It is unfortunate that the word that simply means a certain set of beliefs has also come to mean an attitude about belief that demonizes all those who disagree. Fundamentalist beliefs are not a threat to anyone. The attitude of demonizing those who believe differently than you do is a threat to everyone.
I use "fundamentalism" and "fundamentalist" here for a variety of radical extremism that gives cultural assumptions the color of religious authority and aggressively seeks to impose them on a world perceived as threatening them, and which demonizes all those who disagree. The reason I use these words for that attitude is the same reason that sociologists and many other people use them: because people who display that attitude originally adopted the label "fundamentalist" for themselves, until, by their own behavior, they had brought the word into disrespute.
Because I use the word "fundamentalism" in this fashion, I have been accused by some of being an enemy of a particular religious doctrine, and of myself "demonizing" those who hold that doctrine. There are some who will continue to insist on that no matter what I say, because portraying themselves as "persecuted" justifies what they do to persecute others. For all others, I have included these introductory paragraphs to clarify that I very adamantly support freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of association. These freedoms were appropriately placed at the head of the Bill of Rights, because they are the basis of all other freedom, and without them, we can exercise no other rights.
I am a liberal Christian, and as such, I have many disagreements on doctrine with my more conservative brethren and sistren. This is, in my liberal view, as it should be. It is in open dialogue between different opinions that the truth is tested. I do not have to agree with another person's opinion in order to passionately defend his/her right to believe it, live by it, and speak for it.
It is in defence of the equal rights to freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, that I oppose the radical anti-liberalism that has misappropriated many labels to itself, including "fundamentalism," "Christianity," "conservatism," and "democracy." On these pages, I will continue to call it what it first called itself, because that is what most of the world knows it by: fundamentalism. There is nothing in any of the world's religions – all of which consider compassion to be a central value – that justifies any attack, abuse, or harm upon any human being in the name of religion. Any and all of the world's religions can be, and have been, used by those who wish to justify and make righteous their abuse of other human beings. That behavior is not rooted in any ideology, nor can it be changed by any change in ideology. The source of it is in human individuals; the responsibility for it is on human individuals; and the cure for it is in recognizing our common humanity and the human rights that transcend all group boundaries.
This section began with my response to fundamentalist arguments regarding homosexuals. That was before September 11, 2001. I have become increasingly aware of the dangers in the rise of fundamentalism worldwide. ALL forms of fundamentalism — Christian, Islamic, or Other — are a danger to every human society and offensive to the true spirit of their claimed religions. Fundamentalism is an active backlash against all forms of social progress by those who perceive themselves as losing power in such progress. It is essential that those who support progressive movements — including, but not limited to, feminism, anti-racism, and the rights of sexual minorities — be aware of and actively counter the backlash of Fundamentalism.
If you are a Fundamentalist, you will find the above statements offensive. If you read what I have written, and write to me reflecting an understanding of what I have written, I will dialogue with you. All other debate will be religiously ignored.
Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.
Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul,
and love thy neighbor as thyself.
Test the spirit by its fruits.
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Last updated March 19, 2005