The fundamental problem with narrow, violent religion

As fundamentalism gets more strident and therefore more dangerous, I keep finding more and more articles talking about those very issues. I found this interesting article in the Baltimore Sun website. Here is an excerpt:
Fundamentalism stirs conflicts outside the fractious landscape of the Middle East, as well – a battle Sojourners founder the Rev. Jim Wallis details in God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (HarperCollins, 316 pages). “Since when did promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with a concern for economic security, health care and educational opportunity mean you had to put faith in God aside?” queries Wallis, in response to Christian fundamentalists who refer to political progressives as “godless” and to secularists who refuse to factor faith into any social equation.


Armstrong’s thesis defines fundamentalism as a creative evolution of religion to cope with secular influence. This aspect of her book is fascinating and useful in understanding the why of fundamentalism, here and abroad. Nevertheless, she explains, fundamentalism ultimately fails because it precludes real-time change: Fundamentalists attempt to re-establish the spiritual underpinning of a society that no longer exists, a society long replaced by the modern world. The Taliban, for example, tried to return Afghanistan to the Dark Ages, but even in that remote region, the entire infrastructure of the country had to be dismantled to achieve this goal. The consequent suffering, particularly by women, was incalculable.

and this

Both confirmed secularist Harris and devoutly Christian Wallis come to a similar conclusion: Fundamentalism is far from a benign expression of faith. Whether it takes the form of a massive attack like Sept. 11 or “merely” the stoning to death of a Saudi woman for alleged adultery – or even the verbal assaults on mourners at the funeral of gay murder victim Matthew Shepard by fundamentalist preacher the Rev. Fred Phelps – fundamentalism can breed terror in those who do not accede to its demands, whether violence is perpetrated or not.

Fundamentalism demands that all civil liberties be destroyed. That’s why they hate the ACLU so much, even though they don’t mind using the ACLU when their own civil liberties are infringed. Fundamentalism also inevitably leads to violence and as American fundamentalists get more vehement and more shrill, American fundamentalist violence becomes more and more inevitable.

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