What comes to mind when you hear the term Christian fundamentalist? Many people immediately think it is someone who has ultra-conservative Christian based religious beliefs. There is a negative connotation associated as well; many think of Christian fundamentalists as closed-minded, prejudiced and discriminatory, and “right wing” when it comes to political matters. Christian fundamentalists themselves will tell you that the Bible is to be interpreted literally as it is the sacred word of God. They will also tell you that they have been “reborn” or converted, and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. If they do all of these things, they are assured that salvation will get them into heaven. They have a duty to be evangelical and share their beliefs to help others be ready because your “day” can happen anytime.
Christian fundamentalism arose in the late 19th century in the United States as a movement to keep Christian doctrines and beliefs in adherence to the Bible in a rapidly changing modern society. Advances in scientific theories such as evolution threatened traditional Christian beliefs. Early in the 20th century, fundamentalist churches were founded and “advocated as a return to primitive Christianity” (Spuhler, 1985). This movement was met with criticism from church “liberals” and modernists who wished to make biblical teachings relevant to contemporary issues. The fundamentalists who opposed the teaching of evolution were looked down upon by their critics, and labeled as “back woodsy” and ignorant. Political coalitions sprang up and took credit for influencing the elections of various high profile office holders, including President Ronald Reagan, Senators Joseph McCarthy and Barry Goldwater, and Governor George Wallace.
What are some of the influences that result in an individual becoming a Christian fundamentalist? Since religious beliefs are mainly transmitted from one generation to the next, children raised by caregivers who are Christian fundamentalists will likely follow suit. Authoritarianism is found to be greater in religions with orthodox beliefs, and it is one of the main aspects of Christian fundamentalism.
Danso, Hunsberger, and Pratt (1997) found that the parenting style of Christian Fundamentalists’ to be indirectly linked to their religious beliefs. The results of their studies suggest that parents’ right wing authoritarianism is a better predictor of their child-rearing practices when compared to their religiosity. Another finding was that fundamentalists feel it is a very important goal that their children accept the family faith, and make use of the Bible’s teachings that children should be obedient. These parents approve the use of corporal punishment, as the Bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child”. With this spelled out in the Bible, they are certain that God recommends...