What Is a Fundamentalist? (Part IV)

Since the topic of fundamentalism comes up here again and again, and tends to distract from all the other topics, I thought it might be useful to create a spot specifically devoted to fundamentalism, which could be used as a focal point for discussion of the topic, thus allowing other discussions to stick more closely to their topics. Also, the subject of fundamentalism is very relevant to questions of origins in its own right, and therefore a systematic discussion of what fundamentalism is – as opposed to charges that X is a fundamentalist uttered in the heat of dispute – might be of some intellectual use.

So I would throw out some questions, and hope that many people, not just a few, will throw in their input. I’m not asking anyone to answer all the questions, just the questions that interest them.

I’m not looking for links to Wikipedia articles, etc., but for people’s own experiences of fundamentalism (if, for example, they were raised that way) or their reports of their encounters with fundamentalists, or books they have read by fundamentalists, or debates they have watched where one speaker is fundamentalist, etc.

1 – Since “fundamentalist” is a term that has been used in a variety of ways, a good starting point might be: What does each person here understand by “fundamentalism”?

From there, we could move to any of these questions, as interest dictates:

2 – Are people from certain Protestant denominations more likely to be fundamentalist than those from other Protestant denominations? And is fundamentalism exclusively a Protestant thing, or are there Catholic fundamentalists? If so, how do Catholic fundamentalists differ from Protestant ones?

3 – Are there non-Christian varieties of fundamentalism, and if so, how do they differ from, and how do they resemble, Christian fundamentalism? Are the differences so great that the term “fundamentalism” is too much of a stretch?

4 – What is the relationship between “fundamentalism” and “literalism”? Can a person be one but not the other?

5 – Is fundamentalism compatible with belief in macroevolution from a common simple ancestor? If not, what are the sticking-points? And if so, who are examples of fundamentalists who accept evolution?

6 – Are there any posters here, or even lurkers, who would define themselves as fundamentalist? Is so, could they put some specific contents to that? And could they explain what they hope to learn by reading or participating in the discussions here?

I think these questions are good enough for a start.

I’m hoping not to have to participate extensively in the discussion myself, as I hope the subject will draw in some new voices, or at least draw out some of the old voices to talk more personally about their religious roots and how those roots affect how they approach origins questions. I know that at least two articulate people here have noted (here and/or on BioLogos) that they came from backgrounds that could be called fundamentalist, but have left many aspects of that background behind, and it would be good to hear more from them.

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In general, fundamentalists gravitate towards a less nuanced interpretation of scripture that is more literal and strongly influenced by pre-modern traditions. It is in direct contrast to liberalism and higher criticism. There are fundamentalist factions in many religions, from Christianity to Islam to Hinduism.

Christian Fundamentalism rejected Roman Catholicism, so that would be a bit of a sticking point for many catholics. Christian Fundamentalism was also a reaction to new sects such as Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah Witnesses. It was a bit of a Protestant Inquisition, but without trials, torture, and executions.

I think there are Protestant denominations that tend to be more fundamentalist than others, with Southern Baptists on the more extreme fundie side and Lutherans on the more extreme libby side.

Islamic fundamentalism would be a good comparison.

Hard to say. There were some in the Christian Fundamentalist movement in the early 20th century that were non-literalists, but it played out very differently in the actual US population. As I stated earlier, there is a lot of influence from earlier, pre-modern traditions in fundamentalism, and one of the things it brought with it in America was literalism and anti-intellectualism. A good book to reference is “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” by Richard Hofstadter which won the Pulizter in 1964.

The sticking point appears to be traditions in American Christian communities which got wrapped up in the Christian Fundamentalist movement. It is interesting to note that one of the authors of “The Fundamentals” was James Orr who accepted evolution, and he was also a Scottish Presbyterian. His contribution was an essay entitled “Science and Christian Faith”. I haven’t read it, but it certainly would be worth referencing for this thread. It is also worth mentioning the Scope’s Monkey Trial which not only created a stage for William Jennings Bryant, the walking embodiment of American Christian Fundamentalism, but for the social climate of Christian Fundamentalism in America at the time.

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A relatively short and informative essay that was part of The Fundamentals:

You can find fundamentalists and creationists using the same arguments today. It’s quite a read.


Here it is. Using the scroll bar at the bottom, go to page 500/924 to read Orr on evolution. My take away is that he draws a distinction between evolution and Darwinism in favor of some unclear sort of divinely guided evolution, but is far removed from the AiG camp. The general tenor of this essay squares with my own experience in Pentecostal churches from the late 1960’s through the 1990’s, which spent little time on origins, and never, not once by anybody I heard, put dinosaurs on Noah’s ark.


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In the context of today’s use of it, it seems to be one of those ill defined terms that is used to mean what ever the user what’s it to mean, either positively or negatively.

My personal definition of a Christian Fundamentalist would be someone who believes the fundamental’s of the Christian faith. The various lists I see of Fundamentalists doctrines seem to be in line with the basic doctrines most evangelical Christians would believe, with the primary area of disagreement being creation/evolution. By this definition I would consider myself a fundamentalist, who accepts evolution.

It does seem that in some understandings of Fundamentalism it is tied to a particular cultural, political and social view point within the United States. However I don’t think everyone who uses the term is making that connection.

Literalism seems also to have an ill defined definition. As I have always understood it, it would be an approach that takes the Bible Literally, unless we are talking about genre that is not-literal. By this definition I would would consider myself a literalist, and from a theological perspective I moved from a YEC view to one that accepts evolution, not because of the science, but an understanding that the early chapters of Genesis are not a literal genre.

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I don’t think it’s rejection of higher criticism is necessarily the case. It may reject some of the premises and conclusions of (some) higher criticism, but this is not necessarily a rejection of higher criticism itself.

I would agree. To put it another way, fundamentalists reject higher criticism that contradicts their preferred and more traditional theology.

I’ve found that people who have trouble identifying Christian fundamentalism, usually have very little trouble identifying Muslim fundamentalism. This is quite fascinating, given that the two have so much in common. To paraphrase one definition, I find fundamentalism to be not enough “fun”, too much “damn”, and too much “mental”.

  1. Insistence on specific historic Christian creeds and beliefs as dogma. This virtually always includes Trinitarianism, and typically includes inerrancy of some form or other (including the view that Scripture is inerrant on matters concerning faith and morals, but not on some other matters).

“Fundamentalism developed out of nineteenth-century Anglo-American evangelicalism. It was a strange coalition of diverse evangelical groups who rallied against the common enemy of theological liberalism. In particular, they were unified in upholding the truth of scripture—which they conceived primarily in terms of factual reliability—against the theories of higher criticism.”, Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Clarendon Press, 1998), 2

“They perceive their task as being to defend the faith by defending the authority of the Bible. While they vary somewhat in their notions of biblical truth and authority they are in more agreement than their sometimes acrimonious debates and schisms would suggest.”, Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Clarendon Press, 1998), 20

“As heirs of the fundamentalist tradition they perpetuated the fundamentalist doctrine of an error-free Bible within mainstream evangelical thought, even while they modified that doctrine in various ways.”, Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Clarendon Press, 1998), 3

  1. Anti-modernism (especially hostility to the Enlightenment), and a typical preference for pre-modern theology, culture, and values while opposing modern values such as liberalism, modern feminism and LGBTQ+ rights. This often expresses itself in opposition to various forms of pluralism, such as globalization and multi-culturalism (which in turn tracks reliably with opposition to immigration), and a preference for separatism.

a militant opposition to modernism , both theologically and culturally, is what distinguishes Protestant fundamentalism from its conservative Protestant cousins”, Peter C. Hill and William Paul Williamson, The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism (Guilford Press, 2005), 1

Separatism remains the central distinguishing feature of self-proclaimed fundamentalists in the United States.”, Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Clarendon Press, 1998), 3

“Religious pluralism is an inescapable feature of modernity. It implies choice, inviting the suspicion that there may be more than one path to salvation (perhaps even a non-religious path). The surge of fundamentalist movements, or movements of religious revitalization, we are witnessing in many parts of the world is a response to globalization and, more specifically, to the crises for believers that inevitably follows the recognition that there are ways of living and believing other than those deemed to have been decreed by one’s own tradition’s version of the deity.”, Malise Ruthven, Fundamentalism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP Oxford, 2007), 23

  1. Strict sexual mores. This includes mores regarding pre-marital chastity, marital monogamy, and reproductive rights for women (which are typically opposed in various ways). This is seen in both Protestant and Catholic fundamentalism, the latter of course emerging from a religious organization which prioritizes the authority of a celibate male priesthood.

“Several recent studies suggest that sex—or more specifically, the control of female sexuality—looms large in the language employed by fundamentalists.”, Malise Ruthven, Fundamentalism: The Search For Meaning (OUP Oxford, 2005), 102

“Historically, Grisez is credited with having played an important role in persuading Pope Paul VI not to relax the church’s stance concerning the impermissibility of contraception; the church’s traditional teachings on the issue were reiterated in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. Grisez’s arguments from the late 1970s concerning papal infallibility have been described as providing a “rallying point for theological conservatives” and as having influenced the Vatican’s pronouncements concerning the exclusion of women from the priesthood, whereas Michael Northcott talks of “[p]apal reliance” on Grisez’s and Finnis’s work in the 1990s when formulating a human-centered account of basic goods in the context of the “non-human created order.” Richard McBrien, in turn, suggests in his comprehensive study guide to Catholicism that theorists such as Grisez and Finnis “strongly support the teaching of the hierarchical magisterium on sexual and medical issues.””, David A. J. Richards, Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law: Obama’s Challenge to Patriarchy’s Threat to Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 87

“But the account also preserves traditional Catholic teaching about the intrinsic wrongness of contraception, abortion, and all forms of nonprocreative sex (including gay and lesbian sex) because, on the view taken by the new natural lawyers, all such actions threaten life, because they either end a life (abortion) or impede bringing a life into being through procreative sex. Its form of norm-based fundamentalism claims to find, in philosophical arguments rooted in an interpretation of the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, support for a certainty about traditional views of sexuality and gender that condemn the constitutional developments discussed in Chapter 1.”, David A. J. Richards, Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law: Obama’s Challenge to Patriarchy’s Threat to Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 190

“It is these assumptions that explain why fundamentalist thought has been so obsessed with preserving a reading of Genesis, which contains the Adam and Eve narrative, as science. It is a narrative very much read as rationalizing a male reactionary discourse, God the Father, as patriarch, setting the terms of both gender and sexuality (the serpent) in terms of quite rigid gender roles. Eve’s fault was, on this patriarchal view, trusting her own experience as opposed to the word of God the Father, reflecting a deep distrust among fundamentalists of experience, including moral experience.”, David A. J. Richards, Fundamentalism in American Religion and Law: Obama’s Challenge to Patriarchy’s Threat to Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 162

  1. A pre-modern hermeneutic, and opposition to modern critical methods (especially the historical critical method). This also includes opposition to any form of what is perceived as “rationalist” or non-supernatural interpretations. [1] Note that although fundamentalism typically features various forms of literalism, a universal strictly literalistic hermeneutic is rarely applied except among fringe fundamentalist groups (such as flat earthers). As James Barr put it, “Even if fundamentalists sometimes say that they take the Bible literally, the facts of fundamentalist interpretation show that this is not so”. However, fundamentalists almost invariably appeal to the “plain reading” or “plain meaning” of Scripture, which they believe is the most appropriate primary hermeneutic.

Christian fundamentalism started as an intellectual crusade against the historical-critical method applied to the Bible, but our brief look at the complexities of biblical interpretation in premodern times shows that fundamentalists are not going back to a more authentic Christian way of reading the Bible.”, Torkel Brekke, Fundamentalism: Prophecy and Protest in an Age of Globalization (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 187

“In particular, they were unified in upholding the truth of scripture—which they conceived primarily in terms of factual reliability—against the theories of higher criticism.”, Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Clarendon Press, 1998), 2

They cast aspersions on the ‘assured results’ of higher criticism (Johnson n.d.: ii. 49; Anderson n.d.: ii. 70), as did later evangelicals who questioned the supposed objectivity of historical criticism (cf. Manley 1926: 20; Packer 1958a: 141).”, Harriet A. Harris, Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (Clarendon Press, 1998), 27

“Fundamentalists in general avoid addressing ambiguities of language by arguing that the plain meanings of scriptures are an integral part of their moralizing purpose.”, Malise Ruthven, Fundamentalism: The Search For Meaning (OUP Oxford, 2005), 62

Textual anomalies are either denied, or subsumed into the hermeneutics of inerrancy, where the burden of proof is shifted from God to humanity. They can then be explained as errors of human understanding, rather than flaws in the text itself.”, Malise Ruthven, Fundamentalism: The Search For Meaning (OUP Oxford, 2005), 66

  1. Fundamentalism typically correlates with science skepticism and anti-science attitudes. This is commonly seen in evolution denialism (specifically the modern evolutionary synthesis, though many fundamentalists reject almost all forms of evolution), and anthropogenic global warming denialism. I’ve already posted on this before, so I’ll only add a couple of citations here. Thomists in particular tend to have a conflicted relationship with science, since they have to acknowledge its success while holding that in tension with pre-modern Thomistic science and theology. [2]

“For most of its history, science has counted on the support of the intellectual establishment while criticism of science has come mostly from religious fundamentalists and literary romantics.”, Chet Raymo, Skeptics And True Believers (Random House, 2012)

“These faith-science tensions grounded in the creation-evolution debate generate a general distrust of mainstream science: The elite, atheist scientists who accept evolution are the same ones promoting the issue of climate change. In the view of some, if they get the former so wrong, why should evangelicals trust them on the latter?”, Katharine K. Wilkinson, Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change (Oxford University Press, 2012)

I agree. In fact non-fundamentalists are typically more likely to reject concordism.

[1] Such as the idea that Jesus walked on a sandbar (rather than miraculously walking on water), or that the flood was a natural event which God warned Noah about (rather than a miraculous event caused directly by God), or that the Red Sea crossing was a natural event at which Moses arrived as a result of good timing helped by God (rather than a miraculous event caused directly by God).

[2] Some Thomists are prepared to accept that Thomstic science is wrong, and try to retcon it as metaphysics instead, but this is a perilous path since they know that once it’s acknowledged that Aquinas could be wrong on science then it must be acknowledged he may have been wrong about other subjects, such as theology, and then the whole house of cards will come falling down. I find a lot of Thomists will acknowledge Aquinas could in theory have been wrong about anything, but in practice never actually identify him as wrong about anything, and always find reasons why he isn’t in error.

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@Eddie and @Jonathan_Burke, a good healthy discussion of how Fundamentalism is defined (by different people at different times) is fine, but I’m going to shut it down if it gets into a “who gets the label” war. Some people, myself included, like putting things (and people) into categories because it helps frame conversations, however, applying labels when they are unwanted is one of the quickest ways to poison a conversation. I’ve made that mistake before.

So @Jonathan_Burke, @Eddie has said he does not wish to be labeled as a “Fundamentalist”, so please avoid placing that label on him. A route forward is to describe what you mean by “Fundamentalism”, as you have done above, and let the “reader” decide in their own minds how @Eddie’s words stack up.


One of the things I have noticed in what I consider Christian fundamentalism (as well as others) is the idea of the culture war - boycotts, condemning rhetoric, etc.

We could probably include anti-vax here, as well.

Overall, I think this is an excellent overview of fundamentalism.


Yes, I mentioned that in the other thread.

All Christians believe the fundamentals of the Christian faith. It’s just that there is a lot of disagreement about what are those fundamentals.

With the exception of the Presbyterian trio of William Jennings Bryan, J. Gresham Machen, and Carl McIntire, nearly all of the best-known fundamentalist personalities have been Baptists. In One in Hope and Doctrine , Kevin Bauder and Robert Delnay offer a narrative history of Baptist fundamentalism through the mid-twentieth century. They intend their book to be the first of two volumes on this topic.
The major contours of the authors’ story will be familiar to historians of American fundamentalism. By the late-1910s, Northern Baptists were divided into three broad camps: 1) revisionist, progressive modernists; 2) dissenting, traditionalist fundamentalists; 3) denominationalist moderates, who were more pietistic and hesitant to dissent against progressive trends. Denominational conflict ensued in the 1920s and 1930s, resulting in substantial losses for the fundamentalists as modernists and moderates joined cause against conservative dissenters. The public ignominy of the Scopes Trial (1925) further inhibited the fundamentalist cause. The Northern Baptist Convention came firmly under the control of modernists and their moderate allies, becoming part of the Protestant Mainline, while fundamentalist Baptists retreated into their own subculture and established groups like the General Association of Regular Baptist Church (GARBC, est. 1932) and, later, the Conservative Baptist Association (est. 1947).


The author (Bauder) can be heard in an audio interview at this link, discussing fundamentalism:

To put it another way, fundamentalism often brings with it the idea that their beliefs are what culture and law should be shaped around. It isn’t enough that the fundamentalist believes in living a certain way, but that others should live that way as well, even if they aren’t believers. This is in stark contrast to more modern and liberal Christian views where people are allowed to determine for themselves on how they live their lives. Fundamentalism wants to restrict while modern liberalism wants to convince.


First, we all agree that fundamentalism is a pejorative in most quarters today. So most people, Christians included, don’t think it applies to them.

Secondly, I tend to favor the historical definition of Christian fundamentalism, which is a reactionary Protestant movement that started up in the early 20th century in North America. Initially it was defined by an adherence to the “Five Fundamentals”, but nowadays I think it is more defined by an attitude rather than a simple question of whether one subscribes to these fundamentals. In general, evangelicalism is different from fundamentalism, even as the latter still clearly influences the former. There are anti-intellectual elements in evangelicalism as well. But there are evangelicals who also accept evolution (while still affirming the infallibility of Scripture), which would be unthinkable in fundamentalism.

Thirdly, I think there is a spectrum to the attitude that defines fundamentalism. For me, them most telling features of fundamentalism are

  1. Anti-intellectualism, including a strong distrust of mainstream experts on any subject (e.g. evolutionary biology, history, theology, NT studies).
  2. A black-and-white attitude towards belief. Questions and doubts are actively discouraged and no uncertainty is allowed towards any belief, even many non-essential doctrines.
  3. A biblicist approach to Christianity with little awareness of historical theology or Christian tradition.
  4. General fear or lack of engagement with wider popular, non-Christian culture. (e.g. discouraging consumption of popular movies and books by non-Christians)

Regarding 1): fundamentalists tend to distrust experts without giving them a fair hearing, or trying to understand the strengths of their opponents’ arguments. They rarely admit any intellectual input from non-Christians. Regarding 3): fundamentalists tend to be very ill-informed about the theology of denominations other than their own. E.g. they have a very warped view of what Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy teaches.

Thirdly, for me the stereotypical fundamentalist is a pastor from an independent fundamentalist Baptist church whose theological degree is from an in-house seminary, doesn’t read many non-Christian or even non-Baptist authors, supports creationists like Ken Ham, and is suspicious of the historical creeds of Christianity. For me people like Joshua Swamidass, William Lane Craig, and Tim Keller are not fundamentalists even as they more or less believe in the “Five Fundamentals”, and might disagree with mainstream academic scholars regarding certain things.

Finally, I think it is odd to speak about Catholic or Thomist fundamentalism. One can certainly identify subsets of these groups which share attitudes and beliefs similar to Protestant fundamentalists, but their intellectual mooring is very different, even as they are also anti-modernist. Now, to be sure, there is a subset of North American Catholics who hold YEC beliefs or even geocentrism (see e.g. Robert Sungenis), influenced by Protestant fundamentalism. But I wouldn’t lump all Traditionalist or conservative Catholics together with Ken Ham. Such a grouping would only be done for rhetorical effect.


I’m enjoying the discussion so far.

Some of the items on Jonathan Burke’s list, while they may be held by fundamentalists, aren’t peculiar to fundamentalists. For example:

I agree about the inerrancy part, but I don’t think the Creeds part is as good a marker of fundamentalism. The Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican churches all have upheld the historical Christian Creeds. Many mainstream Protestant denominations uphold and make liturgical use of one or more of the Creeds as well. I doubt that anyone would argue that the Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican churches are primarily fundamentalist churches. I also doubt that the Lutheran and Reformed churches, which also place some emphasis on the Creeds, consist primarily of fundamentalists. In all of these churches, except perhaps some branches of the Reformed and maybe one branch of the Lutheran, fundamentalists would be a minority sub-population. So “regarding Creeds as required dogma” doesn’t by itself indicate fundamentalism.

The converse also seems to be the case. Many fundamentalists either deny the validity of the Creeds or make little to no use of them. Probably the greatest bulk of American fundamentalists go to Baptist or Baptist-type churches (whether they are called Something Baptist, Something Gospel, Alliance, Church of Christ, Calvary Christian Fellowship, or whatever), and in many if not most of those churches, the Creeds are either never read liturgically or studied at all, or, if they are used, it’s usually only one of them, The Apostle’s Creed, that is used liturgically or discussed in depth. And as Jonathan has told us, most Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, and other sects are fundamentalists, and some of these deny the historical creeds entirely. So just as “affirming Creeds” doesn’t automatically guarantee “fundamentalist”, so also “being fundamentalist” is no guarantee of putting any emphasis on Creeds or even accepting them as true.

For these reasons, I think that the “Creed” marker is not as helpful as the “inerrantist” one.

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Fundamentalism has shown two different faces on this question. I think that since the rise of movements like “The Moral Majority” (1970s) fundamentalists have became more active and politicized. But it wasn’t always thus.

As J. Burke has pointed out, separationism has often been a tendency of fundamentalism. Fundamentalists, or most of them, tended to be content to let the rest of the world go on in its sinful ways, as long as they weren’t forced to participate. So often they shunned political activity, rarely seeking public office and in some cases not even voting. (As J. Burke has told us.) They tended to avoid sending their children to university unless absolutely necessary – to study business or engineering, for example, or nursing or medicine. They thought the universities taught spiritual and moral corruption and atheism. But though they disapproved of the teaching of universities, they didn’t want to get involved in universities, take them over, and turn them into conservative religious institutions. They simply avoided them. For higher education in religious matters, they sent their kids to religiously-controlled colleges and Bible colleges. But they didn’t want the state to start funding such private colleges. And many of them were happy when school prayers and Bible readings and other religious exercises were banned in the early 1960s, because those exercises and prayers often reflected mainstream Protestant beliefs which some of the fundamentalists rejected. No Jehovah’s Witness or Adventist, for example, wants his kids to get religious education in a public school setting from an Episcopalian or Presbyterian. So many fundamentalists were supporters of the complete secularization of the school system.

In short, fundamentalists for the most part were a quiet bunch, out of the mainstream of American society, who didn’t want to force their beliefs onto anyone else, didn’t want public institutions to promote religion, etc. But that seemed to change somewhere around the 1970s. A number of people of fundamentalist leanings (by no means all, since there are still plenty of fundamentalists with separationist tendencies) seemed to want to influence the general society, the laws, and so on, to reform society in a more Christian direction. They seemed to be animated by the view that America was originally a Christian nation and should become one again. I think the perception of fundamentalists as forcing their views on others comes from this later phase of fundamentalism.

So we really have two fundamentalisms, existing side by side, a more passive group which, like Greta Garbo, only wants to be left alone, and couldn’t care less what morality the general culture has, or what laws the state has, as long as they aren’t forced to go along (e.g., forced to have blood transfusions), and another group which wants to morally reform society in accord with a Christian model of what the good society should look like. These are two very different political stances.

Whether the Biblical interpretation and theology of these two groups differ substantially, I couldn’t say – someone who has made a special study of fundamentalism would have to answer that one.

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What is interesting is that the Christian Fundamentalist movement was fueled in part by attacking non-orthodox sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses. I guess it was fundamentalist vs. fundamentalist.

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I would fully agree that fundamentalism can play out very differently in different circumstances. Adding to what you describe, home schooling is a common feature of modern christian fundamentalism. I once knew a very fundamentalist family with 7 children, all of whom were home schooled. On top of that, their parents were heavily into the Sovereign Citizens movement (i.e. “Paper People”), which could be termed as a heavily distorted constitutional fundamentalism. I worked with the oldest sons in their bee keeping business when I was a very young man, and the things I heard and saw were jaw dropping. Good people, but the amount of paranoia, distortion, and closed-mindedness was more than I have ever seen. It was a real eye opener.

Growing up in the Reagan years certainly colors my views on this subject, but I can’t help but think that the Moral Majority was trying to fight back against the changes that came about during that time. It wasn’t so much that they began to push for social changes, but rather were pushing to return society to what it was before. They were quiet before because they already had what they wanted. In the Bible belt, evolution was already outlawed in schools and creationism was already taught. Homosexuality wasn’t tolerated at all, and feminism was scoffed at.

When fundamentalists lose a majority or lose political power, then it makes sense to swing the opposite way and start to cordon themselves off from society.

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