Faith & Fundamentalism

Photo Courtesy Of Sajia Hall Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy Of Sajia Hall Creative Commons

I once had a conversation, well it would probably best be described as a one sided tongue lashing with a friend over pancakes. I sat down with him because I had questioned an ideal of his religious framework—one that he could not reconcile. What I had not recognized at the time was that this man was a fundamentalist. 

He had a very rigid understanding of his religion, so his approach to new ideas about his religion went through 1 simple filter. Is this acceptable to my framework or not? If it didn't fit into his pre-packaged systems of approaching God then the idea must be false and subsequently stamped out. This of course leads to no new discoveries, no further conversations, and a stale faith. 

Notice I didn't say stale religion. Religion is the system, framework, and structure for how people express their faith. Faith, on the other hand, is all about belief. 

The problem is if you question someone's religion, that is the framework of how they express their faith, they believe you are questioning their faith which leads to name calling, anger, and a loss of all helpful conversation. What's disturbing is the increasingly loud torrent of religious fundamental voices. 

I would define fundamentalism as a lack of curiosity. They have it all figured out, and no idea that contradicts their religion will get through. So we have conservative fundamentalists and liberal fundamentalists, each one throwing 'heretic' at the other.


When the faith of the curious continues to shine through, fundamentalists are slowly confronted with the innate failings of their rigidity. 

I can say with great joy I am still great friends with the man who wanted to throw his coffee on my face at breakfast. He is no longer a fundamentalist either. Many other curious people of faith took the time to wisely challenge him on a regular basis. What he's found as a result is a vibrant life giving faith. 

Fundamentalism will stifle life, but a curious faith breathes into it. 

I know it very well...I used to be a fundamentalist too. 

StoriesDavid Valentine