2017-01-06 15:38:15 UTC
CREST Security Review (Issue 2, pp. 26-27)
LINDA WOODHEAD, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
While many people have observed that religion is in decline in some parts of
the world, less have noticed that the nature of religion has also been
changing especially since the 1980s. What we have been seeing is a gradual
hardening of religion, with more extreme, fundamentalist forms growing in
influence, and more moderate, mainstream forms declining. Why has this
happened, and could it be that legislators, inspired by an ideal of
religious freedom, have unwittingly been complicit?
EXTREMIST VERSUS MODERATE RELIGION
I use the words extremism, fundamentalism and sectarian or illiberal
religion to refer to the same phenomenon. Religious extremism is of course
not the same as violent religious extremism, which is a small subset of it.
Synthesising a massive amount of research on the phenomenon, we can define
it as that form of religion which maintains that:
1. there is only one body of truth (deriving directly from God/a higher
2. that only one particular group has access to this truth
3. that the truth can be stated in clear, fundamental propositions
4. that all who disagree and disobey are enemies of God.
THE DYNAMIC OF EXTREMISM