Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The understanding of the term fundamentalist/fundamentalism has undergone a dramatic shift over the past several years. When the term "fundamentalist" is used in conjunction with religion, politics, etc., the person or group whom the term is applied to is considered to be on the fringe or extreme side of the group's beliefs. Why is this, why are we led to believe that to have a fundamental belief is to be an "extremest"? Webster's Dictionary defines the term fundamental as:

1. serving as an original or generating source; serving as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function.
2. of or relating to essential structure, function, or facts; of or dealing with general principles rather than practical application; adhering to fundamentalism
3. of, relating to, or produced by the lowest component of a complex vibration
4. of central importance
5. belonging to one's innate or ingrained characteristics

Wikipedia states that fundamentalism is:
a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles
So in a nut shell, to be a fundamentalist is to have a core set of beliefs that one adheres to.
In sports when a coach says that it's time to 'get back to the fundamentals of the game' it means they're going back to basics, back to the fundamental skills that allow them to perform at the highest caliber.

So I ask, why has the term fundamentalist been hijacked? In my opinion it's because those who use it in a derogatory sense have no core beliefs, no fundamentals upon which to fall back on. Therefore they must label all those who do as being on the fringe, as radical extremists trying to force their beliefs upon those who have none. They are scared because they have no answers, no moral code, no fundamental belief system to guide them, other than the belief that those who have basic principles are wackos.

I think it's time to get back to the fundamentals and adhere to our core values, to use the word as it was intended, not as the radical no-belief crowd would have us perceive it.