Characteristics of Religious Fundamentalism

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Characteristics of Religious Fundamentalism

Donald Taylor defines Fundamentalism as involving a group of people

who perceive a challenge an ultimate authority, usually God, in which

they believe, they decide the challenge cannot be tolerated and

reaffirm their belief in the authority and oppose the challengers,

often using political means o further their cause.

One characteristic of religious Fundamentalism is that most

Fundamentalist groups have a charismatic, authoritarian leader. This

person is usually male, who may claim to be divinely informed. An

example of this was the Christian Fundamentalist People's Temple

religious cult led by Reverend Jim Jones. He had such control over his

followers that when he asked them to take their own lives in a mass

suicide, they did so willingly, with mothers even feeding cyanide

mixed in Kool-Aid to their children.

Another characteristic of Fundamentalist religion is that

Fundamentalists are the supporters of a minority viewpoint. They see

themselves as the righteous remainders of 'traditional' religious

understanding. Even when they are numerically a majority, they

perceive themselves as a minority. This means the can allow themselves

to 'stand up' for 'traditional' values and can, in doing this, oppress

others. For example in some cases Islamic Fundamentalists have taken

over Eastern countries (thus growing to become the majority

suppressing the minority of non-Fundamentalists). They have insisted

upon 'traditional' values being upheld; they had little contact with

the Western world and women were made to cover their entire bodies and

dismissed from work outside the home.


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...ews say 'Blessed art thou o

Lord, that I was not born a woman.' With this at the very core of

religiosity it isn't difficult to see why it is sexist, but having men

in power in churches and religion serves to compound it. Even things

as central to religions as female images compound female oppression.

Female deities are found in all religions and always take on either

the motherly, caring role or appear dangerous and threatening. In few

are they the dominant image.

Sexist notions in religious books and passive, subjugated female

deities at the core of world religions can only serve to have negative

consequences for women. Although religion has positive effects on

women, these could be achieved without the sexist ideology, and in

conclusion it is true that religion, in general, has negative

consequences for women.
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