The past century has witnessed the global growth of fundamentalist groups. These include Islamic fundamentalist countries like Iran and Afghanistan, Christian fundamentalists in the USA, Zionist fundamentalists in Israel and Hindu fundamentalists in India. Fundamentalists tend to share the common features of having a world-view that is based on a literal reading and strict adherence to the written word of holy texts. These texts become the source of traditional values and sometimes the content becomes the basis of a literal interpretation of certain truths. Fundamentalism is about the application of such ideas to a rigid faith, which is then applied to modern-day life.
Fundamentalism is rooted in words and messages of historical holy
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It is suggested that a strong and commanding leader is needed in order to support the call for a return to traditional values. Another characteristic of fundamentalism is the conviction that it is right and that all other religions are wrong. Therefore fundamentalism has no time for religious pluralism and vehemently pursues an ‘us and them’ mentality. It therefore follows that fundamentalists are often involved in conflict. For example, the motive behind Islamic terrorism is not only an anti-Western response but the view that all ‘infidels’ deserve to be killed.
There is some evidence of the political influence of the fundamentalist Christian Right over particularly Republican presidents like George W. Bush. Bill Thompson (1992) sees a parallel growth of Christian fundamentalism in the UK in the form of Pentecostal Revivalists, Anglican ‘charismatics’ and House churches. He sees these groups as ‘born again’ and the motive behind their growth as quietly filling a political vacuum in society, initially at local levels but one day at parliament level too. He sees local councils and school governing boards as targets for Christian fundamentalists, in order to gain power and exert their influence.
However, Steve Bruce questions the significance of Christian fundamentalism,