Religious fundamentalism and extremism: A paradigm analysis
Pratt, D. (2007). Religious fundamentalism and extremism: A paradigm analysis. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions Biennial Conference, Queenstown, 6-8 June 2007.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/754
Broadly speaking, the term ‘fundamentalism’ today names a religio-political perspective found in most if not all major religions in the contemporary world. At the present time it is associated with various expressions of religious extremism and, most worryingly, with religiously-motivated terrorism. In particular – though by no means exclusively – it is Islamic extremism and allied terrorist activities which are linked in our day to the idea of fundamentalism. While there have been many studies undertaken on so-called Islamic fundamentalism, the fact remains that it and, indeed, religious fundamentalism, in general are much misunderstood. In my view it is imperative to attempt to understand critically any potential – let alone real – relationship between fundamentalism and terrorism. It is, I suggest, the contemporary religious challenge, without equal. How can we explain and understand the difference between the religious fundamentalist who, in essence, simply holds an absolute truth- and value-perspective, on the one hand, and the so-called fundamentalist who engages in the extremist and violent behaviours of terrorism, on the other?