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Module 1: Theocracy and Fundamentalism

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Theocracy and Fundamentalism – Lesson Summary

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Theocracy means rule by priesthood, or rule in accordance with religious principles. Theocracy in many ways is conceptually perhaps less awkward, less tricky, than fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism involves an insistence on the literal truth of a particular book, a particular set of prophecies, or principles as the only basis for any given faith. However, all religions and many political movements have had, and perhaps always have had, fundamentalist tendencies or factions.

The main themes of fundamentalism
• Religion and politics
• Anti-modernism.
• Weaponry
• Militancy and violence

There is a parallel between fundamentalism and fascism and a fairly obvious one. Both regard the present as decayed and corrupt. Modernity, in contrast, for fascism is deeply corrupt, and fundamentalism too regards modernity as deeply corrupt. Also, there are some apparent similarity between fundamentalism and conservatism.

The reasons for the emergence, the spread, and the hold of fundamentalism vary across faiths and cultures. Most likely, fundamentalism arises in societies which face what they, or groups within them, think are serious crises of identity or meaning. These can include the following:
• Significant changes in society
• Colonialism
• Neo-colonialism
• Imperialism
• democracy

Through the document entitled “Is Saudi Arabia a Theocracy?”, by Muhammad Al-Atawneh, written and published in 2009, the author, via arguments and analyses, proves that Saudi Arabia is neither theocratic nor secular. For Muhammad Al-Atawneh, Saudi Arabia is a genuine monarchy that successfully accommodates Islam and therefore involves a continuing compromise between the clerics and the monarch.

The book entitled “The Real Origins of the Religious Right” was written by Randall Balmer. It highlights that the New Christian Right are motivated primarily by racial segregation and by fears that racial segregation will be genuinely ended throughout American society, much more than they are by abortion. Even though, as we know, abortion is a powerful enough motivating factor in our time and has been in the United States since the early eighties.