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 for some negative connotations.
Buddhist fundamentalism has also targeted other religious and ethnic groups, such as that in Myanmar. As a Buddhist dominated nation, Myanmar has seen recent tensions between Muslim minorities and the Buddhist majority, especially during the 2013 Burma anti-Muslim riots, alleged[by whom?] to have been instigated by hardliner groups such as the 969 Movement. also that in Sri Lanka. As a Buddhist dominated nation, Sri Lanka has seen recent tensions between Muslim minorities and the Buddhist majority, especially during the 2014 2014 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka  and 2018 anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka alleged to have been instigated by hardliner groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena.
There are historic and contemporary examples of Buddhist fundamentalism in each of the three main branches of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. In Japan, a prominent example has been the practice of shakubuku among some members of the Nichiren sect—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:
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."
As defined by Goodrick-Clarke, Nordic racial paganism is synonymous with the Odinist movement (including some who identify as Wotansvolk). He describes it as a "spiritual rediscovery of the Aryan ancestral gods...intended to embed the white races in a sacred worldview that supports their tribal feeling", and expressed in "imaginative forms of ritual magic and ceremonial forms of fraternal fellowship". The mainline Odinist, Asatruar and Germanic Neo-Pagan community does not hold any racist, Nazi, extreme right-wing or racial supremacist beliefs, and most Neo-Pagan groups reject racism and Nazism.
On the basis of research by Mattias Gardell, Goodrick-Clarke traces the original conception of the Odinist religion by Alexander Rud Mills in the 1920s, and its modern revival by Else Christensen and her Odinist Fellowship from 1969 onwards. Christensen's politics were left-wing, deriving from anarcho-syndicalism, but she believed that leftist ideas had a formative influence on both Italian Fascism and German National-Socialism, whose totalitarian perversions were a betrayal of these movements' socialist roots. Elements of a leftist and libertarian racial-socialism could therefore be reclaimed from the fascism in which they had become encrusted. However, Christensen was also convinced that the diseases of Western culture demanded a spiritual remedy. Mills' almost-forgotten writings inspired her with a programme for re-connecting with the gods and goddesses of the old Norse and Germanic pantheons, which she identified with the archetypes in Carl Jung's concept of the racial collective unconscious. According to Christensen, therefore, Odinism is organically related to race in that "its principles are encoded in our genes".
The Ásatrú movement as practiced by Stephen McNallen differed from Christensen's Odinist Fellowship in placing a greater emphasis on ritual and a lesser focus on racial ideology. In 1987, McNallen's Asatru Free Assembly collapsed from prolonged internal tensions arising from his repudiation of Nazi sympathizers within the organization. A group of these, including Wyatt Kaldenberg, then joined the Odinist Fellowship (as its Los Angeles chapter) and formed an association with Tom Metzger, which led to a further rebuff since "Else Christensen thought Metzger too racist, and members of the Arizona Kindred also wanted the Fellowship to be pro-white but not hostile to colored races and Jews". A series of defections from both of the main US-based organizations created secessionist groups with more radical agendas, among them Kaldenberg's Pagan Revival network and Jost Turner's National Socialist Kindred.
Kaplan and Weinberg note that "the religious component of the Euro-American radical right subculture includes both pagan and Christian or pseudo-Christian elements," locating Satanist or Odinist Nazi Skinhead sects in the United States (Ben Klassen's atheistic Creativity Movement), Britain (David Myatt), Germany, Scandinavia and South Africa.
In the United States, some white supremacist groups and terrorists—including several with neo-fascist or neo-Nazi leanings—have built their ideologies around pagan religious imagery, including Odinism or Wotanism. One such group is the White Order of Thule. Founding members of the Order were Wotanists (a racial form of Odinism). Anders Brievik, a Norwegian terrorist who committed the 2011 Oslo attacks, identified himself as an Odinist. Wotanism is another religion that has appeared in the US white supremacist movement, and also utilizes imagery derived from paganism. Odalism is a European ideology advocated by the defunct Heathen Front and the National Socialist Black Metal musician Varg Vikernes.
The question of the relationship between Germanic neopaganism and the neo-Nazi movement is controversial among German neopagans, with opinions ranging across a wide spectrum. Active conflation of neo-fascist or far right ideology with paganism is present in the Artgemeinschaft and Deutsche Heidnische Front. In Flanders, Werkgroep Traditie combines Germanic neopaganism with the ideology of the Nouvelle Droite.
In the United States, Michael J. Murray of Ásatrú Alliance (in the late 1960s an American Nazi Party member) and musician/journalist Michael Moynihan (who turned to "metagenetic" Asatru in the mid-1990s), though Moynihan states that he has no political affiliations. Kevin Coogan claims that a form of "eccentric and avant-garde form of cultural fascism" or "counter-cultural fascism" can be traced to the industrial music genre of the late 1970s, particularly to the seminal British Industrial band Throbbing Gristle, with whom Boyd Rice performed at a London concert in 1978. Schobert alleges a neo-Nazi "cultural offensive" targeting the Dark Wave subculture.
Mattias Gardell claims that while older US racist groups are Christian and patriotic (Christian Identity), there is a younger generation of white supremacists who have rejected both Christianity and mainstream right-wing movements. Many neo-Nazis have also left Christianity for neopaganism because of Christianity's Jewish roots, and patriotism in favour of Odinism because they view both Christianity and the United States government as responsible for what they see as the evils of a liberal society and the decline of the white race. Kaplan claims that there is a growing interest in one form of Odinism among members of the radical racist right-wing movements. Berger judges that there has been an aggregation of both racist and non-racist groups under the heading of "Odinism", which has confused the discussion about neo-Nazi Neopagans, and which has led most non-racist Germanic neopagans to favour terms like "Ásatrú" or "Heathenry" over "Odinism".
Political usage of the term "fundamentalism" has been criticized. "Fundamentalism" has been used by political groups to attack their 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.
Once considered exclusively a matter of religion, theology, or scriptural correctness, use of the term fundamentalism has recently undergone metaphorical expansion into other domains [...].
[...] 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.
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.
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]
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