Christianity comes in all different forms as varied as the individual who are Christians. There are various versions of the Holy Bible, but basically, it acts as a menu for life. The dangers of Christian fanaticism happen when literal translation takes place or when words are twisted to suit the cause. The Bible wasn’t intended to be translated in this manner, and those that do and who preach it in a way which is imposing upon the individual are actually stepping away from the fundamental beliefs Christianity was supposed to stand for. If we look logically at the text of the Bible, it consists of books which give moral lessons, though the idea doesn’t appear to be one which would encourage fanaticism. The idea seems to be that human beings can take refuge by understanding life better by reading it.
Strangely enough, on many websites on the Internet, comparisons have been made between Islamic fanaticism and Christian fanaticism, putting both clearly on the same pedestal of attention. While many Christians believe that the Islamic faith is extreme, it would seem that many treat the Christian faith with the same level of fanaticism, and in doing so, misinterpret what Christianity should be about at its fundamental level.
Christian fanaticism has existed for many years. In fact, going back as far as the Salem Witch trials and the Crusades. Today’s Christian fanatics may seem downscaled when compared with historical fanatics, though are they? Perhaps they don’t burn disbelievers, but if abortion clinics are targeted by Christian fanatics who oppose abortion, how does that collate with acceptance of others and the right for people to choose? An interesting analogy was made on a website which discusses the understanding of Christians today, who believe that their faith should be based on feelings of the heart, backed up by one of the Commandments but where modern Christian fanatics fail is in their basic understanding of what “all your heart” meant at the time of writing the Bible. If you read this study, what you glean from it is an understanding that fanaticism has no place in Christianity and that in fact the fanaticism displayed cuts corners when it comes to actual theological thought and consideration, by turning the meaning to an emotional level rather than an intellectual one.
Christian fanaticism in this day and age doesn’t give the individual who chooses any other route but that believed in by the majority any credence. Homosexuality is scorned. Abortion is evil. None of the descriptions used by those whose belief dismisses others in the name of belief can actually see the harm done, because they believe that they are living by their faith. In the United States, books which did not uphold the Christian ideal were burnt, and yet when the Taliban did a similar thing, this was frowned upon by the western world. In fact, both are very similar acts performed by people whose belief didn’t allow for alternative views.
If you look as recently as the 1990s, book burning was advocated by Sarah Palin but what Christian fanatics were obviously doing, as were other religions, was trying to stop people from being tainted by knowledge in areas which allowed them to think outside of the morals acceptable to the religion. In book burning cases, what is achieved is that people are refused access to anything which allows them to think differently, and in a way is fanatical in itself. Controlling information so that people don’t read it doesn’t follow what the Bible says because theologically, the thinking man should be able to use all information available to them to draw their own conclusions. What happens if you take a section of information away is deny that individual the choice and control and limit their ideology.
The dangers of Christian fanaticism encompass many areas in life which are relevant to today’s society. The fire and brimstone belief that there is no other way to live, and no other standards to live by actually limits choice. Children have Christianity rammed down their throats from a very early age, which again can be seen on YouTube videos which are disturbing, and comments on those videos are assumed to have been made by atheists. In fact, true Christians may be those who lead by example, rather than those who scare children into belief, as fanatical Christians do. The child who sees hell and brimstone may not feel so lovingly toward a God who is inflicted upon them rather than discovered through the experiences the child has and the natural learning a child grows up with.
The dangers of Christian fanaticism are as dangerous as any fanaticism because it demands extremes. It demands that there are no deviations from what is considered normal, though that definition of normality is in itself questionable. For those who prefer to believe the teachings of the Bible as they find them and can relate them to their lives, there is a wealth of spiritual enlightenment awaiting. For those who choose the road of fanaticism, one may assume that the road isn’t quite as clear cut or easy to follow or live up to. As a Christian, the writer of this article is appalled at fanaticism in all its forms, and opposed to taking away the choices people have. It is those choices which make a Christian more informed and more aware of life, and more tolerant and understanding of other churches, other beliefs and the right of humanity to choose for themselves.