Religious fundamentalism

Authored by: Luca Ozzano

Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138826991
eBook ISBN: 9781315643922
Adobe ISBN:


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The concept of ‘religious fundamentalism’ is very widely used, but also very controversial, for both theoretical and ‘partisan’ reasons. The term was coined in the context of American Protestantism, and was reportedly used for the first time in July 1920 by pastor Curtis Lee Laws. At the time, the term was not intended as a pejorative: the members of the movement themselves adopted it to indicate their desire to return to the ‘fundamentals’ of Christianity (which also implied the creation of an organization named World Christian Fundamentals Association, and the publication of a series of books entitled Fundamentals). However, to external observers, especially in the secular mainstream media, ‘fundamentalist’ gradually became synonymous with fanatic and obscurantist.

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