Peter Cameron "Fundamentalism and Freedom"

FUNDAMENTALISM (from Peter Cameron's "Fundamentalism and Freedom" (Doubleday; Sydney: 1995.)

To reduce that to convenient headings, the Fundamentalist is uncomfortable with freedom, truth, and dissent.' and very much at home with authority, obedience, and conformity But the most striking feature of the Fundamentalist is that, whether he is conscious of it or not, his approach results in the total contra­diction of what he professes to believe. p7

They will be fearful in the face of any challenge to their security and brutal in their reaction; they will seek to bolster their security by persuading others of its validity.; and those others will be persuaded because of their own increasing sense of insecurity in the modern world.

...the key concepts being security and power

...the Fundamentalist is usually both a bully and a coward. ...the potential bully in them responds eagerly to authority and looks forward to the time when they will exercise that authority; while the most bullying of the bosses tend to shelter behind the more cowardly and get them to do their dirty work for them. for the convert ... The Fundamentalist deals in absolutes. ... "We have the answer. The answer is to ask no questions. Everything is set out ion the Holy Book. Simply obey and you will find happiness - in other words, security."

... Argument, debate, the possibility that they might be wrong - these are not on the agenda. In any other walk of life they would be regarded as unhinged. Very few of them have ever been exposed to the simplest form of biblical criticism, yet they feel qualified to tell people who have spent half a lifetime on the subject that they are barking up he wrong tree. It's rather like witchdoctor medicine confronted with real medicine. The primitive reaction is one of fear, suspicion and hostility - out with the spears and shields. And the witchdoctors themselves, of course, have vested interests to protect: their positions of control and authority. naturally they resist.

...Fundamentalists need an enemy; an enemy both gives them their own identity and unites them. ...they stand for nothing positive at all - simply obedience to rules and the condemnation of those who break them.

...Fundamentalists are impervious to rational argument. They are convinced that they are God's chosen instrument and that their victims are agents of the devil. They need to be convinced of this, because it is what gives them purpose to their lives. Fundamentalism's real purpose is not to save but to condemn: for the dissenter or for the outsider it is dangerous almost be definition.

... the danger is manifested in the methods used. No holds are barred. All is fair in holy war. The end always justifies the means. ...appropriate is the Old Testament norm, according to which the apostate who deviates from true doctrine contaminates the people of God and must be weeded out and burned.

The pattern therefore is one of private hearings, and stacked committees, and kangaroo courts, or - more simply and more devastatingly - a behind-the-scenes verdict and a sentence of ostracism with no possibility of appeal.

... a closed system of rules and obedience, and authoritarian control, and rigid conformity.

Instead of a religion of love which proceeds by invitation, it is a religion of fear which proceeds by intimidation.

...Fundamentalism is wrong, it is a distortion of Christianity, in fact it is its complete contradiction. ... it masquerades as the truth. Christianity is not a matter of obeying commandments, or of obtaining salvation through the acceptance of an authoritative holy book, or of believing in certain propositions like a physical resurrection. the irony is that what Fundamentalist Christianity teaches is exactly the sort of thing which the founder of Christianity came to warn people about.

...Fundamentalism ... thrives on protective stupidity.

...fear in the face of any challenge to the status quo; indoctrination in order to prevent dissent, and brutality in suppressing dissent; the exaltation of authority and rules and control and manipulation; and certainty on the part of those in charge that they possess the truth, hand in hand with an actual perversion of the truth into mere expediency. p. 10 ff