Fundies, Fanatics, and Beliefs

“A very good real world working definition of a ‘fundamentalist’ (or “fundie”) is: a person that is 1. willing to die for their belief system, or 2. is willing to kill to defend their belief system. If a religious, or political, believer fits that mould in either way then it is safe to say they are likely a fundamentalist thinker and believer.” (Johnny Bird)

“If this is an accurate definition, which I don’t think it is, I would fall into category 1 but not into category 2. Does this make me 1/2 a fundie?

I think Jesus’ message was absolutely non-violent and his actions prove this point – as he releases his life into foreign powers to be killed (he never did fight back). Then the stories of his disciples are also in that same vein according to Acts. Later Christian narrative actually starts using ‘martyrdom accounts’ to help ease people into the fact they would likely be killed for their faith by Roman power (in certain places).

It seems to me Jesus died for his faith (and so did his disciples) but did not kill for it (and the same goes for his disciples).” (SocietyVs)

Fundamentalism refers to a belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), sometimes as a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life” (Wikipedia – Fundamentalism)

That seems like a very accurate way to coin ‘fundamentalism’ to me. The lack of movement (inflexibility), especially to the left, on many key doctrinal issues seems to be the lench-pin for fundemantalism. I think what you are describing in your defintion is not just fundamentalism – but radicalism (kind of being a ‘fanatic’ for one’s beleifs).

I admit I am a fanatic in the sense I own up to my beliefs and would be willing to lay my life down for what I believe in. However, everyone is going to live/die for something regardless if they admit to that or not. So I am not sure it is fanatical to ‘die’ for one’s beliefs – it’s a very common human experience.

Now to kill for something – that’s real fanaticism. One minute ago that human was breathing, now he is not. That’s a transfer from a normal condition to an unexpected one (death)…the unexpected thing that entered was another human with a fanatical mindest. Jealousy, makes fanatics of men wo have been estranged from their wives. Terrorism makes fanatics from a religious ideology called jihad. Gangs makes fanatics out of normal aged school kids. Fanaticism is the extreme step over the line where one will do something they would not normally do under more balanced conditions.

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6 thoughts on “Fundies, Fanatics, and Beliefs

  1. “Gangs makes fanatics out of normal aged school kids. Fanaticism is the extreme step over the line where one will do something they would not normally do under more balanced conditions.”

    I always viewd fanatics as religous in nature… I never actually looked at it that way…..interesting

  2. Yes, my explanation is not entirely a dictionary definition and it is even a very basic definition. But I was talking about real world scenarios that are not present in any literal dictionary definitions and are based on an emotional response in a real world. I know that my definition of fundamentalist is true. It does not take much thought to see that it is true in real life scenarios, whether political or religious.

    In a real world scenario, remove yourself from the dictionary, what is the actual difference between the emotional response of a ‘fundamentalist’ and a ‘fanatic.’ Religion creates both and so does politics. But if you are willing to die for a BELIEF SYSTEM then what would you call yourself? Here is the answer: A fanatic that holds fundamental beliefs that they are not willing to deny for any reason or under any threat. Is that not a fundamentalist in explanation?

    We are not willing to kill for our beliefs and others are, fine, but that does not make a hardened believer any less of a fundamentalist believer – because the two separate faiths of the individuals are probably equal in their own minds.

    • “If this is an accurate definition, which I don’t think it is, I would fall into category 1 but not into category 2. Does this make me 1/2 a fundie?”

      No, you did not accurately read the post. I used the word “or” which if you fall into either category then you are probably a fundamentalist thinker (but maybe not an actor on your beliefs) – in that you will never betray your theological position for any reason, even unto the death. Is that not also a fundamentalist position held by every radical Islamic believer? Sure it is. Then the semantics of your desired literal definitions are pointless because the emotional responses are equal.

  3. “But if you are willing to die for a BELIEF SYSTEM then what would you call yourself? Here is the answer: A fanatic that holds fundamental beliefs that they are not willing to deny for any reason or under any threat. Is that not a fundamentalist in explanation?” (Johnny)

    Maybe, if looked at in a certian way, this is fundamentalism.

    Fundamentalism is all about having a core set of princicples and then living by them – your fundamentals. In the case of the fundamentalist – these cannot be breached for them. Everyone is in this category to some degree – living by some set of rules – a paradigm.

    However, the use of the term fundie is used about those in religious systems (or even political) that step over the line – into activity we all find questionable – for the sake of their convictions.

    For example, I am pro-life on a personal level. This is a choice i have made based on my personal paradigm that is based on the texts of Christianity. There are some Christians that are pro-life that demonstrate and fight abortion. There is even a smaller class of people (fanatics) that step over the line in their fight against abortion to kill doctors and burn abortion clinics.

    Are those 3 groups to be lumped into the same fundamental category – as being pro-life? One group stand heads and tails above the rest as not just holding a fundamental stance to pro-life but also willing to do anything to see it fulfilled. The fanatics. The cross a line into religious or political zeal that puts them in a whole nother category. What we term a ‘fundie’ these days.

    Dying for something is also different than killing for something. This is evidently clear so they cannot be in the same class of definition.

    Everyone is willing to ‘live’ for something – a set of beliefs or principles that help guide their life. One could say everyone is willing to live or die for what they believe in – those set of beliefs (living and dying are on the same continuum). It cannot be said everyone will ‘kill’ for those same set of principles. Murder is not a part of that continuum.

    The people that kill for religious zeal (or even political zeal) are abriding the normality of human existence. They are admitting they are more important than the next person…they design their system to over-write the continuum of life and death…they play the role of who is master over someone’s life and time of death. Killing someone is asserting a power over that person that they don’t neccesarily want. It’s puts an inequality in the continuum which most of us shudder at.

    I think we live in a land where human equality is generally respected…human rights and freedoms are granted. This seems to ebb well with human need. I do not see a human need for killing people.

    So I think one can live their life for something (a set of beliefs and principles) and will then be remembered for that (in death). People may be living for someting (cup 1/2 full) but they are also dying for that same thing (cup 1/2 empty). People that kill for some set of beliefs are in whole different class…they do the unneedful and the unwanted.

    • There is plenty obvious truths in your statements and I do not deny any of them. Yes, of course murder and martyrdom are separate entities when examined in separate realms but in a strictly ideological sense: death for the sake of ideology/belief is equal on all points whether it be self-sacrifice (martyrdom) or a suicide bombing (murder-dom).

      The point is that the believer’s mental-belief is so entwined with the ideology (whatever it is) that death becomes secondary and is of no consequence to that particular believer – whether to self or to others – which is why suicide bombers are not afraid to: 1. kill and 2. die in the name of a belief system/ideology.

      The suicide bomber encompasses the quintessential fundamentalist, this is too obvious, but they are no more a “fundamentalist” in what they believe than as were Ghandi, Jesus, or MLK Jr. were in their rigid non-violence; which they all believed in unto death. The problem is that we (in the West) are equating ‘fundamentalism’ with overt religious violence which is a major error. Fundamentalism does not presuppose violence, fundamentalism presupposes a rigid adherence to any belief system.

      The following definition is from a dictionary: Fundamentalism is a “strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.”

      If we want to classify radical Islam as “fundie” then it is all too easy to do and it does not explain why they kill and die at will. But if we say that radical Islamic believers are fundamentally subordinate/obedient to a totalitarian and/or fascist ideology in their political-religious stance then it is obvious why they commit acts that have no regard for ‘Other’ lives. Radical Islamic believers simply do not view ‘Others’ as being equal to them because they presuppose that they have found the ‘truth’ – which all fundamentalists presuppose – and the Other is in grave error.

  4. “death for the sake of ideology/belief is equal on all points whether it be self-sacrifice (martyrdom) or a suicide bombing (murder-dom).” (Johnny)

    I like that – martydom and murderdom…I think I may use that from now on.

    I guess death is death but it is more noble to die for a cause (ie: civil rights in the 60’s) than it is to murder for a cause (ie: suicide bombers). There are some significant differences between giving your life to a cause that is non-violent than giving your life for a cause that is nothing but violent. In the same way it can be said murder, suicide, and dying of natural causes is different.

    “Fundamentalism does not presuppose violence, fundamentalism presupposes a rigid adherence to any belief system” (Johnny)

    I agree. The line is drawn between what actions a person takes on behalf of the said religious system.

    “But if we say that radical Islamic believers are fundamentally subordinate/obedient to a totalitarian and/or fascist ideology in their political-religious stance then it is obvious why they commit acts that have no regard for ‘Other’ lives.” (Johnny)

    I agree…the element that seems to change it all is ‘radicalism’ or ‘fanaticism’. I think most people of any religious or political system are fundamentalists – but not everyone supports a radical agenda for the implementation of those beliefs.

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