Evangelical Greed

Fundamentalism may be anarchy, a re-post for the times.

European Muslims marchReligious and political radicalism is not imported from the Middle East.

Olivier Roy at Eurozine asserts from the Institute for Human Sciences that religious revival among Europe’s Muslims reflects many of the dynamics of contemporary American evangelical movements.

No surprise then that, instead of being tolerant and liberal, it is a movement based on dogmatism, communitarianism, and scripturalism.

“This explains the affinities between American Protestant fundamentalism and Islamic Salafism: both reject culture, philosophy, and even theology in favor of a scriptural reading of the sacred texts and an immediate understanding of truth through individual faith, to the detriment of educational and religious institutions.”

“Today, we see forms of religious revival leading to the “born again” phenomenon, in other words, people are born again into their religion [ but not the tradition of their religion]. It is perhaps the most striking phenomenon of contemporary religiosity in all denominations.

“What we have is …two totally different trends: one is the crisis of religions as institutions and cultures, the other is the return of religiosity.

“The return of religiosity acts against religion.”

It seems that fundamentalists may be religious but without religion. They haven’t the deeper wisdom of tradition nor the restraint of community, are often isolated even among others, and are carrying few of the shared principles of a religion.

Without a practice of community and without religious organizations to help make sense of spiritual longings, today’s fundamentalist makes private demands, a loudening voice of unrestrained individualists. Without a structure of fellowship and tradition, fundamentalists may be the modern anarchist demanding radical political favors.

We can hope that over a longer period, there may be a deeper want. Religion is a fellowship and joining of traditions, but today’s fundamentalist seldom reflects the aspirations of the whole and rejects the fellowship of the traditional church, synagogue or mosque, which are abandoned over the last decades.

In a siege of personal ambition and arcane belief, fundamentalism may be repelling against isolation and separateness. Alone in a stadium church or a rural congregation or alone along a street, religiosity in politics may be less a spiritual movement than an effort to force culture to deal with alienation.

Seeking to create so-called spiritual governments, railing against the state, and arguing against secular culture, fundamentalists are demanding that our state and culture serve their selfish interests.

And why not they choose anarchy? Only true church, true community and true government restrains the libertine.