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Christian ultra-fundamentalism (CUF)

A term used by psychologist and educator Robert J. Marzano (1993/1994) to describe the worldview of certain American Christians. CUF considers the Bible a sacred text and considers stories such as Noah and his ark to be literally true. CUF is well-known in America for its views that homosexuality and abortion, among many other things having to do with sex or reproduction, are sins (forbidden by the god of Abraham [AG]). The CUF folks and their sympathizers have a very well-organized political network, including schools, television networks, and radio stations for getting  the message out to the masses and lawmakers. The movement has had some success in affecting legislation that restricts abortions, protects fetuses, and limits scientific research involving stem cells or human embryos. They have also had some success in getting elected to local school boards where they can influence textbooks and curricula (Simonds 1983; Forrest and Gross 2003). Of course, many people with secular worldviews also own schools, TV networks, and radio stations, and try to influence legislation. In fact, many people with secular worldviews might agree with some of the moral and legal positions of CUF, but they may be reluctant to speak out for fear of being associated with other, more radical, beliefs of CUF.

CUF shares in common with ultra-fundamentalist Jews, Muslims, and Hindus the establishment of theocracy as the ultimate goal. One of the key features of Christian ultra-fundamentalism is that all other worldviews are seen as enemies to be extinguished or at least stopped from spreading (Marzano 1993/1994). There is no secular worldview that holds a similar position, with the possible exception of extreme communism. But other ultra-fundamentalist religious movements also seek the annihilation of opposing worldviews. Some of these groups, such as Islamic ultra-fundamentalists, seek to physically extinguish those of other religions or cultures, or even members of their own religion who are deemed not orthodox enough.* With the exception of a few terrorists who have attacked or murdered people for their abortion-related activities, CUF seems to advocate non-violent tactics. However, were a group of CUFs ever to hold political power in America, they undoubtedly would be just as intolerant as Islam has been toward democracy, liberty, human rights, pluralism, and all those values held precious by freedom-loving people.*

The CUF worldview is also characterized by the belief that America was established as a Christian nation (Gabler and Gabler 1985) with a global mission of evangelization (Saperstein 1990) and that liberal intellectuals have misled America into thinking that there should be a separation of Church and State (Kennedy 1987). (Never mind that most of the founding fathers were not Christians and that Jefferson prevailed in getting the U.S. Constitution to reflect Virginia's refusal to recognize any religion as the state's religion.) According to this view, liberal theologians have undermined the authority of the Bible, while liberal scientists and academics have advanced the anti-Biblical theory of evolution. Liberals are referred to as secular humanists and are described as "aggressive and evangelistic [and] adept at tearing down traditional faith, even if it means permitting the occult to enter the classroom" (Gabler and Gabler 1985). In some CUF literature, liberals and secular humanists are also known as New Agers and are thought to be engaged in a systematic effort to introduce not only atheism, materialism, and evolution into American culture, but also such evils as acupuncture, biofeedback, environmentalism, holistic medicine, hypnosis, the kabbala, Transcendental Meditation, and vegetarianism (Marzano 1993/1994). Most CUF literature, however, clearly distinguishes liberals from New Agers.

Two of the most vocal advocates of CUF are evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Their response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American targets reveals some of the essential beliefs attached to this worldview. They claimed that "liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility...because their actions have turned AG's anger against America."* According to Falwell, AG allowed "the enemies of America...to give us probably what we deserve." Robertson agreed. The American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," said Falwell, and Robertson agreed. Federal courts bear part of the blame, too, said Falwell, because they've been "throwing God [sic] out of the public square." Also "abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God [sic] will not be mocked," said Falwell. Robertson agreed. [Click here to hear the full conversation in mp3 format.]

According to CUF, liberals have conspired to introduce relativistic ethics, toleration of diverse religious views, freedom of thought, and such anti-Christian notions as the importance of self-esteem (Marzano 1993/1994; Marrs 1987, 1990; Robertson 1989, 1990). In short, according to CUF, liberalism is orchestrated by Satan and will lead to the Antichrist (Marrs 1987; Robertson 1989). Of course, this prophecy may be as inaccurate as all the others regarding the end of the world.*

One of the more vocal CUFs is James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, a group devoted to spreading the word on the evils of such things as sexual equality, homosexuality, abortion, and liberal judges. Dobson calls a judge liberal if he or she won't use the personal values of the CUFs as a guide in making decisions. Dobson criticizes judges for making decisions according to their own personal values whenever they rule according to their understanding of the law and the Constitution but against Dobson's personal values. This is a very effective smokescreen among CUFs. At a televised revival meeting held in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Highview Baptist Church on April 24, 2005, Dobson told viewers that the justices on the United States Supreme Court are "imperious and determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases." The justices are the architects of the "biggest holocaust in world history." They are "out of control," he said, and they "need to be reined in." "For 43 years [since the court found organized prayer in public schools unconstitutional], the Supreme Court has been on a campaign to limit religious freedom and religious liberty," he said. In other words, an independent judiciary is as anathema to CUF as religious tolerance. Under the guise of defending both America and Christianity, Dobson and his crew want to subvert the Constitution while claiming that those who are upholding it are the ones who are subverting it--a clever trick, if you can get away with it. The Framers created a Bill of Rights and an independent judiciary to prevent sects such as the CUFs from imposing their personal values on the rest of us.

Tony Perkins is another vocal CUF. He is the president of the Family Research Council, another anti-Constitutional group claiming to be defending "the family, faith, and freedom." What Perkins wants for America is the same thing Dobson desires: a Christian theocracy created in their image of Christianity as CUF.

See also Dominionism, paranoid conspiracy theorists, the World Association of Christian Fundamentalists, and young Earth creationism.

reader comments

further reading

books and articles

Blaker, Kimberly. (2003). The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America. New Boston Books.

Cohen, N. J. (1990). ed. The Fundamentalist Phenomenon: A View from Within; A Response from Without. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Forrest, Barbara Carroll and Paul R. Gross. (2003). Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design. Oxford University Press.

Gabler, M., and N. Gabler. (1985). What Are They Teaching Our Children? Wheaton, Ill.: Victory Books.

Goldberg, Michelle. (2006). Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. W.W. Norton.

Kennedy, Joseph. (1987). No Establishment or Restrictions. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Coral Ridge Ministries.

Marrs, Texe (1987). Dark Secrets of the New Age. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.

Marrs, Texe (1990). New Age Cults and Religions. Shiloh Court, Tex.: Living Truth Publishers.

Marzano, Robert J. "When Two Worldviews Collide," in Educational Leadership. December 1993/January 1994.Volume 51. Number 4.

Robertson, P. (1989). The Inspirational Writings of Pat Robertson. New York: Inspirational Press.

Robertson, P. (1990). The New Millennium. Dallas, Tex.: Ward Publishing.

Saperstein, D. (1990). "Fundamentalist Involvement in the Political Scene: Analysis and Response." In The Fundamentalist Phenomenon, edited by N. J. Cohen. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Simonds, R. (1983). How to Elect Christians to Public Office. Costa Mesa, Calif.: Citizens for Excellence in Education.

Spencer, Robert (2004). Editor. The Myth Of Islamic Tolerance: Muslim Law and the Non-Muslim. Prometheus Books.

Warraq, Ibn (1995). Why I Am Not a Muslim Prometheus Books.


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