When People Worship Ideology


Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who shot and killed at least 85 people at a youth camp in Norway, laughed, cheered, and shouted “you all must die” as he sprayed the young men and women  with bullets. He did it to protect and save civilization…as he sees it.

The United States is on the verge of an epic financial collapse …….. because the Tea Party is unwilling to compromise, even a little bit. They will not compromise because they fear cuts and losses in their comfortable lifestyles. They argue of course that they are only defending authentic American values.

Contemporary Roman Catholic leadership, from Rome to Philadelphia (with places like New York, Chicago and Detroit thrown in for good measure) has surrendered to an ideological god.

Bishops on both sides of the Atlantic are working feverishly to return the Catholic Church to a nineteenth century self-centered and self-serving clerical empire. They denigrate and condemn all who stand in their way. And they pontificate and decree, decked out in medieval costumes and jewelry, that they are defending authentic Christian faith and morality.

Around the world, the new ideologues have enthroned their false gods on civic and religious ideological altars. They are today’s new fundamentalists.

These contemporary fundamentalists place such a high priority on their ideological gods and their conformity and obedience to doctrinaire spokespersons that they sacrifice values that are basic to the world’s great democracies and the world’s great religious traditions. Those values of course are: love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and caring.

In their overwhelming seriousness about their ideological gods, today’s fundamentalists do not hesitate to intervene in political and social process to ensure that society is forced to conform to the values and behaviors of their fundamentalist world views.

Today’s fundamentalists are dangerous people.

Fundamentalists justify hatred of one group of people for another, because they believe God hates those who do not conform to their fundamentalist worldview.

Fundamentalism is a dangerous movement.

Fundamentalism excuses people from honest self-examination: it justifies their prejudices, zealotry, intolerance, and hatefulness.

So what do we do about fundamentalism?

I don’t think we go out and bomb them and shoot their kids.

•    The best way to confront the kind of ignorance that  nourishes fundamentalism is through real education that emphasizes open access to information and critical, analytical thinking skills.

•    Real education teaches the importance of gathering evidence and then proceeding to conclusions. Fundamentalists work in opposite fashion.

•    We need to establish channels for dialogue and institutions that promote multi-cultural knowledge, dialogue, and understanding.

•    We need to practice a genuine kind of humility that enables us to see — with open eyes and open minds — the lives and worlds of other peoples and their
traditions…..not just our own.

•    We need to translate our vision-gained-from-humility into concrete and achievable local, national, and international actions and strategies.

One thought on “When People Worship Ideology

  1. it seems that education in the USA today promotes a narrow uniformity in curriculum, with emphasis on testing and little or no development of critical and analytical thinking. multiculturalism was promoted back in the 70’s and 80’s, but not now. correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t a similar scenario occur in Germany after the first world war?

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