In this documentary, Mark Dowd travels across the world to trace the origins of fundamentalism and find out how it developed into the global phenomenon it is today. He discovers fundamentalists of all religious persuasions across the world – Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and, unexpectedly, Buddhists.
To most people the word “fundamentalism” conjures up images of terrorism. This documentary tells how this phenomenon, with its complex history, is rife in many of the world’s religions & how its intention is to impose a single truth on a plural world.
Although fundamentalists in all religions claim that they are harking back to a golden age when everyone accepted the divine words of the holy texts, this is clearly not the case. Even if we found the idea appealing, and if there ever really were such a golden age, we couldn’t reproduce it in the 21st century.
In fact, as these examples from five major world religions show, fundamentalism is a recent phenomenon that has as much to do with today’s global politics and economics as with the religious sources. This marriage of religion with politics has touched many nerves. In the developing world, it appears to offer food to the hungry and power to the powerless. In wealthy countries, it appears to give confidence to minorities who are persecuted or discriminated against, and has been used by those in power to wage war against ‘non-believers’.
The longer this goes on, the more polarised the world becomes. Where, asks Mark Dowd, are today’s prophets to help people identify with the fears of others, and check the tide of fundamentalism.