Date of Award

Winter 12-19-2016

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Master in Advanced Studies (MAS)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Maggie Murdock

Abstract

Liberty is a balancing act between the individual and society where the government is expected to provide for individual rights without impeding the rights of others. Nowhere is this conflict between the private and public more evident than in the case of religion. Due to the Establishment clause, the United States government must simultaneously promote individual belief without endorsing any single belief. This is extremely difficult for American’s extensively diverse society when individuals want to express their religion within a public setting. While government seeks a peaceful coexistence of religions in society, some religious factions believe they have the moral imperative to mold society in their image. This is the case with the Fundamentalist movement in the United States. Fundamentalist Christians believe that the foundation of United States is built around Christianity and that modern society and government has strayed from its original purpose to enforce the laws of God. Fundamentalists seek to return America to creating laws based on fundamental Christian values and to reintroduce Christianity into politics. As the United States becomes increasingly diverse, government must in turn become increasingly neutral to accommodate all beliefs. For Fundamentalists, this accommodation is perceived as government pushing God out of politics. This has led to a rise in Fundamentalism which poses a threat to the pluralist nature of the United States as Fundamentalists strive to mold society in their image. This paper will analyze how the development of church and state in America has created binary system between the private and public, track the rise of Fundamentalism as a response to increasing secularization and identify the characteristics of Fundamentalism that seeks to destroy the pluralist nature of democracy.

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