Talk about the 1980s’ global displays of religious fanaticism. What characteristics did fundamentalists share and how did they differ?
Fundamentalism is a brand of conservative religion that advocates for strict adherence to sacred scriptures. The term “fundamentalism” was once only used to describe American Protestants who insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible, but it was used more extensively to describe a wide range of theological movements starting in the late 20th century. In fact, many of the world’s main religions could be regarded to have fundamentalist movements in the broadest sense of the word. See fundamentalism, Christian for a comprehensive discussion of fundamentalism in American Protestantism.
Christian fundamentalists fiercely fought theological modernism, which sought to harmonize historic Christian beliefs with contemporary science and historiography, as the “higher critique” of the Bible, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (For an examination of modernism in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, see Modernism.)
Fundamentalists backed the temperance movement, which banned the sale and use of alcoholic beverages, and opposed the notion of biological evolution being taught in public schools. However, American Christian fundamentalism did not largely focus on politics for the most of the 20th century. In fact, from the late 1920s through the late 1970s, the majority of Christian fundamentalists steered clear of politics because they believed it to be a sinful space ruled by non-Christians.
The term “Christian” is only used to refer to people who have been “born again” by accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour by Christian extremists and by Evangelicals in general. The notion of separation was a central tenet of Christian fundamentalism, particularly in its early years: sincere Christians must keep themselves apart from the impurity and corruption of those who have not been born again.