What is Fundamentalism?

Where the religion calls for charity we see hatred. Where the religion calls for an open and enquiring attitude we see intellectual shut down. Where the religion calls for humor and humility we see sour self righteousness. Where the religion calls for faith and risk we see a fortress mentality and retreat to the comfort zone. Where the religion calls for reaching out and welcome of the stranger we see suspicion, exclusion and fear. Where the religion calls for forgiveness and a non judgmental attitude we see shunning and condemnation. Where the religion calls for freedom and joy we see legalism and misery.

What makes it more complicated is that within a fundamentalist community not everyone exhibits these negative behaviors, and those who do exhibit them are not totally negative or negative all the time. Sincere faith, kindliness, charity, humility and humor are mixed up with the negativities.

Furthermore, those who are outside fundamentalist enclaves often exhibit fundamentalist-type negative attitudes and behaviors.

It is easy to castigate a particular group as “fundamentalist” but that is the same kind of stereotyping behavior that is a mark of fundamentalism. The pots and kettles are all black.

It is better therefore to be alert to the various kinds of negative behaviors and condemn them rather than labelling a whole group of people or condemning a whole subset of religious folks.

If this is the case, then we should be alert and opposed to bigotry, blame,  condemnation, suspicion, fear, self righteousness, exclusiveness, legalism wherever it appears, and we should be unrelenting in our attempt to weed it out…

…starting in our own hearts.

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