1) What historical forces led to the rise of the movement?
2) What methods/tactics were used to lead the movement?
3) What major figures involved in the movement?
4) Was/Is the movement successful in achieving its goals?

What is Fundamentalism?

Fundamentalism is a subgroup of evangelical Christianity. It is the opposite of Christian liberalism. Fundamentalists emerged to resist the strong front of liberals. Fundamentalists want to maintain Christian values in politics and everyday life. They aim to do so through spreading their word in various forms including internet, radio and television. Below is the standard definition found in the American Heritage dictionary.

n. 1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
2. a. often
Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
b. Adherence to the theology of this movement.


After the Civil War, new scientific discoveries were being made and many Protestant denominations began viewing the Bible more for its symbolic and metaphoric wisdom than for its literal truth. Protestants began accepting Darwinian evolution, biblical research, artistic modernism and philosophical naturalism into their theologies and practices. However, a certain Protestant group refrained from moving in a modern direction and stayed close to the "fundamentals" of Christian beliefs. In 1895, this group called Fundamentalists introduced their philosophies at the Niagara Bible conference. Their beliefs were recorded in a set of 12 volumes called the Fundamentals, which were funded by Lyman and Milton Stewart.

1) Main Ideas of Fundamentalism
  • literal interpretation of the Bible
  • the divinity and virgin birth of Christ
  • the idea that Christ takes the place of sinners on the cross
  • the physical resurrection
  • the return of Christ to the Earth as a human
  • Reality of Biblical Miracles
2) Fundamentalist Goals:
  • Maintain traditional roles between women and men
  • seek to decrease separation between state and church
  • Increase traditional Christian values in society and family life
  • View the Bible as literal truth
  • Religion is science
  • Spread their ideas through politics and media

Fundamentalist Groups in the Government

1) Moral Majority
Jerry Falwell founded Moral Majority which was a group made for lobbying Fundamentalist views in the government. Falwell started this group, in 1979 with the help of his network of ministers. He believed that the decrease in morality in America was because of the separation between church and state. The Southern-oriented organization quickly opened chapters in eighteen different states. Falwell wanted the group to include conservative groups from other religions as well, but not everyone agreed. It became one of the largest Conservative lobbying groups in the country. The group was disbanded in 1989 after the decrease in donations at the end of Ronald Reagan's second term.Falwell ended the group because he thought the groups goals had been accomplished. However, elements from this group were transferred to the Christian Coalition.

"The purpose of the Moral Majority was to activate the religious right" said Falwell.

Group leader Jerry Falwell
external image 499836628_681dcce204_m.jpg

  • a preacher on religion since age 18 and found political career later
  • founded Moral Majority which was a group made for Lobbying Fundamentalist views in the government
  • thought state and church were and should be connected
  • founded Liberty University
  • outspoken against abortion
  • blamed 9\11 terrorist's attack on those who he thought were making America more secular
    • "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen."

external image logo_christian_coalition.gif
2) Christian Coalition
Founded in 1989 by Pat Robertson the Christian Coalition aims to help Christian families have a voice in American politics. The Christian Coalition presents a pro-family view in public areas. To do this the Coalition trains potential political leaders to represent the Christian Coalition and take political action.
Rev. Pat Robertson tried to use this group to promote his campaign for Presidency, but paperwork showed that the groups planning began in 1987 before he decided to run for President. He later appointed Ralph Reed in charge of daily operations in the organization. The group started passing voters guides which helped get a Republican president into the White House. During the Clinton administration a bill was passed called the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act," which enforced Christian values due to the influence of Christian Coalition, which limited benefits on children born out of wedlock. It also proposed the Contract with America though most of the changes were not made.

external image 4619825960_2527af1e2f_m.jpg
Group leader Pat Robertson
  • Started Christian Coalition which promoted fundamentalist and Christian values.
  • used to be a religious broadcaster
  • Was a one-time presidential republican candidate in 1988
  • agreed with Jerry Falwell's theory of the cause of 9/11
  • Group leader Ralph Reedexternal image 1101950515_400.jpg

  • Executive director of Christian Coalition from 1989-1997
  • Traveled around the United States lobbying and gaining members for the Christian Coalition and Fundamentalist movement
  • He often met with governors and state senates
  • Advised many Presidential candidates
  • Distributes voter guides in thousands of nationwide churches and thus helps get many republicans seats in congress. This worked marvelously in 1994.
  • Great public speaker and inspires many Americans to join Christian Coalition

Prominent Leaders

external image machen_photo.jpg

Quote From Machen
Quote From Machen

1) J. Gresham Machen 1881-1937

  • Fundamentalist leader who taught at Princeton until it was modernized
  • Known well for defending historical reliability of the Bible
  • Founded Orthodox Presbyterian Church
  • In 1929 he founded Westminster Seminary
  • Important early conservative protestant mind

2) Harold J. Ockenga

He studied under J. Gresham Machen at the Westminster Theological Seminary. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1931. In 1936 he became the pastor at the Park Street Congregational Church in Boston, MA after
Harold J. Ockenga
Harold J. Ockenga
obtaining his doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. The Church was one of the most prestigious Fundamentalist institutions in New England. Ockenga was known for his meaningful sermons, bright thoughts, and his beautiful socialite wife. In 1942 he played a major role in creating the National Association of Evangelicals and was the groups first president. In 1947 Ockenga became the head of the Fuller Theological Seminary while continuing his work at the Park Street Church. In 1956 he worked with Billy Graham on the evangelical periodical Christianity Today. In 1969 Ockenga moved on from Park Street to work as headmaster for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

billyG.jpg3) Billy Graham
  • Graham loved being a Christian Fundamentalist from an early age
  • Studied at Bob Jones University, Florida Bible Institute
  • Dramatic Southern Baptist preacher
  • In 1944 he joined Torrey Johnson, a radio preacher's national crusade called Youth for Christ
  • 1947 Graham published his book called Calling Youth to Christ, became President of Northwestern Schools
  • In 1950 he formed the Billy Graham Evangelical Association
  • Had his own ABC radio show called the Hour of Decision where he preached, published religious films, wrote many religious books and published newspaper articles spreading his word
  • On good terms with presidents, Eisenhower, JFK, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan
  • Opposed the banning of prayer in schools
  • Thought the Supreme Court was too easy on criminals
  • Opponent of communism, backed the Vietnamese war
  • Some Fundamentalist leaders say he is too liberal and sides too much with mainstream protestant clergy
  • Leading example for piety and moral uprightness

Fundamentalists in the Political System

State v. John Scopes ("The Monkey Trial")

external image 4538974168_1e44968ef7.jpg
  • took place in Dayton, Tennessee
  • modernist vs. traditionalists/fundamentalists
  • John Scopes, a high school biology teacher, was charged with illegally teaching the theory of evolution
  • His lesson went against Tennessee's anti-evolution statute (which forbid Evolution from being taught in public schools)
  • American Civil Liberties Union announced they were willing to help anyone who would argue Tennessee's anti-evolution statute
  • this case started when George Rappalyea convinced town leaders as well as the School Superintendent that a controversial case would increase Dayton's population which had been steadily dropping.
  • The convinced group called John Scopes who was a general science teacher, who had given an evolution reading to a class he was substituting a teacher. This was considered illegal, so they asked if he would stand up for his belief that biology cannot be taught without evolution.
  • William Jennings Bryan was on the prosecuting side and had won the case
  • The result was that John Scopes had to pay a $100 fine, but a year later was cleared because of a technicality.
  • It did not change anything but by the end of the trial, only two States had laws restricting evolution being taught in school.

William Jenninexternal image 2377573881_9e9cfe58e5.jpggs Bryan

Bryan was an influential Fundamentalist. He was a prominent public speaker and writer and through his word and writing spread Fundamentalism. He was an excellent lawyer and received his degree in 1887. In 1891 he began serving his two terms in the House of Representatives. In 1894 he became the editor of Omaha World-Herald newspaper for two years. Bryan ran for President three times and became Woodrow Wilson's secretary of state. He was best known for his work in the Scopes trial. Even though he won Bryan and other Fundamentalists were scorned and portrayed as naive for their actions. He called evolution "the menace of Darwinism."

Fundamentalism in the Media

1) Radio Evangelicals
The most famous radio preacher was Charles E. Fuller. Beginning in 1937 and lasting for 38 years he broadcast a show called the Old Fashioned Revival Hour where he preached and prayed with millions of listeners. The show was broadcast thanks to the Gospel Broadcasting Association and over the years made it to 152 radio stations. Charles also did a show in 1940 called Heart to Heart Talk, in which he prayed for the elderly.

2) Televangelicals

Pat Robertson created the non-profit Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in 1960. It was the first Christian television network in America. Created the '700 Club' with 700 supporters giving $10 a month to raise the needed $7,000 to pay for the program each month. This was necessary because Robertson refused to have commercials air on his network so paying for programing would be impossible without donations. Now not only does Robertson run CBN but he has help from Terry Meeuswen, Gordon Robertson, Kristi Watts and news anchor, Lee Webb. Today the CBN broadcasts to over 200 countries and has a 24 hour telephone prayer line constantly staffed with workers or volunteers trained to provide comfort and prayer.

Universities with Fundamentalist Valuesexternal image libertymonogramstda_cmyk.jpg

Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)
Liberty's Mission is to create new people that spread the word of Christ and live out his word in their daily lives. This is a hugely fundamental college.

external image bjucrest-cross.jpgBob Jones University (Greenville, SC)
Below is the Bob Jones University Creed and Mission (this is very similar to the missions and creeds of Liberty University and South Florida Bible College):
I believe in the inspiration of the Bible (both the Old and the New Testaments); the creation of man by the direct act of God; the incarnation and virgin birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; His identification as the Son of God; His vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind by the shedding of His blood on the cross; the resurrection of His body from the tomb; His power to save men from sin; the new birth through the regeneration by the Holy Spirit; and the gift of eternal life by the grace of God.
Within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts higher education, Bob Jones University exists to grow Christlike character that is scripturally disciplined, others-serving, God-loving, Christ-proclaiming and focused above.
external image logo.jpg Founded by Robert Reynolds Jones Sr.

South Florida Bible College (Deerfield Beach, Florida)

Established in 1985 by Dr. Joseph Guadagnino.
The seminary takes pride in being the only college in Florida to offer theological degrees for undergraduates and graduates internationally.
The mission of the college is to help young men and women to prepare themselves for a Christian life and doing God's work through the Bible.

Fundamental Living

external image about-joel-osteen3.jpg

Joel Osteenexternal image about-joel-osteen2.jpg

"God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us. "-Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen is the Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest growing church in America. The Church, a former basketball arena, now seats 16,000. People travel to his Church from all over to be inspired and worship God. His weekly sermon is watched by 7 million Americans each week. Hundreds of thousands of people listen to his weekly podcasts and receive his daily emails of hope. In 2004, he inspired millions through his first book, Your Best Life Now, a New York Times bestseller. He also reaches out around the world with missions. His main focus is giving and spreading hope. He teaches people how to live happy and prosperous lives through God. He wants people to understand that God wants them to live an abundant life.

Prosperity Gospel
This new doctrine rose after World War II. It focuses on money, health, and physical possessions. The idea is that God will give prosperity to those who spread his word, and stick to the scripture. A surprising amount of evangelical Churches have excepted this new doctrine to varying degrees. This is a controversial gospel since many believe that the Bible teaches humanity not to care only for physical possessions.

Present Day Fundamentalism

Fundamentalists may have lost the evolutionary battle as well as reestablishing prayer in schools, but they are still working the bring back family values into American Society. Since the group has started many independent churches have sprung up in the South with Fundamentalist values, as well as countless organizations. They were not able to completely change education in our country, but many colleges have been established that incorporate their ideals. They were also unsuccessful with making abortion illegal, and changing the modern viewpoints. However, they were successful in spreading God's words to everyone using new technology, and they are still trying to spread morality in our country. Today the Christian Coalition has about 2 million members and chapters in all 50 states.