Religious Fundamentalism

A Paradigm for Terrorism?


  • Douglas Pratt University of Waikato





The term, ‘fundamentalism’, today names a broad religio-political perspective found in most, if not all, major religions. Most disturbingly, it is associated with variant forms of religious extremism and thus religiously-oriented terrorism. And it is Islamic modalities of terrorism that, rightly or wrongly, have come to take centre-stage in current world affairs. Arguably, however, the religious fundamentalism with which Islamist extremism is associated follows an identifiable paradigm that has wider applicability. It denotes, among other things, a paradigm that paves the way from the relative harmlessness of an idiosyncratic and dogmatic belief system, to the harmful reality of religiously driven and fanatically followed pathways to terrorist activity. This paper will discuss the phenomenon of fundamentalism and attempt to describe and analyse the paradigm of religious fundamentalism. It is the cumulative dynamic of fundamentalism which informs the emergence of religious extremism and terrorism.

Author Biography

  • Douglas Pratt, University of Waikato
    Douglas Pratt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Director of the Religious Studies Programme, University of Waikato, New Zealand. He is also an Associate Member of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations at the University of Birmingham, England, and an Associate of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, University of St Andrews, Scotland. He is the author of The Challenge of Islam: Encounters in Interfaith Dialogue (2005). [email protected]


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How to Cite

Pratt, D. (2007). Religious Fundamentalism: A Paradigm for Terrorism?. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 20(2), 195-215.