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Fundamentalist (. From English fundamentalism composed of fundamental and ism ; derived from latin fundamentum , base ',' base ',' base ') is a belief intuition or attitude, characterized by an uncompromised adherence to ideology or religious features principles and determines political action. In its original sense, fundamentalism denotes a direction and movement in American Protestantism that assumes that the Bible, as the direct word of God, is free of errors and mistakes. (Christian fundamentalism )

In a broader sense, fundamentalism describes an exaggerated form of ethnic-cultural or religious identity that is often characterized by extreme traditionalism and authoritarianism .

In particular after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , fundamentalism also became a political catchphrase, especially for Islamist endeavors. In a broader sense, fundamentalism behaves in an "ambivalent" to negative way towards modernity and demands a return to the roots of a certain religion or ideology, which, if necessary , should be enforced with radical and sometimes intolerant means. The charge of fundamentalism is also related to social or political groups that - allegedly or actually - set their ideological orientation absolutely and fight for social supremacy. Fundamentalism is implemented through a strongly polarized interpretation of a final justification and often goes against people of different faiths.

Origin of the term

The word fundamentalism first appeared in connection with a series of publications The Fundamentals A Testimony to the Truth published by Reuben Archer Torrey , which turned against liberal theology and in particular the historical-critical method . Among the authors were well-known conservative theologians such as Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield . The five essential points of their stance were summarized by the General Conference of the Presbyterian Church in 1910 :

The attitude represented in the Fundamentals is not enough to define Christian fundamentalism clearly. Christian fundamentalism differs from other currents through a biblical interpretation of the Bible, which is so closely linked to the belief in salvation that Christians who think differently are denied their Christianity. In addition, there is a conservative political stance and the will to enforce religiously based convictions politically.

Fundamentalist thinking and conflict with the environment

Sociologically, fundamentalism - not just the Christian one, from which the term is derived - is seen as an expression of a radical mindset. To the extent that a fundamentalist expression of thinking or belief derives norms of action whose individual and social validity goes beyond the circle of adherents of the respective thought, belief or ideology, the conflict with the environment is already mapped out by the nature of the justification of the norms .

Fundamentalism is usually understood as a reaction to a softening of beliefs that were at the beginning of the respective belief or ideology. The adjustment to current living conditions or the ethical compromise appear problematic or even impossible in a fundamentalist worldview. Fundamentalism understands these adaptations as a betrayal of the founding understanding of belief or ideology. In this sense, fundamentalism can arise again and again at border and mixing zones between the high religions, in which representatives of minorities defend themselves against the assimilation already partially or completely carried out by their fellow believers and reflect on their roots of belief. In particular, fundamentalism can be understood as a partial or complete rejection of modernity with its globalization and commercialization of important areas of life, its value relativism , individualism and rationalism . In contrast to traditionalism , which seeks to defend the inherited cultural and social traditions against changes, fundamentalism tries to reverse their questioning by modernity. In this respect, it is itself a modern phenomenon. Criticism of fundamentalism is first made in the Age of Enlightenment . So criticized z. B. the deist Benjamin Franklin the religious zealot from his point of view backward, authoritarian German and Bohemian immigrants in Pennsylvania , which he described as a Colony of Aliens .

In the modern society described by Max Weber , this polarization of the justification of norms follows the contrast between the concepts of a conviction ethics and an ethics of responsibility that he also describes .

Fundamentalism creates a line of conflict along which the concept of pluralism becomes a reproach for those who consider historical processes of adaptation to be indispensable. On the other hand, the term fundamentalism finds its polemical use in that it stands for an inability to compromise or an inability to adapt to changing circumstances, while at the same time it is denied that the fundamentalist attitude actually does justice to the founding understanding of belief or ideology.

Since every belief and every ideology already changes the foundational understanding through the process of understanding and appropriation by every thinking and believing subject ( hermeneutics ) and adjusts it to the historical situation, every conviction in its followers in the course of history gives rise to both adaptation and fundamentalism.

Further use of the term

In popular parlance, the term fundamentalism sometimes includes indiscriminately conservative religious groups, violent members of certain ethnic groups with more or less religious or religious-morphic motivation, or terrorists . This vagueness also makes this term problematic.

The historian Hartmut Lehmann writes : So far, it is unclear whether the term fundamentalism is more useful than polemics . Although there are overlaps among the group types mentioned, they cannot in principle be equated. The term also loses its meaning if reference is not made to the respective foundations. Fundamentalists are generally characterized by the fact that they refer to certain concrete bases (or what they understand by them) of their religion (or occasionally also used in a broader sense: their party, ideology) and do not allow any discussion about them.

The term can be used to suggest intolerance , radicalism and the resulting willingness to use violence, although this partly corresponds to the expressed self-image of the group.

Deviating from its original restriction to religious dogmas, the term is also applied to secular ideologies. This goes back to a formal concept of fundamentalism, according to which a social movement is to be classified as fundamentalist if it defines its religious, ethnic or ideological orientation as absolute and at the same time fights expansively for control of a higher social center of power . Alternative green of - Accordingly - mostly critical or derogatory Fundi or market fundamentalism spoken.

Self-image and orientations

Fundamentalism, which can be seen as a fundamental counter-movement against modernity , sees the fundamental principles of a religion endangered by relativism , sexual self-determination , pluralism , historicism , tolerance and the lack of authority . He sees a means to achieve this in political engagement. Some fundamentalist groups attack the separation of religion and state or church and state , which is common in Western countries , in order to be able to enforce their goals with state-political means, others advocate a strict separation of religion and state, and still others represent an ideological neutrality of the state to both religions and non-religious worldviews.

A fundamentalist worldview is often shaped by a dualistic concept of decline , according to which the followers of the true and the good are in a fight against the bad, the bad, those who think differently and those who believe differently .

The demarcation to supporters of conservative or orthodox tendencies of religions ( orthodoxy ) or ideologies is particularly controversial . They are also critical or negative about current developments , but adopt a rather moderate stance. Conservatives and Orthodox prefer to continue the actually existing traditions of their immediate ancestors, while fundamentalists believe they can at least for their own members, and sometimes for society as a whole, return to an assumed original state of bygone times.

Another characteristic of fundamentalism is the often uncritical reception of sacred texts or the rejection of critical , scientific examination of religious texts (see verbal inspiration ).

In terms of the sociology of religion , fundamentalists often form smaller groups within large religions that stand out from the majority because they have betrayed the fundamental principles of the religion. If one understands fundamentalism as a movement back to the sources of religion, then the reformers were like the humanists with their demand back to the sources! also a kind of fundamentalist. Islamic scholars such as Olivier Roy (e.g. in his book The Islamic Way to the West - Globalization | Uprooting | Radicalization , German edition Pantheon 2006) differentiated among other things a militant Islamism (or Islamist terrorism ) and a neo-fundamentalism .

Such groups may be theologically fundamentalists, but they also appear among new religious movements . (See also: totalitarianism )

Religious expressions

Literature (chronological)

  • Thomas Meyer : Fundamentalism: uprising against modernity. Reinbek near Hamburg 1989, ISBN 3-499-12414-9 .
  • Martin Riesebrodt: Fundamentalism as a patriarchal protest movement: American Protestants (1910-28) and Iranian Shiites (1961-79) in comparison . Tübingen 1990, ISBN 3-16-145669-6 .
  • Stephan Pfürtner : Fundamentalism - The Flight into the Radical . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1991, ISBN 3-451-04031-X .
  • Helmut Dubiel : The fundamentalism of modernity. In: Merkur, 1992, Issue 9, pp. 0447-0762, ISBN 3-12-973522-4 .
  • Hubertus Mynarek : Prohibition of Thinking - Fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam . 1992, ISBN 3-926901-45-4 .
  • Martin E. Marty, R. Scott Appleby (Eds.): Fundamentalisms observed . (The Fundamentalism project; v. 1). University of Chicago Press, Chicago a. a. 1994, XVI, ISBN 0-226-50878-1 .
  • Andreas Becke: Fundamentalism in India? Secularism and communalism using the example of Ayodhya. In: Journal for Mission Studies and Religious Studies , Volume 78, 1994, Issue 1, pp. 3–24, ISSN  0044-3123
  • Martin E. Marty, R. Scott Appleby (Eds.): Fundamentalisms and the State. Remaking Polities, Militance, and Economies . (The Fundamentalism project; v. 3). University of Chicago Press, Chicago a. a. 1996, IX, ISBN 0-226-50884-6 .
  • Hubert Schleichert : How to discuss with fundamentalists without losing your mind. Guide to subversive thinking. Munich: Beck, 1997
  • Olivier Roy : The Failure of Political Islam. Tauris, London 1999, ISBN 1-85043-880-3 .
  • Karen Armstrong : The Battle for God, London 2000; German edition: In the fight for God - Fundamentalism in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-88680-769-X .
  • Stephan Holthaus , Fundamentalism in Germany: The struggle for the Bible in Protestantism of the 19th and 20th centuries. 2nd Edition. Bonn: Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft, 2003, ISBN 3-932829-85-9 .
  • Karen Armstrong: In the fight for God. Fundamentalism in Christianity, Judaism and Islam . Siedler, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-88680-769-X .
  • Olivier Roy: The Islamic Way to the West. Globalization, uprooting and radicalization. Pantheon, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-570-55000-1 .
  • Clemens Six, Martin Riesebrodt, Siegfried Haas (eds.): Religious Fundamentalism. From colonialism to globalization . StudienVerlag, Innsbruck a. a. 2004, ISBN 3-7065-4071-1 .
  • Thomas Schirrmacher , fundamentalism. When religion becomes violence , SCM Hänssler, Holzgerlingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-7751-5203-7 .
  • Harald Schmid : Religious and secular threat narratives. A typology of fundamentalism. In: Sir Peter Ustinov Institute (ed.): Fundamentalism: Current Phenomena in Religion, Society and Politics, Vienna 2011, pp. 35–47.

Web links

Wiktionary: Fundamentalism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Fundamentalism in, accessed on September 20, 2017.
  2. ^ "Fundamentalism" , DWDS , accessed on September 21, 2017.
  3. Oliver Hämmig: Between Two Cultures: Tensions, Conflicts and How to Cope with Them in the Second Generation of Foreigners. Springer Verlag 2013, p. 130.
  4. Jan Ross : What is fundamentalism? ; Die Zeit issue No. 40/2001
  5. ^ Reuben Archer Torrey (Ed.): The Fundamentals A Testimony to the Truth
  6. ^ JI Packer: Fundamentalism and the Word of God, London, Inter-Varsity Press, 1958
  7. Reinhard Hempelmann (Ed.) Panorama der neue Religiosität, p. 423ff, Gütersloh, 2005, ISBN 3-579-02320-9 .
  8. Thomas Meyer , Fundamentalism. An introduction , VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2009.
  9. Gottfried Küenzlen , sv Fundamentalism II. Religious History, in: Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart , 4th edition, (study edition) UTB, Volume 3, p. 415.
  10. Simon Schama , The American Future: From the Pilgrim Fathers to Barack Obama. 2nd Edition. Lonson: Vintage 2009, p. 240 f.
  11. Hartmut Lehmann: Introduction. In: Hartmut Lehmann, Ruth Albrecht (Hrsg.): History of Pietism. Volume 4: World of Faith and Worlds of Life. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2004, p. 11.
  12. Hans-Heinrich Nolte : World history of the 20th century . Böhlau, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-205-78402-9 , p. 67.
  13. Heinrich Schäfer: Fundamentalisms in religious and secular garb. The struggle for interpretative sovereignty in a global political culture. In: Fritz Erich Anhelm (Ed.): Reasonable Belief Between Fundamentalism and Secularism. Protestants in the globalized world. (Loccumer Protocols 34/08). Rehburg-Loccum: Evangelical Academy 2008: 19–42, p. 24.
  14. Manfred Prisching: Fundamentalism from the perspective of the social sciences. In: Kurt Salamun (ed.): Fundamentalism "interdisciplinary" . LIT, Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-8258-7621-7 , pp. 243-294, esp. 244, 284.