Andrew Sullivan on Fundamentalism

The following is an excerpt from “Addiction in the Heartland,” by Andrew Sullivan, posted today on The Daily Dish. You can read the entire post here.

Fundamentalism’s failure to encourage genuine, humble and humane faith that can finally come to terms with science and history is critical to this, which is why, increasingly, I think a reform of Christianity is central to preserving the liberal constitutional state. What has replaced real faith is, in fact, a form of neurotic attachment to literalism in Scripture (effectively debunked by scholarship), to authority figures who enforce order, if not coherence, onto otherwise chaotic lives (think Dobson or Ratzinger or Warren), rigid attachment to untruths in human history (as in denial of evolution), or the insistence of maintaining the appearance of Godliness to avoid confronting real human sin (think Ted Haggard or the countless child-abusing priests). None of this helps anyone actually cope with modern life, because it is too opposed to modern life. And so fundamentalism as a coping mechanism in fact  makes it all much worse, as rising rates of dysfunction, family breakdown, illegitimacy, abortion, HIV transmission, and drug abuse in the Christianist states reveal – just as the sexual dysfunction in Islamist societies cripples and immiserates them. If you want to find Ground Zero for this confluence of poverty, isolation, Christianism and meth, take a trip to Wasilla, Alaska, whence the new Esther has emerged.

The core element of Christianism and Islamism is denial: denial of a diverse world, denial of history, denial of science, denial of secular authority in favor of an ever-more rigid ideology, conveyed directly into the bloodstream through the web or FNC or other propaganda outlets.

This strikes me as the core evolution of our time, as I lay out with some urgency in the opening chapters of The Conservative Soul. I regard it not as a rebirth of faith but as a collapse of faith into neurosis.

It has profound political ramifications, which secular conservatives and liberals have been far too coy in taking on.

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