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Religious Fundamentalism And Politics Essay

1296 words - 6 pages

Fundamentalism is rooted in American Protestantism where conflicts arose because of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century movement known as the Modernist Controversy. It concerned the leaning of some Christians toward intellectual developments such as evolutionary biology, which challenged the Bible’s account of creation. Gradually, Protestant denominations separated into two camps, modernists or liberals and traditionalists or conservatives. Liberals contended that believers should adjust their beliefs according to scientific and scholarly findings, while conservatives maintained that believers should continue to view the Bible as unerring and the ultimate truth (Weinberg ...view middle of the document...

From 1910 to 1915, a series of twelve pamphlets called “The Fundamentals” was published that articulated the views of conservatives. Those who supported their position started using “the Fundamentals” as a term for anti-modernism. By 1920, they were calling themselves Fundamentalists. However, by that time it was clear that they were losing the battle as liberals were taking over in one denomination after another. A sign of declining conservative influence and it’s estrangement from the mainstream was the Scopes trial in 1925. As a response to the loss of ecclesiastical power and the belief that sinfulness pervaded society at large, conservatives withdrew from modernist Protestantism and created their own institutions including schools, publishing houses, religious conferences, and seminaries. This withdrawal had political implications because not only did they separate themselves from other Protestants, they isolated themselves from the political process. Religious conservatives became more marginalized as the majority of Protestants were engaging in the politics of secular issues and social reform (Weinberg and Pedahzur, 2003).
In the 1930s, the Fundamentalist movement established a telecast and print industry of its own, created parachurch organizations to meet the spiritual needs of groups such as youth, single people, and veterans, and found new ways to address the religious issues of common people. They were extremely successful in passing their beliefs on to their children. Although historic Fundamentalism was developed before World War I, it was instrumental in the evangelical, Pentecostal, and charismatic revivals post-World War II, and the rise of the Christian Right in the 1970s and 1980s (Weinberg and Pedahzur, 2003).
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of political and economic upheaval in the United States, crime and racial tensions in cities, and a poor economy led to a renewed suspicion of government and its ability to handle the country’s social and political problems. Conservatives were in a position to take advantage of what was seen as the intrusion of a permissive and chaotic society with their views on limited government, protection of “traditional” values, and a strong national defense. Another issue that drew conservatives together was the Supreme Court ruling in 1973, Roe v. Wade, which confirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion. Most Catholics, political conservatives, and religious fundamentalists believed that abortion was murder under any circumstance and organized to support politicians who agreed with them (Conservatism and the Rise, n.d.).
In the early 1980s, politically minded conservative groups began to form in an attempt to influence public policy. The Moral Majority was led by a Baptist minister named Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition was headed by Pat Robertson, and by the 1990s they were powerful in the Republican Party. The “Old Right”, or moderates, in the...

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