New Internationalist

Secular fundamentalism?

November 2004

I take issue with David Boulton’s implication (‘Who Needs Religion?’, NI 370) that the only socially acceptable form of faith is one in which a person concedes that their beliefs are entirely ‘made up’ constructs of the human mind. It is certainly possible to believe in the real existence of spiritual phenomena, while being tolerant of other expressions of faith and committed to peace and justice in the world. Many people involved in cross-faith dialogue and social justice activities are convinced that their faith refers to a reality beyond the here and now, but that belief does not make them incapable of tolerance or ethical thought.

To polarize religious belief into dangerous absolutism or humane naturalism, as Boulton does, misrepresents the complex shades of faith in the modern world. Perhaps a secular perspective can be fundamentalist too, in reducing religion to such tidy oversimplifications.

Rebecca Styler-Shaw Bedford, England

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 373 This column was published in the November 2004 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 373

New Internationalist Magazine issue 373
Issue 373

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