Religious Fundamentalism

One particularly notable feature of religion in the Unites Sates has been the appearance of fundamentalist religious groups. Fundamentalism refers to “black‐and‐white” thinking that opposes modernism, or progressive thinking about religion and other social topics. Fundamentalist groups tend to oppose anything that challenges their religious group's interpretations and opinions. For instance, Christian fundamentalists believe in the literal inerrancy of the Bible, and often define themselves as theologically and ritually conservative, or even “not Catholic.” They see themselves as reacting against liberal theology.

To most Americans the term fundamentalist conjures up images of “Bible‐thumping” Protestants, which is far from the case. All denominations and groups—including those of religions like Islam—contain fundamentalist members. These activists usually think that they have a corner on “the truth,” and do not tolerate other viewpoints or practices.

The most well‐known fundamentalist denominations in the United States are the Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Seventh‐Day Adventists. Organizations such as these often become politically active, and support the conservative political “right,” including groups like the Moral Majority.