Fundamentalist Rules

The issue for fundamentalism is how to get people to obey absolute rules that cannot be obeyed absolutely. There is of course force and fear. But it is more reliable to have people who want to obey the rules. The easiest way to do this is to make people feel bad about themselves and then offer them a way of feeling better. Fundamentalism does this by creating a worldview of sin and redemption via a moral order whose basic tenets give these easy answers to life:

  1. Why am I here? To get better through obeying the rules.
  2. Why do I need to get better? Because a part of you is bad (original sin)— you’re not good enough.
  3. What happens if I break the rules? You get punished by a power that is inescapable. If you have sufficient remorse and resubmit, you may be forgiven.
  4. What happens if I keep the rules? You get rewarded by that same power— usually after death.


  1. Kramer, Joel; Alstad, Diana (2012-06-19). The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power (pp. 169-170). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition. []
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