The reasons for the recent and simultaneous
appearance, or rise in influence, in much of the world of
“fundamentalist” or doctrinally and socially
conservative religiopolitical mass movements have been
analyzed for individual groups but rarely in a way that compares
all the main religions and the regions in which they are strong.
Most comparative volumes on
fundamentalism are collections, with most authors discussing one
area. Exceptions are Mark Juergensmeyer, The New Cold War?
Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1993) and Bruce B. Lawrence,
Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the
Modern Age (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989). Useful
collections include the five volumes of the Fundamentalism Project
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, edited by Martin E.
Marty and R. Scott Appleby and published by the University of Chicago
Press (Chicago, 1991–95; full reference in note 3); Richard
T. Antoun and Mary Elaine Hegland, eds. Religious Resurgence:
Contemporary Cases in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism (Syracuse:
Syracuse University Press, 1987); Lionel Caplan, ed., Studies in
Religious Fundamentalism (Albany, SUNY Press, 1987); John Stratton
Hawley, ed., Fundamentalism and Gender (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1994); and Contention, 4:2, 3, and 5:3 (1995,
1996), sections on comparative fundamentalism. Rarer still
have been analyses of why such movements have expanded in most
areas only since the 1970s, what causes exist in areas where these
movements are strong and why they differ from those regions where
they are weak or nonexistent, and what, aside from religion, produces
different types of movements. Here we will try to see if there are
common factors in time and in space that help explain these movements
and will look for causes of their similarities and differences.
Explanations presented here will stress differences between religious
nationalism (or communalism) directed primarily against other
religious communities and conservative religious politics directed
primarily against internal enemies. Differences between types and
levels of preexisting religious beliefs will be examined to suggest
why some areas have such movements and others do not. World-wide
factors that help to account for the recent rise of religious politics
will also be explored.