This paper will examine the rise of American fundamentalism, specifically as an outgrowth of American revivalism beginning in the 19th century. Major periods that will be reviewed will be the beginning of the 19th century until the first quarter of the 20th century cumulating the Scopes Monkey Trail and the reemergence of fundamentalism in the last quarter of the 20th century. In particular, this essay will explore the connection to American Methodism in the 19th century, the effects which national media played in fundamentalism’s retreat and how the media was later used upon reemergence to further fundamentalism’s goals. It will also examine the handling of science by and what role science plays in fundamentalism as well as politics. Outgrowths of fundamentalism will be explored as well, paying close attention to King James Onlyism, Christian Zionism, and Young Earth Creationism and how it affects both ecumenical missions and the American political scene. While this paper will attempt to avoid classifying all fundamentalists as anti-intellectuals, it will acknowledge the role in which fundamentalism is playing in political battles related to homosexuality and the teaching of science in public schools. Further, it will acknowledge the reported spiritual, emotional and sometimes physical abuse generated by the more conservative fundamentalist sects.
American fundamentalism is growing either in power or media dominance, itself a show of power. After the Scopes Trial, fundamentalism as a whole became disinterested in political discussions, but after the certain Supreme Court decisions, the advent of secularism in schools and in the mass market, fundamentalism has returned with their own combative institutions, insisting on a stricter view than many Christians have and much of Christian Tradition has shared. With personal experiences and documented evidence, this paper will examine the dangers which fundamentalism plays in Western Christianity which limits the free expression of religion and the growth of Christianity in the United States.
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