Falwell and bin Laden: Kissing Cousins?

Understanding Fundamentalism

November 6, 2001 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – When Jerry Falwell declared on national television, only two days after the September 11 attacks on America, that the tragedy was "deserved" by a nation that had turned from God, the media immediately began the comparisons between Falwell and terrorist Osama bin Laden and his Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.

In a sound-bite culture, such comparisons are frequently made, but in this case is it a fair comparison after all?

Rather than dealing in sound bites, LEF President Rich Tafel, an openly gay ordained minister who earned his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University, lays the history of American Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism side by side in "Falwell and bin Laden: Kissing Cousins? Understanding Fundamentalism."

"Americans have come to painfully understand that fundamentalist Islam is mortally dangerous to our country," Tafel writes. "However, are Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson themselves dangerous home-grown fundamentalists, sowing the seeds of same kind of hatred that sent bin Laden's followers into suicide missions? Or are groups in the United States using Falwell's comments to score political points against an old enemy? To get beyond the hype around the Falwell-bin Laden connection we need to dig deeper. We need to understand better the origins and beliefs of Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. We also need to understand what leads to fundamentalism, how it turns militant, and how it becomes enmeshed with political goals."

The Liberty Education Forum (LEF) is a Washington-based think tank dedicated to new insights on gay and lesbian issues from a centrist perspective. The full text of the article is in the LEF Reading Room.


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