The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism

By Ralph W. Hood, Jr.; Peter C. Hill et al. | Go to book overview

Epilogue

The terrible danger for our time consists in the fact that
ours is a cut-flower civilization. Beautiful as cut flowers
may be, and much as we may use our ingenuity to keep
them looking fresh for a while, they will eventually die
because they are severed from their sustaining roots.

—TRUEBLOOD (1944, pp. 59–60)

Our intratextual model is intended to illuminate the rich tapestry that is fundamentalism in its various forms in the contemporary world. Despite the stereotypes they have often adopted (and even perpetrated), social scientists have contributed to a greater appreciation of some empirical aspects of this form of religious expression. For instance, regression analyses show separate effects for measures of fundamentalism (as a belief process) versus measures of orthodoxy (as belief content). However, the effects of fundamentalism are usually negative. Fundamentalists are found to be more prejudiced than the orthodox, for example (Kirkpatrick, 1993). However, these are typical studies done with a selection of undergraduate psychology students, and with measures of both fundamentalism and right-wing authoritarianism that are ideologically biased (Watson et al., 2003).

George Gallup, Jr., has painted a different picture of fundamentalists. Gallup and Jones (1992) set out to find Americans for whom “God is a vibrant reality” (p. 11). The Gallup organization worked closely with religious leaders and social scientists to develop a measure of what Pope John Paul II has referred to as “hidden saints.” The Gallup organization used appropriate sampling techniques and identified a minority of Americans who either agreed or strongly agreed with all 12 items on the survey. Included were items such as “I believe in the full authority of the Bible,” and “I try hard to put my religious beliefs into practice in all my relations with all people regardless of their backgrounds. (People an-

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