Why or why not is religious fundamentalism viewed as a source of conflict within social orders?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fundamentalism is a source of conflict within social orders for a couple of reasons.  One reason is because fundamentalism is binary in its distinction of the world.  There is a right way and there is a wrong way.  Moreover, in the case of religious fundamentalism, that which is wrong is sinful or evil.  Fundamentalism causes conflict within social orders because "the other" is something to be destroyed or overcome.  For example, in the American rural life of the 1920s, what was happening with American society in terms of alcoholic consumption, the rise of immortality, and freedom in terms of sexual promiscuity reflected not just "bad choices."  Rather, it was the emergence of the devil, of the darkest of forces that had to be confronted with perceived righteousness.  In Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Western forces as well as those who were sympathetic to the Shah were not simply seen as "different."  They were representative of "the Great Satan."  Fundamentalism causes conflict within social orders because it views reality in a binary oppositional manner.

Religious fundamentalism causes conflict in another way in social orders.  Religious fundamentalism is based out of something so fervent and so zealous that it has to be proven again and again.  Religious fundamentalism cannot be stagnant.  It has to be repeatedly proven because one's faith in the divine is never concrete.  It is always perceived to be tempted and continually challenged.  In this condition, there will always be conflict between those who are "believers" and the "non- believers."  In its very nature, there can be no negotiation or complacency here and, in this, conflict becomes inevitable.  Religious fundamentalism, a notion in which individuals seek to be closer to the divine, ends up becoming a more limiting exercise in which more are excluded to demonstrate spiritual fervor.  This ends up becoming a source of conflict within social orders.