The impulse to strictly conform to sacred texts and moral codes dates back a long time. To comprehend why and how such impulses arise, discussions on religious fundamentalisms and their historical contexts are necessary. More pragmatically, a fuller understanding of the dynamics of religious fundamentalisms—especially as they affect women’s rights—helps identify and create potential spaces where strategic advocacies could be pursued.
The term “fundamentalism” came into existence in the US in the 1920s to describe conservative Protestants who supported the principles expounded in The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. These pamphlets attacked the modernist theories of biblical criticism and reasserted the authority of the Bible. Their central message was that the Bible is the inerrant word of God; it should be read literally; and believers should lead their lives according to its moral precepts.