Beyond Christianity and Islam

19th November 2004 at 00:00

Hindu fundamentalists do not base their arguments on a single sacred text, but they believe India should be exclusively Hindu and wish to limit Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and Sikh rights to worship. In 1999, what was then a primarily fundamentalist political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power with a manifesto to turn India into a Hindu state - for example, by building temples on the sites of mosques. Since coming to power, it has moderated its aims.


When Israel somewhat unexpectedly won the Six Day War in 1967 and acquired the West Bank and Gaza Strip territories, Jewish fundamentalists saw this not as a victory but a sign that God was returning to them their biblically "Promised Land". Judaism does not seek converts from outside the faith - and so (unlike Christian and Muslim fundamentalists) Jewish fundamentalists do not actively recruit new members. For them, Jews are God's Chosen People and superior to other peoples. Their literal reading of the Jewish book of law, the Talmud, can lead to what they see as justifiable acts of violence - even against other Jews. In 1995, the Jewish Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fundamentalist, Yigal Amir. At his trial, Amir said he had done so because Rabin had wanted to "give our country to the Arabs".


This movement dates from the early 1980s in response to attacks on the Sikh minority in India. Since the Indian attack on the Sikh Golden Temple at Amritsar in 1984, some Sikhs have responded with terrorist attacks on Hindu targets.


In 1993, The Wall Street Journal outlined this concept through a series of rules. The first is "Science holds the answers to all the questions of life". The second is "Anyone who does not believe Rule 1 is not scientific". Another is "Anything which is not matter does not matter". An alternative use applies the term scientific fundamentalism (or "scientism") to those scientists who become so closely aligned with a particular interpretation of data that they cannot accept evidence which challenges their position.


This term has been used especially of the Bush administration in the US and has been defined as an unquestioning conviction that "we are right, you are wrong". The phrase often implies a desire to see everything in black and white; a penchant for the use of biblical language ("You are either with us or against us") when speech-making; and a tendency to ignore consensus-building policies.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today