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Ecumenical Outlook: Fundamentalism And The ‘Can-Do’ Spirit


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Fundamentalists know too much. They can tell you exactly what God has told them. They know the “truth” at least as they perceive the truth through their faith.

For the rest of us, moments that we are with God allow us to understand how little we know about God. God experiences make the world bigger and not smaller. The doors of infinity open after our experience with the divine. We are speechless because we are so filled with godliness.

Fundamentalist faith of any sort is a challenge to the “can-do” spirit of America. When one believes that God has told him or her “truth” he or she has no reason to question any further. One who believes that the world was created in seven days will out of hand reject evolution, even though science points to its correctness. In like manner one who believes that human life begins at conception will forbid stem cell research and with it life giving cures to many with crippling disease. When Global Warming is identified as a religious issue and rejected because of that, dogma puts the whole world in danger.

Those who believe that white people are superior to black people or those who believe that their religion allows them hope of salvation but deny that hope to others allow awful types or racism and segregation and hate into the world.

The worst part of dogma in America is the destruction of the “can-do” philosophy which has made America great. We used to think that we could do anything, and we could. We led the world in so many areas. Sadly antiquated religious values have put a halt to much of that “can-do” spirit and have drained creativity and the ability of Americans to solve problems we face and the world faces.

Religion should teach us values, but it must not stem our creativity and “can-do” spirit. Dogma, which is man made, cannot take the place of science.

Ecumenical Outlook is a column of reflection open to the leaders of Verona’s houses of worship. Rabbi Aaron Kriegel is the leader of Congregation Beth Ahm of West Essex.

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