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Courage & Character: An End to Fundamentalism

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The war on terror, from America's position, is a fight against radical, fundamentalist Muslims who have adopted an extreme interpretation of the Qur'an and are using that strict adherence to scripture to justify a holy war against the West.


I think I speak for most Americans when I say that we see the attitudes and actions of such extremists as completely dumbfounding and abhorrent, to say the least. And, such fanaticism polarizes us from the Muslim community at large, because we simply do not understand the Muslim faith. It is easy to reject all Muslims, or at least marginalize them, and promote that which we do understand: adherence to what some believe to be our "Christian," American heritage and "patriotism."


To better understand fundamentalism, I opened my dictionary to see the definition (Webster's New Computer Desk Dictionary). It reads, "Religious beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible."


Wait, I assumed it would say "religious book," or "principles." No, it said, "the Bible."


“But, the Bible is the Christian scriptures; that can't be right,” I thought.


So, I decided I would try another dictionary.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary online read:

 Fundamentalism: "Pronunciation: -t & l-"i-z&m1 a often capitalized : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching b : the beliefs of this movement c : adherence to such beliefs 2 : a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles." 

Whoops. Christian, again. Shall I keep trying until I find one that says "Radical Islamists?"


Fundamentalism is extremism. For the Muslim faith, these terrorists are extreme radicals, a far departure from the heart of the peaceful, loving Muslim faith. In the Christian faith, so too, there are fanatical, uncompromising militants. Polarization of one faith produces extremists of another to react and respond. It is a dangerous combination.


Pat Roberston's recent endorsement of Rudy Giuliani sites his concern for the war on terror. He was willing to fore go his strict adherence on some social issues for the more global concern and fight against the radical terrorists. He believes Giuliani to be the best Republican for the job (after all, he still must vote Republican no matter what). Robertson is a strict Christian, fundamentalist. And, I would imagine he would like nothing better than to be on the forefront of a "good vs. evil" holy war. Endorsing Giuliani gives him that access and power, should Rudy win next November.


Is it me? Doesn't this sound alarms?


Sadly, I don't think so. I think that, cloaked in terms like "patriotism" and "America's Christian heritage," citizens blindly jump on the bandwagon. Many people just want to make sure that we win the war on terror...this battle against the "evil doers." And, those who identify themselves as Christians (not fundamentalist, but Christian by upbringing or choice), believe that they are doing the right thing to support this administration and any candidate running in the 2008 election who will conduct themselves in the same manner. They want to be patriotic. They want to support the troops. They want to be on the side of "good." Don't we all.


Problem is, we can't fight fire, with fire. One form of fundamentalism can't be the answer to another form of fundamentalism. We must be thinking people. Drawing a line in the sand and saying, "If you're good, you side with us. If you're evil, stay on the other side of the line." It isn't that simple. Both sides think they are "good." Both sides believe they speak for God. Both sides believe their cause is righteous and right.


But turning this into a spiritual warfare is at the heart of all Fundamentalists, no matter what form of fundamentalism a person subscribes to. It elevates their cause to be beyond nations, beyond governments. It raises it to a "holy war." Once it becomes "good vs. evil," it no longer has a place in diplomacy. It is winning at all the defense of "good," at the defense of God. Good must win. Diplomacy, to radicals, is compromise. You cannot negotiate with evil. It is is making friends with the devil himself, they reason. And, it is dangerous reasoning.


Extremism, no matter what religion, is perilous. Government in the hands of Fundamentalists is a government no longer ruled by diplomacy, reason, balance, or rational leaders. It is blinding. It is the "bring it on" mentality that leads us into a forever, non-ending Armageddon.


Again, to make sure I understood the term I am using, I looked to the Merriam-Webster, online dictionary.  (I want to make sure it is their interpretation, not mine):

 Armageddon: Pronunciation: "är-m&-'ge-d & nEtymology: Greek ArmageddOn, HarmagedOn, scene of the battle foretold in Revelations 16:14-161 a : the site or time of a final and conclusive battle between the forces of good and evil b : the battle taking place at Armageddon 2 : a usually vast decisive conflict or confrontation 

We must end Fundamentalism. Both Christians and Muslims have a responsibility to speak out against such radical branches of their faiths and join together to show where they are more alike than different. They must advocate balance, reason, and diplomacy. They must support and honor each other. To leave it to the Fundamentalist to speak for all of us is catastrophic passivity.

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Born in Texas, in 1954, I have grown up a Methodist, become a fundamentalist right, winged Christian, left the church, returned to the church, and now am just thinking for myself and have a few observations along the way. I've been a Celebrity (more...)

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Courage & Character: An End to Fundamentalism