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Fundamentalism and Political Violence: The Case of Paisley and Ulster Evangelicals


ReligionJournal abstract

One of the dangers of using the term ‘fundamentalism’ for a wide variety of religiously inspired political movements is that it disguises vital differences. This article examines in great detail the involvement of the evangelical Protestant religious and political leader Reverend Ian Paisley in the political violence of Northern Ireland. It concludes that, despite the context apparently encouraging a Protestant jihad, or holy war, Ulster evangelicals are peaceful and law-abiding. Parallels with American fundamentalism are used to raise the question of contrasts to Islamic fundamentalism. It is argued that fundamentalisms differ in their attitudes towards political violence and that the differences are unlikely to be just a matter of circumstance.

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