Definition of Religious Fundamentalism

 
Any group who believes that they alone have the one and only truth and that those who do not agree with them are not only wrong, but evil, and deserving of punishment.
This definition is not limited to Christianity. It equally applies to Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and others.

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14 thoughts on “Definition of Religious Fundamentalism

  1. Interesting definition. Where did you make that up from? The dictionary defines fundamentalism as a form of religious belief that upholds strict adherence to Scripture (could be any religion). (Wikipedia includes the non-religious and atheist in their definition.)

    I suppose you're certainly free to define things however you want (although creating definitions and then trying to use them to communicate is problematic when others with whom you're trying to communicate don't share your definition), but I question the reasoning of your definition.

    You believe that you're right. That would require that those who disagree with what you know to be right would be wrong. That's just logic. Further, if, say, Buddha (for the sake of discussion) said, “I am the only way,” then it would be logical to analyze the statement, determine whether it was true, and, if true, to believe that you have the one and only truth and that those who do not agree are wrong. If your religious personage with whom you're connected says, “I am the only way” and was accurate, it would stand to reason that those outside of that only way would be wrong and not going to make it. So why would this be problematic?

    It would seem that the issue would not be “Does this group claim to have the only way”, but is it, and an out-of-hand denial based on a made-up definition wouldn't solve the question of whether or not the claim is true. (The position of the fundamentalist is that the claim is true so, therefore, it is necessary that it be believed and maintained.)

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  2. Hi Stan. Thanks for the comment. I will post a few definitions of fundamentalism that are on the internet:

    Source: Free Dictionary—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.

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  3. One thing to remember is that people and culture define what a word means, and the definition of a word can change with time, and new words can even be created, such as, “to google”.

    At one time fundamentalism only referred to one group of Protestants. However, the definition of the word has changed in our society to include any religion that demands strict adherence to its beliefs and is intolerant in one form or another to beliefs that disagree with them. Here is the definition of “fundamentalist” on Urban Dictionary:

    Top Definition for:
    Fundamentalist

    A person who takes their religion so literally and to such extremes that they contradict the very basis of their faith. They typically believe in a literal, verbatim interpretation of their scripture. They also have ridiculous, childish defenses to intelligent criticism of their beliefs that border on insanity. The level of hypocrisy and stupidity most of these people exhibit is truly profound.

    Prime examples of fundamentalists are the geniuses who call themselves Christians and march around with signs that say “GOD HATES FAGS,” seriously suggest that the earth is 6,000 years old when an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence proves otherwise, or tell women that they are filthy when they are menstruating (because it's in the Bible, you know).

    Fundamentalists in general give religion a bad name. By definiition, it is impossible for any religion or belief structure that is centered on love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness (most of the major religions are) to be anything but great. However, when people watch the news and see these dumbasses parading around with their “THANK GOD FOR AIDS – FAGS GO TO HELL” signs and calling themselves Christians, it tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    See also asshat.

    Jerry Falwell blamed the 9/11 attacks on the wrath of God, which he claims was incited by gays, lesbians, and pornography. He's a fundamentalist.

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  4. The “return to fundamental principles” definition is the standard one. If you'd like to run with your own or with the Urban Dictionary one, just be aware that when you're using the term (primarily to vilify those with whom you disagree), it will not be with reasonable or fair understanding. To classify, for instance, the Westboro Baptist nutjobs as “fundamentalists” when they disagree with the “fundamental principles” is simply confusing at best. But the easiest way to defend one's position against those who disagree is to use pejoratives as if they are arguments themselves, so it would make sense for those opposed to Christianity to define “fundamentalists” as “asshats” and assume you've made your point without actually having to produce either logic or evidence. Ultimately, it's your blog. Do what you want.

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  5. Stan, would you agree with the following statement:

    A true Christian believes that true Christians alone have the one and only truth and that those who do not agree with them (unbelievers) are not only wrong, but evil (unrepentant sinners), and deserving of punishment (in the fires of Hell).

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  6. I think the statement is misleading. A true Christian is a follower of Christ (as the name implies). Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” Now, if a person is a true Christian–follower of Christ–then the person would need to agree with Christ. That would include His claim to being the only way. Logically, if the statement is true, then unbelievers are wrong. That shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. You believe Christians are wrong.

    But the rest of your statement is intentionally inflammatory. True Christians believe that everyone is a sinner and deserves Hell. Not merely the unrepentant or unbeliever. True Christians believe that the “wages of sin is death”. So this “us v them” kind of dynamic you're trying to throw in there–“You guys think you're superior somehow”–doesn't really work. Further, believing that everyone is a sinner and in danger of just punishment, a true Christian would be interested in offering everyone a way of escape. But I'm pretty sure that sounds cruel and arrogant to you.

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  7. That is exactly the point, Stan.

    The fundamentalist Muslim believes that you are an infidel, a sinner, and that you merit eternity in Hell. Even though this particular fundamentalist Muslim is not a terrorist and would be polite to you in a casual encounter, he most likely would not take kindly to his daughter dating your Christian son. He might even kill his daughter if she marries your Christian son. He would not due this because he hates you, your son, or his daughter. He would do it because it is the “will of God”.

    This is the danger of fundamentalism and the belief that “our supernatural beliefs are superior to yours and your supernatural beliefs are wrong and dangerous.”.

    Although you might not kill someone because of your strict fundamentalist Christian beliefs you most likely would, in certain situations, discriminate against nonbelievers due to your beliefs. A liberal Christian, a liberal Muslim, a liberal Hindu would most likely not discriminate against someone who did not share his or her views.

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  8. I'm confused now. I thought you argued that the consequences of an idea were irrelevant if the idea was true. So if it is true (for instance) that Jesus is the only way, then believing it is necessary and consequences of believing it are irrelevant.

    You are jumping to conclusions on “discriminate”, I fear. If by “discriminate” you mean “discriminate between what is true and what is not”, it would make sense. If you are suggesting that a belief that Jesus was right requires unfair treatment of others, I can only disagree wholeheartedly. And if your “liberal Christian” who doesn't “discriminate” does so by denying the words of Christ, he/she isn't really a Christian, is he/she?

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  9. I understand where you are coming from, Stan. I've been there. I understand that you perceive that your positions are true, and that by holding true to your true positions, you do not believe that you are discriminating against others.

    But this is why everyone but you, my friend, sees you as a fundamentalist.

    Non-fundamentalists do not look at the world in the black and white categories that you do. For non-fundamentalists, most, but not all, issues are gray—meaning that there is no “right” and “wrong”, only personal preference and opinion. For most non-fundamentalists, whatever you want to do is fine as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else or infringe on the rights of others.

    For instance, non-fundamentalists do not care what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual. We believe that consenting adults are free to do with their bodies as they please. A fundamentalist, Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, cannot allow this. He or she cannot allow others to engage in activities that he or she deems to be “sin”, so therefore fundamentalists push the government to pass laws to regulate what consenting adults do in their own homes.

    It is this invasion of personal privacy and infringement on individual liberties that makes fundamentalism so abhorrent to moderate and liberal democratic society.

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  10. Let me see if I understand you correctly. I see truth claims as black or white, true or false. That is my error as a “fundamentalist” (I put it in quotes because, as I've already stated, I am using the dictionary definition, not your pejorative, pop version). If I understand that Jesus claimed to be the only way and I conclude the statement is true, I'm a narrow-minded bigot because I'm stuck in this Aristotelian logic of either/or, “true/false”, and the rest of the world is free to include both true and false. Logic is “fundamentalist” and the rest of the world is free of logic. I suspect you're not paying attention to my point. I'm not arguing for “discriminating against others”. I'm arguing for examining to see if something is truth.

    Just for clarification, Gary, my Bible doesn't tell me that I need to regulate your bedroom (using the plural “you”). My Bible doesn't tell me to make you (plural, again) more moral. My Bible doesn't see morality as the answer. The fact that you think it does suggests you don't understand what you're disputing. On the other hand, for me to claim “This is moral and that is not” is not invasive since it carries nothing more than my claim. So all this complaint about “discrimination” and “invasion of personal privacy” and “infringement” isn't making any sense to me. I know others do it, but it's not in my Bible. As such, I would argue that those who use my Bible and infringe on others are mistaken.

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  11. If you do not use the Bible to infringe on the rights of others and you do not threaten others with your God's eternal torture, then you are *not* a fundamentalist, Stan.

    I respect your right to believe whatever you choose to believe.

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  12. I am a “fundamentalist” in its original intent. The “fundamentalist movement” was started in an effort to return from liberal Christianity to the fundamentals of the Bible. A “fundamentalist” in its dictionary form is one who holds to the fundamentals. I am that fundamentalist.

    My question is–has always been–not “What are the consequences?”, but “What is the truth?” So if it is true that there is a God and if it is true that rebellion against such a being produces “eternal torture” (your words), then it wouldn't be rational for me to “not threaten others” simply because it's unpleasant to do so. Is it true? That's the important question to me. For you, it's “Is it pleasant?” If it is unpleasant to be told that God has placed just demands on people and there are consequences (from Him, not me) for failure to comply, you would want that information withheld. I would want that information disseminated, along with the good news that there is a solution to the problem.

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  13. And that is why you ARE a fundamentalist by the modern definition of that term. In your mind, you are right, everyone else is wrong, and everyone else is evil for being wrong, and your god will torture them in his divine torture pit for ever and ever for not having the correct belief: eternal punishment for a thought crime.

    Your mentality is no different than fundamentalists of every other religion: We are right, everyone else is wrong. The rest of society doesn't think this way. Our view is: “I have my opinion of truth and you have yours. Let's respect each others opinion.”

    Secular humanists like myself see the belief in the supernatural as the basis of much of the world's suffering. We believe that “truth” should be based on science, reason, and logic, not appeals to the supernatural, which we consider baseless superstition. You cannot prove your beliefs are the one and only truth, Stan. Your belief system rests entirely on “faith”, which we consider nothing other than superstition.

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  14. Can you find even one history book that states the following:

    “In April of 33 AD, Roman and Jewish sources record the Resurrection of the crucified Jesus Christ; his numerous appearances to over 500 people in the city of Jerusalem, the region of Galilee, and in Bethany. Christians, Jews, and Romans verified the claim that the same man who was crucified was walking the streets of Jerusalem.”

    If you can't find a history book that says something like the above it demonstrates that Christians are the ONLY people who believe that this supernatural event happened. It is NOT history, it is superstition.

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