Monday, 9 August 2010

Religious Fundamentalism and World Peace

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise and threatens world peace. For example:
• There exists today, and especially since 9/11, a total lack of meaningful DIALOGUE or trust between various world religions/communities.

• There are alarming signs of a growing fundamentalist approach to religion in general.

• Traditional world religious Institutions remain under constant siege.

• While the west struggles with religious doctrine the east appears mostly focused on submission.

• The Islamic world is largely portrayed in the western media as violent, archaic, anti-Semitic, and untrustworthy.

• Tribalism and fundamentalist extremist continue to radicalize the Islamic religion.
• Moderate Islamic voices are mostly silent about Muslim extremism.

• The North American Christian community is drifting increasingly closer to fundamentalism which has created a deep chasm between the 'right' and 'left' elements of the faith.

• Forces opposed to abortion have become militant.

• Religious symbols and signs are under siege. (Some are gradually being banned in some countries)

Christian Fundamentalism is perhaps best described in 'Christianity, the Complete Guide, edited by John Bowden, as follows:
Fundamentalists in any religion are essentially an opposition movement, and their characteristic beliefs can be defined just as clearly by stating what they are against as what they are for. They are above all opposed to the ongoing process of secularizing social change which is often referred Globalization to as globalization, and which brings with it the erosion of religious traditions and values, to relativism and pluralism, and to sophisticated patterns of interpretation which would , seem to qualify what is said in authoritative texts.

By contrast, fundamentalists believe in a unified and revealed truth, the sources of which are inerrant and absolutely authoritative, and allow of no misunderstanding. However, they are selective in the parts of the tradition that they emphasize, the passages of scripture that they focus on, and the features of modernity that they reject (for example, they are happy to make use of modern means of mass communication).

What fundamentalists accept or reject is largely determined by charismatic leaders who govern and guide communities and organizations, and often introduce their own highly personal emphases. Groups have firm boundaries, and there are strict rules for the behaviour of their members.

Fundamentalism in the Roman Catholic Church, in the beginning of the twentieth century was marked by strong opposition to modernism under Pope Pius X. Movements such as Opus Dei and that headed by Archbishop Lefebvre have been called 'fundamentalist', and so too have many of the standpoints taken by Pope John Paul II followed with even more strident measures by Pope Benedict XVI.

Christian fundamentalism in North America, in its extreme forms, and outside the Catholic tradition, finds its greatest sources in evangelical movements lead by the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc. Their movement is marked not only by its obsessions with conspiracy theories, magic, sexual repression, paranoia and death, but also by its infatuation with apocalyptic violence and military force.

When Christian fundamentalism clashes with Islamic fundamentalism their worlds become virtual powder kegs and frequently result in violence or war. When the Muslim community in Manhattan recently proposed to build a mosque near the site of 9/11, or ground zero, many voices were raised in opposition calling for a moratorium on the planned construction of other mosques in far less hallowed locations. Clearly, the fundamentalist world is not ready for such 'in your face' plans.

The question we must now ask ourselves is does fundamentalism reflect true Gospel values for Christians and how does it apply to the Billion or so Islamic people and their understanding of the Quran? For the sake of the future, the lives of our children, is it not time to bring meaningful dialogue to the table? Why and when did we silence the voice of compassion and religious tolerance? With the rise of religious fundamentalism we need to heed to advice given by the silenced voice of Catholic theologian Hans Kung, when he said "There can be no peace amongst nations without peace amongst religions; No peace is possible between religions without dialogue between them; and no dialogue can be had between the religions without investigation of their individual foundations."

1 comment:

Hugh Vincelette said...

Hans Kung was right in his assessment of the global situation between religions. While all have faults in their interactions with & attitudes towards others; Islam would appear to be the most fiercely opposed to examination of their roots.