Activity 1: Discussion and Written Assignment—Fundamentalisms
Fundamentalism in religious traditions reflects a literal interpretation of sacred texts and sometimes contributes to violence toward those who do not accept the fundamentalist perspective. Scholars of sacred text often debate how the text should be interpreted. Many acknowledge the importance of understanding the context of the text in order to render an interpretation that reflects an accurate meaning for contemporary times. There are those who say that fundamentalism is a commitment to traditional beliefs within a religious tradition; yet, there are multiple viewpoints even among those who share some core teachings.
As you examine the readings, how do you evaluate the concept of fundamentalism? There are many forms of religious fundamentalism, such as Joel Osteen and his message of the “prosperity gospel” or militant evangelical Christians who target abortion clinics or those fundamentalists who simply love God with a firm belief that values and laws should not change. Explore the complexity of fundamentalism within different religions. In what way does fundamentalism rely on fear to motivate behavior and belief? For example, the idea that in the United States the founding fathers were the ideal men with a perfect wisdom for the creation of a nation and any social change is a threat to the future of the country. Or, the use of apocalyptic end-time fear to encourage people to finance a particular religious group for the sake of personal salvation.
Write a three–page essay that articulates a definition of fundamentalism that takes into account different social communities. Post your essay to the Dropbox as instructed by your facilitator.
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