Perspective on Fundamentalism

With all the hullaballoo about Islamic terrorism in the last few day, many posters have felt compelled to provide some perspective to disassociate the terrorists and hard line radical muslims pursuing Jihad from mainstream Islam. Fine, but in the process, by referring to radical muslims as fundamentalists, they slander and misrepresent the Christian fundamentalist movement. There is no comparison between these two groups. In fact, if the term fundamentalist can be ascribed to muslims, it is the mainstream muslim that best fits the description and who peacefully believes the entire Koran is the inspired word of God.

The differences between radical Muslims and fundamental Christions is so vast that on two of many issues my point should be clear.

Homosexuality In a radical Islamic republic, the penalty is death. Fundamentalists …

Women’s Liberation The women in radical islamic states are slaves. Fundamentalists might bitch about women’s liberation.

Jerry Falwell and Jack Chick are jokes. They are not terrorists.

Good point. However, Extremist Fundamentalist Moslems do not slander Extremist Fundamentalist Christians (You know, the ones that bomb abortion clinics and such, if that’s a good example).

Including the terms “Extremist” or “Radical” as well as “Fundamentalist” in describing these terrorists is not innopropriate, IMO.

I am not up on the actual truth on the movement to bomb abortion clinics, but I always thought that there are only a handful of incidents perpetrated by disconnected mad individuals. I suppose we could then refer to Stalin as an extremist fundamentalist atheist.

It sounds a little awkward, but wouldn’t it still work? Kinda, sorta, no?

I dunno…this is a very tricky situatuion of semantics and context.

All societies have people on the ‘extremes’ of anything, I think this is just another example of it.

Thank god most people are just ‘in the middle’.

I think it is a matter of degree only. If you look at the beliefs of fundamentalist Muslims and Christians you will find a great deal of similarity. Both believe:
women are to be kept in a place male clerics say they belong, an intermix between church and state, no compromise on religious tenants, science is subordinate to dogma, the bible/Koran are infallible, all opposing viewpoints are to be eliminated, homosexuals are to be persecuted. As Rush L. stated on Tuesday, he agrees with Falwell that feminists and gays are trying to destroy the country but a good many people are trying to stop them.

It is only the secular state and the traditions of the enlightenment that keep American fundamentalists in check, in their heart of hearts a state like Iran or Taliban Afghanistan is the goal.

Remember two of the most prominent religious leaders in our nation Falwell and Robertson agreed with the WTC terrorists. Two of our most prominent political and moral leaders Rush L. and Dr Laura gave partial agreement to F/R.

Attitudes toward women or sexual orientation are simply coincidental when discussing the origins or uses of the term Fundamentalism. As MEBuckner outlined in [url=“”]Wildest Bill brings up an interesting point about the term ‘Fundie’.
, Fundamentalism was a specific movement within American Christianity that rejected certain “modernist” trends that included re-examining Scripture in light of historical information and literary criticism.

Various Christian Fundamentalists have, indeed, objected to the application of the word to any Islamic (or any other) religious movement. However, the analogy is very direct and the use of the term is quite legitimate in that context. There has been, for a number of years, a movement within Islam to resist “modernist” interpretations of Islamic law and re-examination of the Quran.

Identifying those anti-modernist groups as Fundamentalist (without implying any Luddite or authoritarian tendencies–we are only discussing theology, not technology or politics) works quite well to convey their attitudes within their own belief systems.

The use of the word Fundamentalism as applied to Islam predates both the rise of the Taliban and the association of Islam with terrorism. The Taliban are an extreme group that go beyond Fundamentalism; many Islamic scholars have noted that what they put forth as true Islam has much more to do with cultural associations in Afghanistan and have nothing to do with Islam (except as the Taliban choose to interpret it). I have read works written in the 1950s that pointed out the fanatical and non-Islamic nature of some of the Afghani Imams at that time.
The rather sloppy association of the words Fundamentalist and Muslim by the evening news does not invalidate the more focussed used of the word by people who have drawn legitimate comparisons among the Fundamentalists (or, perhaps, fundamentalists) of several religions.

Given that far too many people get their understanding of the world from the 6:00 news, it is understandable that the association people make is to the impression that “fundamentalists” are opposed to women’s rights, oppose homosexuality, prefer harsh measures of punishment, and (in some cases) are willing to perform terrorist acts to assert their positions. The ignorance of the masses, however, does not invalidate the actual use of the term (that preceded the current popular beliefs).

I can think of no reason why extreme Christians have or should monopoly on the word. The word “fundamentalist” does NOT mean Christian Fundamentalist, its just that often people imply such when they leave the “Christian” out.

This should have nothing to do with the differences or similarities between 2 totally different radical groups. That’s like comparing Native American culture to that of people from India, because in the US we have the same, very un-specific, word for both peoples. Just doesn’t work.

Maybe your post should go towards people’s increasing lack of specificity when they communicate (like my grandfather always moans about).

First, I would not characterize Fundamentalist Christians as “extreme” (although there are Fundamentalist Christians who are extreme, it is not a “trait” that encompasses all of them).

Then, to the extent that anyone gets to have a say in the language, Fundamentalist Christians have, at least, some priority in that they actually coined the term.

I would generally agree (against the wishes of those Fundamentalist Christians who would like to reserve the word to themselves), that the language is not theirs to control and that people will apply the word to other groups through analogy.

The statement ‘The word “fundamentalist” does NOT mean Christian Fundamentalist’ is too broad and too absolute. It certainly does mean Fundamentalist Christian in well over half of its occurrences in American speech. That is not imprecise language, that is simply using it in the way it was coined. From that perspective, (and I say this knowing there will be exceptions), the only time the word does not mean Fundamentalist Christian is when it is used to modify another noun, such as Muslim.

What about snake handlers, and extremist religions who forbid any kind of medical aid?

fun·da·men·tal·ism (fnd-mntl-zm)
1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.

2.a. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
2.b. Adherence to the theology of this movement.

U seem to be right tomndebb, and I didn’t know that the term was originally coined by Christians. I was working off def 1 and def 2b, not 2a.

Frankly, I’d love a cite that refers to (a group of) Christians originally coining the term for themselves, if anyone has one.

I usually detest when people get this semantic (like “does atheism = no belief in god or does atheism = belief in no god”), but it seems to me that…

fundamentalism (f) is general

Fundamentalism (F) refers to the Christian sect

Citation? As noted (poorly) earlier, MEBuckner provided a description of the origins of Fundamentalism in the thread Wildest Bill brings up an interesting point about the term ‘Fundie’.

The capitalization point is probably valid, except that we can’t see it when spoken and we can’t be sure that a missed capital is not a typo. When I use the word stand-alone, I do capitalize it.

thanks tomndebb - although i skimmed the earlier thread i didn’t catch that post.

Semantics are important as they can clearly (or attempt to anyways) define a particular concept or reality.

As to the above matter, I say it seems like a reasonable ‘yes’.

I sure hope others can see beyond the media’s label of fundamentalism. They tend to associate the word with terrorism and all bad things in general. As above mentioned, the word can be appropriately connected to other concepts as well and not having to equate it with terror. I’m sure there are plenty of fundamentalists who would prefer the traditional ways of a particular religion than a modernist would like it (in the Greater Vancouver area of BC, we’ve seen some problems and power struggle arising between two parties, fundamentalists - or the traditionalists - and the modernists in particular religious temples).

People who prescribe to terror (can be anything from suicide bombing to bombing abortion clinics) should be called psychopaths or sociopaths (depending how high they score on certain socio-psychopathy checklists, e.g. Clekley, Hare, and so forth). Or we can just call them crazy (but then again, there are plenty of non-violent crazy people).