Perspectives on the Core Characteristics of Religious Fundamentalism Today

Jakobus M. Vorster


The surge of religious fundamentalism is a present reality. This way of reasoning breeds ideologies that are both religious and political in nature and mount themselves against a perceived threat or enemy in order to protect their identities. These ideologies elevate certain fundamentals of a particular religion or life- and worldview to absolutes and interlace their ideas and methods around these absolutes. With a strong reactionary attitude, fundamentalist ideologies and religions easily resort to extremism, militancy, abuses of human rights and even violence. Religious fundamentalist movements share certain characteristics, although they also express features that are particular to the religious tradition from which they emerged. They have many characteristics in common, and this fact points to the possibility that fundamentalist movements emerge under the impact of rather similar processes of social transformation. The purpose of this article is to identify, by way of a comparative literary study, the most outstanding characteristics of religious fundamentalism as it appear in its most prominent manifestations in today’s world.


Fundamentalism; Biblicism; scripturalism; casuistic ethics; traditioning; prejudice; human rights; violence; in-group

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