How Much Damage Religious Fundamentalists do?
Stalin attended a theological seminary and almost became a priest, Mao was fighting eradicate religions, and the annihilation of the Native Americans was in the name of progress and religion too.
But religious persecution, of the Christian fundamentalist (“I am right and all others wrong” kind) did a lot of damage by terrorising entire societies. There is no negotiation or room for differences with them (do the Taleban sound familiar?)
Emperor Charlemagne in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain in one day on 5/27/1234 near Altenesch (Germany). Population numbers in those days were also lower than today, so killing 16, 000 persons removed a significant part of the population. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists justify their actions by calling Western colonialism and post-war Western Imperialism by the chilling term al-Salibiyyah: the Crusade". (Karen Armstrong 2000).
Can Religious Fundamentalists do Any Good?
Religious fundamentalists function on a “If you are not with us, you are against us” principle made so notorious by George Bush. Extremists religious communities are very close knit and they support members much more than social security. Membership does have privileges, but they are withdrawn the moment you start dissenting. Earlier, dissenters were ‘removed’ too.
I am not making any apology for any fundie. I’m awfully glad that the people of India did not put their faith in Hindu fundamentalism in the 2009 elections.
Liberalism and Not Fundamentalism is Rising?
Copernicus Marketing Consulting and Research, an American firm that helps Fortune 500 companies make better marketing decisions, reveals that the number of Americans who consider themselves fundamentalist is growing at a much faster rate than those with less orthodox or evangelical views has no basis in fact.
In 1972, 18% of American considered themselves ‘liberals’
In 2002, 29% of American considered themselves ‘liberals’
In 1972, 27% of American considered themselves ‘fundamentalists’
In 2002, 30% of American considered themselves ‘fundamentalists’
For various reasons, we have had slight difficulties in getting figures for Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
Yes, it seems that 'fundies' of different sorts put a terrible twist to things, mostly for their own benefit. We could be snug and say that 'fundies' are deluded as they call all others deluded. But then doesn’t it become a case of the blind leading the blind? I'm comfortable with people taking different roads or rather making different roads as long as they don't force it on me.
Here’s a very nice article about Christian Fundamentalism by Mark Gordon Brown, which inspired me to write this post.
Ref: Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (p.180)