The term religious fundamentalism was used at first to describe some people in the Protestant community in the United States in the early 20th century. These people had a set of well defined ("fundamental") values. These values were in opposition to more modern ideas. The group also said it was important to stick to what faith (the Bible) told them. Today, the use of the term is more general.
Religious fundamentalism has been prevalent in society since its beginnings in the late 19th- and early 20th-century. People today who study religious fundamentalism see it as a response to modern society. Today society is not as simple as it was: many people live in societies that can be difficult to understand. Changes in familiar things can make people feel unsafe. So some people look in their religion to see something that does not change. They also want rules about how to act that do not change. So they see their religion as this thing that does not change.
When people look at religion this way they see the ideas in the religion as absolute. This means that it is not possible for them to change. When religion is seen as absolute it becomes fundamentalism.
People can be any religion and be fundamentalists.
The term (word or group of words) 'religious fundamentalist' [change]
Some people who are called religious fundamentalists do not like that name, as the term has other meanings. They do not like it because 'religious fundamentalist' has some negative ideas about it. Many people who are politically progressive or liberal sometimes do not like religious fundamentalists. They believe bad things about them like that they are not clever, they are not educated, or that they do not respect people's human rights.
Some people who are Christian fundamentalists do like that term and use it to name themselves. But they do not like being called religious fundamentalists because Islamic fundamentalists are in this same group.
Issues of religious fundamentalism [change]
Not all religious fundamentalists believe the same things. But there are many issues that they have strong beliefs about. Some of these issues are similar even in different religions. Some of these issues are: