Fundamentalism usually has a religious connotation that indicates unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs. However, fundamentalism has come to be applied to a tendency among certain groups – mainly, although not exclusively, in religion – that is characterized by a markedly strict literalism as it is applied to certain specific scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies, and a strong sense of the importance of maintaining ingroup and outgroup distinctions, leading to an emphasis on purity and the desire to return to a previous ideal from which advocates believe members have strayed. Rejection of diversity of opinion as applied to these established "fundamentals" and their accepted interpretation within the group often results from this tendency.
Depending upon the context, the label "fundamentalism" can be a pejorative rather than a neutral characterization, similar to the ways that calling political perspectives "right-wing" or "left-wing" can have negative connotations.
Buddhist fundamentalism has targeted other religious and ethnic groups, as in Myanmar. A Buddhist-dominated country, Myanmar has seen tensions between Muslim minorities and the Buddhist majority, especially during the 2013 Burma anti-Muslim riots (alleged[by whom?] to have been instigated by hardline groups such as the 969 Movement.) and in actions associated with the Rohingya genocide (2016 onwards).
Buddhist fundamentalism also features in Sri Lanka. Buddhist-dominated Sri Lanka has seen recent tensions between Muslim minorities and the Buddhist majority, especially during the 2014 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka  and in the course of the 2018 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka, allegedly instigated by hardline groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena.
Historic and contemporary examples of Buddhist fundamentalism occur in each of the three main branches of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. In Japan, a prominent example has been the practice among some members of the Mahayana Nichiren sect of shakubuku — a method of proselytizing involving strident condemnation of other sects as deficient or evil.
Christian fundamentalism has been defined by George Marsden as the demand for a strict adherence to certain theological doctrines, in reaction against Modernist theology. The term was originally coined by its supporters to describe what they claimed were five specific classic theological beliefs of Christianity, and that developed into a Christian fundamentalist movement within the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Fundamentalism as a movement arose in the United States, starting among conservative Presbyterian theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary in the late 19th century. It soon spread to conservatives among the Baptists and other denominations around 1910 to 1920. The movement's purpose was to reaffirm key theological tenets and defend them against the challenges of liberal theology and higher criticism.
The term "fundamentalism" has roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897), which defined those tenets it considered fundamental to Christian belief. The term was prefigured by The Fundamentals, a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by the brothers Milton and Lyman Stewart, but coined by Curtis Lee Lawes, editor of The Watchman-Examiner, who proposed in the wake of the 1920 pre-convention meeting of the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Baptist Churches USA) that those fighting for the fundamentals of the faith be called "fundamentalists." The Fundamentals came to represent a Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy that appeared late in the 19th century within some Protestant denominations in the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs traces to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which distilled these into what became known as the five fundamentals:
- Biblical inspiration and the infallibility of scripture as a result of this
- Virgin birth of Jesus
- Belief that Christ's death was the atonement for sin
- Bodily resurrection of Jesus
- Historical reality of the miracles of Jesus
By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the five fundamentals came to be known as "fundamentalists". They reject the existence of commonalities with theologically related religious traditions, such as the grouping of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism into one Abrahamic family of religions. In contrast, Evangelical groups (such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), while they typically agree on the theology "fundamentals" as expressed in The Fundamentals, are often willing to participate in events with religious groups who do not hold to the essential doctrines.
Scholars identify several politically active Hindu movements as part of the "Hindu fundamentalist family."
Extremism within Islam goes back to the 7th century to the time of the Kharijites. From their essentially political position, they developed extreme doctrines that set them apart from both mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims. The Kharijites were particularly noted for adopting a radical approach to Takfir, whereby they declared other Muslims to be unbelievers and therefore deemed them worthy of death.
The Shia and Sunni religious conflicts since the 7th century created an opening for radical ideologues, such as Ali Shariati (1933–77), to merge social revolution with Islamic fundamentalism, as exemplified by the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Islamic fundamentalism has appeared in many countries; the Wahhabi version is promoted worldwide and financed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan.
The Iran hostage crisis of 1979–80 marked a major turning point in the use of the term "fundamentalism". The media, in an attempt to explain the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution to a Western audience described it as a "fundamentalist version of Islam" by way of analogy to the Christian fundamentalist movement in the U.S. Thus was born the term Islamic fundamentalist, which became a common use of the term in following years.
Jewish fundamentalism has been used to characterize militant religious Zionism, and both Ashkenazi and Sephardic versions of Haredi Judaism. Ian S Lustik has characterized Jewish fundamentalism as "an ultranationalist, eschatologically based, irredentist ideology."
Political usage of the term "fundamentalism" has been criticized. It has been used by political groups to berate opponents, using the term flexibly depending on their political interests. According to Judith Nagata, a professor of Asia Research Institute in the National University of Singapore, "The Afghan mujahiddin, locked in combat with the Soviet enemy in the 1980s, could be praised as 'freedom fighters' by their American backers at the time, while the present Taliban, viewed, among other things, as protectors of American enemy Osama bin Laden, are unequivocally 'fundamentalist'."
"Fundamentalist" has been used pejoratively to refer to philosophies perceived as literal-minded or carrying a pretense of being the sole source of objective truth, regardless of whether it is usually called a religion. For instance, the Archbishop of Wales has criticized "atheistic fundamentalism" broadly and said "Any kind of fundamentalism, be it Biblical, atheistic or Islamic, is dangerous". He also said, "the new fundamentalism of our age ... leads to the language of expulsion and exclusivity, of extremism and polarisation, and the claim that, because God is on our side, he is not on yours." He claimed it led to situations such as councils calling Christmas "Winterval", schools refusing to put on nativity plays and crosses being removed from chapels. Others have countered that some of these attacks on Christmas are urban legends, not all schools do nativity plays because they choose to perform other traditional plays like A Christmas Carol or The Snow Queen and, because of rising tensions between various religions, opening up public spaces to alternate displays rather than the Nativity scene is an attempt to keep government religion-neutral.
In The New Inquisition, Robert Anton Wilson lampoons the members of skeptical organizations such as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal as fundamentalist materialists, alleging that they dogmatically dismiss any evidence that conflicts with materialism as hallucination or fraud.
In France, during a protestation march against the imposition of restrictions on the wearing of headscarves in state-run schools, a banner labeled the ban as "secular fundamentalism". In the United States, private or cultural intolerance of women wearing the hijab (Islamic headcovering) and political activism by Muslims also has been labeled "secular fundamentalism".
The term "fundamentalism" is sometimes applied to signify a counter-cultural fidelity to a principle or set of principles, as in the pejorative term "market fundamentalism", used to imply exaggerated religious-like faith in the ability of unfettered laissez-faire or free-market capitalist economic views or policies to solve economic and social problems. According to economist John Quiggin, the standard features of "economic fundamentalist rhetoric" are "dogmatic" assertions and the claim that anyone who holds contrary views is not a real economist. Retired professor in religious studies Roderick Hindery lists positive qualities attributed to political, economic, or other forms of cultural fundamentalism, including "vitality, enthusiasm, willingness to back up words with actions, and the avoidance of facile compromise" as well as negative aspects such as psychological attitudes,[which?] occasionally elitist and pessimistic perspectives, and in some cases literalism.
A criticism by Elliot N. Dorff:
In order to carry out the fundamentalist program in practice, one would need a perfect understanding of the ancient language of the original text, if indeed the true text can be discerned from among variants. Furthermore, human beings are the ones who transmit this understanding between generations. Even if one wanted to follow the literal word of God, the need for people first to understand that word necessitates human interpretation. Through that process human fallibility is inextricably mixed into the very meaning of the divine word. As a result, it is impossible to follow the indisputable word of God; one can only achieve a human understanding of God's will.
Howard Thurman was interviewed in the late 1970s for a BBC feature on religion. He told the interviewer:
I say that creeds, dogmas, and theologies are inventions of the mind. It is the nature of the mind to make sense out of experience, to reduce the conglomerates of experience to units of comprehension which we call principles, or ideologies, or concepts. Religious experience is dynamic, fluid, effervescent, yeasty. But the mind can't handle these so it has to imprison religious experience in some way, get it bottled up. Then, when the experience quiets down, the mind draws a bead on it and extracts concepts, notions, dogmas, so that religious experience can make sense to the mind. Meanwhile religious experience goes on experiencing, so that by the time I get my dogma stated so that I can think about it, the religious experience becomes an object of thought.
The Associated Press' AP Stylebook recommends that the term fundamentalist not be used for any group that does not apply the term to itself. Many scholars have adopted a similar position. Other scholars, however, use the term in the broader descriptive sense to refer to various groups in various religious traditions including those groups that would object to being classified as fundamentalists, such as in The Fundamentalism Project.
Tex Sample asserts that it is a mistake to refer to a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian fundamentalist. Rather, a fundamentalist's fundamentalism is their primary concern, over and above other denominational or faith considerations.
- Biblical literalism
- Christian Reconstructionism
- Christian nationalism
- Creation science
- Evangelical atheism
- Formalism (philosophy)
- Fundamentalism (sculpture)
- Historical-grammatical method
- Importance of religion by country
- Independent Fundamental Baptist
- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
- Islamic extremism
- Jack Chick
- Jesus Camp (documentary)
- Legalism (theology)
- Market fundamentalism
- Militant atheism
- Moral absolutism
- Religious fanaticism
- Ritualism in the Church of England
- Salafi movement
- Traditionalist Catholic
- Wolves of Vinland
- Nagata, Judith (June 2001). "Beyond Theology: Toward an Anthropology of "Fundamentalism"". American Anthropologist. 103 (2): 481–498. doi:10.1525/aa.2001.103.2.481.
Once considered exclusively a matter of religion, theology, or scriptural correctness, use of the term fundamentalism has recently undergone metaphorical expansion into other domains [...].
- Altemeyer, B.; Hunsberger, B. (1992). "Authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, quest, and prejudice". International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 2 (2): 113–133. doi:10.1207/s15327582ijpr0202_5.
- Kunst, J., Thomsen, L., Sam, D. (2014). Late Abrahamic reunion? Religious fundamentalism negatively predicts dual Abrahamic group categorization among Muslims and Christians. European Journal of Social Psychology https://www.academia.edu/6436421/Late_Abrahamic_reunion_Religious_fundamentalism_negatively_predicts_dual_Abrahamic_group_categorization_among_Muslims_and_Christians
- Kunst, J. R.; Thomsen, L. (2014). "Prodigal sons: Dual Abrahamic categorization mediates the detrimental effects of religious fundamentalism on Christian-Muslim relations". The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. doi:10.1080/10508619.2014.93796 (inactive November 27, 2020).CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of November 2020 (link)
- Hunsberger, B (1995). "Religion and prejudice: The role of religious fundamentalism, quest, and right-wing authoritarianism". Journal of Social Issues. 51 (2): 113–129. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1995.tb01326.x.
[...] the fundamentalism and quest relationships with prejudice are especially meaningful in light of an association with right‐wing authoritarianism. [...] In the end, it would seem that it is not religion per se, but rather the ways in which individuals hold their religious beliefs, which are associated with prejudice.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 17, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Harris, Harriet (2008). Fundamentalism and Evangelicals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-953253-7. OCLC 182663241.
- Boer, Roland (2005). "Fundamentalism" (PDF). In Tony Bennett; Lawrence Grossberg; Meaghan Morris; Raymond Williams (eds.). New keywords: a revised vocabulary of culture and society. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing. pp. 134–137. ISBN 978-0-631-22568-3. OCLC 230674627. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
Widely used as a pejorative term to designate one's fanatical opponents – usually religious and/or political – rather than oneself, fundamentalism began in Christian Protestant circles in the eC20. Originally restricted to debates within evangelical ('gospel-based') Protestantism, it is now employed to refer to any person or group that is characterized as unbending, rigorous, intolerant, and militant. The term has two usages, the prior one a positive self-description, which then developed into the later derogatory usage that is now widespread.
- KYAW ZWA MOE (March 30, 2013). "Root Out the Source of Meikhtila Unrest". Archived from the original on August 27, 2013. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Athas, Iqbal; Hume, Tim (June 24, 2014). "Fear, shock among Sri Lankan Muslims in aftermath of Buddhist mob violence". CNN. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
- "Sri Lanka struggles to halt days of Buddhist riots". BBC News. March 7, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
- George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, (1980) pp 4-5 Over 1400 scholarly books have cited Marsden's work, according to Google Scholar.
- Buescher, John. "A History of Fundamentalism", Teachinghistory.org. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (1992) pp 376-86
- Curtis Lee Laws, "Convention Side Lights," The Watchman-Examiner, 8, no. 27 (1 July 1920), p 834.
- George M. Marsden, "Fundamentalism and American Culture", (1980) p. 117
- Carpenter, Revive us Again (1997) p 200
- Brekke (1991). Fundamentalism: Prophecy and Protest in an Age of Globalization. Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9781139504294.
- "Another battle with Islam's 'true believers'". The Globe and Mail.
- Mohamad Jebara More Mohamad Jebara (February 6, 2015). "Imam Mohamad Jebara: Fruits of the tree of extremism". Ottawa Citizen.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 2, 2014. Retrieved 2015-11-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- William E. Griffith, "The Revival of Islamic Fundamentalism: The Case of Iran", International Security, June 1979, Vol. 4 Issue 1, pp 132-138 in JSTOR
- Lawrence Davidson, Islamic Fundamentalism (Greenwood, 2003)
- Natana DeLong-Bas, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad (Oxford University Press, 2008)
- Lindijer, Koert (August 24, 2013). "How Islam from the north spreads once more into the Sahel". The Africanists. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
Hundreds of years later, Islam again comes to the Sahel, this time with an unstoppable mission mentality and the way paved by money from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan. Foreigners, and also Malians who received scholarships to study in Saudi Arabia, introduce this strict form of Islam, and condemn the sufi's [sic].[verification needed]
- "Google News Search: Chart shows spikes in '79 (Iran hostage crisis), after 9/11 and in '92 and '93 (Algerian elections, PLO)". Retrieved December 9, 2008.[original research?]
- "fundamentalism - religious movement". britannica.com. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
- Ian S. Lustik (Fall 1987). "Israel's Dangerous Fundamentalists". Fp : The Magazine of Global Politics, Economics and Ideas (68): 118–139. ISSN 0015-7228. Archived from the original on October 21, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Nagata, Judith. 2001. Toward an Anthropology of "Fundamentalism." Toronto: Blackwell Publishing, p.9.
- Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), February 15, 2007, ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0
- Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru | The Church in Wales Archived March 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "'Atheistic fundamentalism' fears". BBC News. December 22, 2007. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- "Archbishop of Wales fears the rise of "Atheistic Fundamentalism"". Archived from the original on December 27, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- "Atheistic fundamentalism" fears". BBC News. December 22, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Toynbee, Polly (December 21, 2007). "Sorry to disappoint, but it's nonsense to suggest we want to ban Christmas". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- Pope Robert Anton Wilson, The New Inquisition: Irrational Rationalism and the Citadel of Science. 1986. 240 pages. ISBN 1-56184-002-5
- "Secular fundamentalism", International Herald Tribune, December 19, 2003
- "Headscarf ban sparks new protests," BBC News, January 17, 2004
- Ayesha Ahmad, "Muslim Activists Reject Secular Fundamentalism", originally published at IslamOnline, April 22, 1999. See also Minaret of Freedom 5th Annual Dinner, Edited Transcript, Minaret of Freedom Institute website.
- Hindery, Roderick (2008). "Comparative Ethics, Ideologies, and Critical Thought" Archived January 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
- Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
- "An Interview With Howard Thurman and Ronald Eyre", Theology Today, Volume 38, Issue 2 (July 1981).
- Gary J. Lewis, Stuart J. Ritchie, Timothy C. Bates (September 3, 2011). "The relationship between intelligence and multiple domains of religious belief: Evidence from a large adult US sample" (PDF).CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Can anyone define 'fundamentalist'?", Terry Mattingly, Ventura County Star, May 12, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
- See, for example, Marty, M. and Appleby, R.S. eds. (1993). Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance. John H. Garvey, Timur Kuran, and David C. Rapoport, associate editors, Vol 3, The Fundamentalism Project. University of Chicago Press.
- Tex Sample. Public Lecture, Faith and Reason Conference, San Antonio, TX. 2006.
- Appleby, R. Scott, Gabriel Abraham Almond, and Emmanuel Sivan (2003). Strong Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-01497-5
- Armstrong, Karen (2001). The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-39169-1
- Brasher, Brenda E. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Fundamentalism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92244-5
- Caplan, Lionel. (1987). "Studies in Religious Fundamentalism". London: The MacMillan Press Ltd.
- Dorff, Elliot N. and Rosett, Arthur, A Living Tree; The Roots and Growth of Jewish Law, SUNY Press, 1988.
- Keating, Karl (1988). Catholicism and Fundamentalism. San Francisco: Ignatius. ISBN 0-89870-177-5
- Gorenberg, Gershom. (2000). The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. New York: The Free Press.
- Hindery, Roderick. 2001. Indoctrination and Self-deception or Free and Critical Thought? Mellen Press: aspects of fundamentalism, pp. 69–74.
- Lawrence, Bruce B. Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989.
- Marsden; George M. (1980). Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 Oxford University Press.
- Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby (eds.). The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- (1991). Volume 1: Fundamentalisms Observed. ISBN 0-226-50878-1
- (1993). Volume 2: Fundamentalisms and Society. ISBN 0-226-50880-3
- (1993). Volume 3: Fundamentalisms and the State. ISBN 0-226-50883-8
- (1994). Volume 4: Accounting for Fundamentalisms. ISBN 0-226-50885-4
- (1995). Volume 5: Fundamentalisms Comprehended. ISBN 0-226-50887-0
- Noll, Mark A. A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
- Ruthven, Malise (2005). "Fundamentalism: The Search for Meaning". Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280606-8
- Torrey, R.A. (ed.). (1909). The Fundamentals. Los Angeles: The Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A. now Biola University). ISBN 0-8010-1264-3
- "Religious movements: fundamentalist." In Goldstein, Norm (Ed.) (2003). The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2003 (38th ed.), p. 218. New York: The Associated Press. ISBN 0-917360-22-2.
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- The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, book by Andrew Himes
- Can Anyone Define Fundamentalist? Article by Terry Mattingly via Scripps Howard News Service
- Fundamentalism on In Our Time at the BBC
- Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Atheist Fundamentalism by Simon Watson, published in Anthropoetics XV,2 Spring 2010
- Q & A on Islamic Fundamentalism
- www.blessedquietness.com a conservative Christian website, maintained by Steve van Natten
- Women Against Fundamentalism (UK)
- Yahya Abdul Rahman's Take On Fundamentalists And Fundamentalism
- Roots of Fundamentalism Traced to 16th Century Bible Translations, Harvard University, November 7, 2007.
- The Fundamentalist Distortion of the Islamic Message by Syed Manzar Abbas Saidi, published in Athena Intelligence Journal
- Admiel Kosman, Between Orthodox Judaism and nihilism: Reflections on the recently published writings of the late Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, Haaretz, Aug.17, 2012.