Politics in Minutes (2016)

Religious fundamentalism

The liberal notion of allowing freedom of religion has helped to soften attitudes towards the separation of religion and state, and to a large extent religions have gradually accepted ideas – such as attitudes to sexuality and gender equality – that previously were unthinkable. But there are factions within some religions that do not accept these changes, and believe that the doctrine of their faith is immutable.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the term ‘fundamentalism’ first appeared to refer to some of the Christian communities in the USA who insisted on a literal interpretation of Christian scriptures. More recently, the word has been more associated with Islam, and a particularly hardline observance of the Qur’an and sharia. It has also been used to describe some of the more extremely orthodox branches of Judaism. Because their beliefs often clash with the values of modern democracy – and those of other religions – religious fundamentalist movements have become a significant political force.