On Fundamentalists And Fundamentalism

The following is lifted in total from here with credit to my blog friend Cindi who says about the author of the piece:
He is a Canadian man who converted to Islam in his young adult years. He was a Christian who studied for the ministry and was, in fact, an assistant pastor for two years. He became disillusioned with faith in general and left the ministry. Later, he converted to Islam.
I have said on many occasions here that Fundamentalism is not really religious but more a way of thinking, living and processing events. I liked this article and commend it to you.

My Take On Fundamentalists And Fundamentalism
by Yahya Abdul Rahman [Nov 7, 2006]

Fundamentalism has nothing to do with religion.

In fact, one does not have to believe in God or any religion to be a fundamentalist.

Fundamentalism is a mindset or a particular way a person interprets what they see around them, and in turn determines their course of action.

Fundamentalists tend to be rigid and will not accept any other interpretation of how things are other than their own.

They adhere to a set of principles- sometimes codified in a book or articulated by some charismatic leader- and they refuse to waver from those principles even if they have been proven wrong.

In fact, they are never wrong, and that is why they are called fundamentalists in the first place.

Everyone else is wrong, stupid or an agent for some other vested interest and, as a result, they- the non fundamentalists- cannot see the true reality.

Underscore THE true reality.

Fundamentalists build a wall of virtue around themselves and they are the only true purists.

Everyone else is tainted.

They have been to the top of the mountain and their "eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

They are impossible to deal with and every argument one uses against them merely further confirms what they already believe to be true.

Thus, their position is irrefutable.

They do not believe in dialogue as that would be a cop out.

They don't believe in compromise as - once again - that would demonstrate that the other side may have a point.

If you even suggest to them to have an open mind then you are an apostate from "the cause" or an enemy that must be silenced at all costs.

They are usually vulgar and abusive in their language, but can dress their presentation up a bit when the need arises.

They may call themselves Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists, anarchists, environmentalists, left wing, right wing, centrist, fascist, democratic, socialist, progressive, and every other kind of "ism" one can think of.

They are NOT out to save the world, but to make it in their own image and will spend all their energies doing so.

Generally, they are very sad people but are convinced of their rightness, so the sadness is a necessary sacrifice for a higher cause.

How one arrives at such a state of mind is a subject of a lot of debate.

I think it is their means at finding concrete and ready made answers in a complex world and this gives them a sense of security - a sense of smugness that they are right and have seen the light.

One thing is for sure it is a very miserable way to live one's life.

The label "fundamentalism" is hurled at members of the Muslim community quite frequently as it is currently an effective way to bludgeon Muslims into silence.

Ironically, those making the accusations are - for the most part- the worst kind of fundamentalists themselves and possess those characteristics which have been outlined above.

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention, fundamentalists, while claiming moral superiority, are the worst form of hypocrites one can imagine.


  1. Still no comments? I don't guess that's really a surprise. Us fundies don't get a lot of love these days.

    This article is interesting at several levels. It's the usual concoction of truth and misdirection that attends any smear job. I believe the group he wants to silence are angry xenophobes, but since he's been smeared as a Fundamentalist he tries to spread the joy while devenoming the term. Spend a few minutes on his blog, and see if my quick analysis isn't pretty much spot-on. He's as angry a Muslim as you're likely to find anywhere.

    It might be helpful to consider the opposite of a fundamentalist - a relativist.

    If a fundamentalist is rigid, a relativist can't be trusted to believe the same thing when with other people.

    If a fundamentalist is a purist, a relativist calls different things sins depending who he's been listening to that day.

    If a fundamentalist is never wrong, a relativist never thinks anyone is wrong (except fundies.)

    Both whitewashes are unfair. The "Fundamentals" of Fundamentalism are pretty straightforward:
    + The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
    + The virgin birth of Christ.
    + The belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin.
    + The bodily resurrection of Christ.
    + The historical reality of Christ's miracles.

    There's a lot of discussion about what inerrancy means, but all 5 fundamentals were under grave attack in the late 1800's and early 1900's, and the attacks are not quiet today. Bultmann still carries weight 60 years after he made hay under the Modernist banner.

    Does my steady adherence to these 5 points mean I'm an unreasoning person, and unable to engage in meaningful conversation? I would like to hope it means I'm persuaded these five fundaments are true, and I'm committed to standing on them until proven otherwise.

  2. Thanks for such a thoughtful response Kevin. I like the way that you contrast both sides of the ideological/theological spectrum - there are certainly two ditches one can fall into.

    My perspective is one of an ex-fundie and perhaps much of my issues are with legalism rather than fundamentalism. Either way that approach to spirituality led me to the dark places where I embraced the bible as my rule book. In doing that I think that I missed the heart of the scriptures. I could give one the definition of agape love but I was not a loving person.. I "knew" all about grace but was not full of grace for others.. though I didn't say it most of the time I inwardly judged folks a lot based on my interpretations and applications of the bible.

    I guess what I am saying is that I see Fundamentalism more of a behavior than a belief system - not that other belief systems don't lead to bad behaviors.. just commenting on the places Fundamentalism has taken me.

    About the five Fundamentals: I think that those are descriptive of most Christian thought -Roman Catholics embrace them.. do you feel that they are Fundamentalists? Maybe it would be helpful to understand where you are coming from when you reference the fundaments? Are you saying that only someone who identifies themselves as a Fundamentalist accepts them? Or are you saying something different?

    And lastly, I do hope that others enter the dialog. Granted I don't usually get a lot of dialog around these kind of topics.. other blogs specialize more on things of this nature.. maybe your comment will help break the ice.

    Either way, I hope your day is a great one!

  3. Although not a fundamentalist, I thought Cindi's description of fundamentalism & its proponents was perhaps a bit too harsh.

    The biggest problem I see with fundamentalism is trying to harmonize some of the apparently contradictory verses in the Bible. It's almost impossible to do so without being a verbal and mental contortionist.


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