of destruction and intolerance.
[...] Seventh Day Adventism itself is a branch of Protestantism, whose believers think, among other things, that the Bible is the infallible word of God and that the soul sleeps at the time of death until its final judgment and resurrection by God. Koresh led a large group of followers at the religious compound of Mount Carmel Centre in Waco, Texas. Koresh taught that the arrival of Jesus Christ was imminent, as it had been foretold in the Bible. Local authorities, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were more concerned with the stockpile of guns that the Davidians had been steadily amassing. [...]
[...] Clearly, there are cases where fundamentalist beliefs can lead to horrible violence: the two mentioned are just a small sample of many throughout history. However, does fundamentalism necessarily entail violence? Is it impossible for a fundamentalist religion, sect, or other organization to peacefully entertain their beliefs without it involving some kind of bloodshed? Evidence indicates that it is not impossible. Take, for instance, the shakers. Visual: shaker community The Shakers were a religious community that formed in England in 1772, founded by a woman named Anne Lee. [...]
[...] Indeed, isn't fundamentalism about the correctness of capitalism, freedom, and individual rights the ideology behind President George W. Bush's foreign policy and his invasion of Iraq? On May 1,2003, President George W. Bush addressed the officers aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln with a triumphant ‘Mission Accomplished' banner in the background. The president stated that “where freedom takes hold, hatred gives way to hope. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. American values, and American interests, lead in the same direction: We stand for human liberty.” Are these values really any less ‘fundamentalist' than those of Kim, Koresh, or the men who flew those planes into the World Trade Centre? [...]
[...] After a lengthy investigation by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (later to be called the 9/11 commission), it was discovered that the 19 hijackers responsible for the downing of these 4 planes were all members of Al Qaeda, a fundamentalism Sunni Muslim organization that has been established specifically for the purpose of overthrowing ‘non-Muslim' regimes, expelling U.S. soldiers and Western capital and political influence from Saudi Arabia and surrounding states, and to establish an Islamic government, or ‘caliphate.' Any discussion of fundamentalism would be incomplete without mentioning this world-changing event. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee