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  Fundamentalism derives from the Latin word fundamentum (‘base’). Its chief use today is to describe extreme conservatism in any faith, especially in Christianity (see below) and Islam (where it involves strict obedience to the letter of the Qur\'an and to shari\'a).

In Christianity, modern fundamentalism developed in the 1910s, when the Conservative Wesleyans and Reformed Evangelicals joined in a war against liberal secularization, which was in their opinion challenging the ‘fundamentals’, that is the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, Virgin Birth, Resurrection and Second Coming. In the US one of the main battles of the fundamentalists was and continues to be against the teaching of evolution in public schools. Another fierce battle is fought against the spread of pornography (or what a particular fundamentalist group defines as pornography) and the moral laxity and social corruption to which it is said to lead. While large sections of the evangelical groups and mainline churches developed a broader base, the fundamentalists pursued a militant, separatist line. However, in the late 1970s and 1980s certain elements, such as the television-evangelist Jerry Falwell and his ‘Moral Majority’, entered the political arena, supporting an ultra-conservative agenda which included opposition to abortion, Catholicism, equal rights of men and women, homosexual rights, evolution and communism. KDS



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