Fanaticism & the Future

Lesson Objectives

• Define Key Terms

• Recognize that many of our assumptions about religion in general are wrong

• Recognize that life is actually much better than it was even 30 years ago

• Understand the mindset of people who choose to join terrorist groups

• Understand the mindset of people who become terrorist/cult leaders

• Recognize that all the world's major religious traditions have terrorists

• Appreciate the complexity and reasons behind "Spiritual but not Religious"

• Understand the most recent developments in American religion

Key Terms




Narcissistic Personality Disorder



Jihadi Cool


Spiritual but not Religious (SBNR)


Modern Myths About Religion

Myth #1: The world is so much more worse now

• Actually, this is the best moment to live in, in the history of humanity

• What's changed is how we consume our media and news

Myth #2: Terrorists are uneducated loners who hate our freedom

• Actually, terrorists come from all kinds of circumstances

• There is, however, a very specific profile for most terrorist actors

Myth #3: Terrorist leaders are just crazy people

• Terrorist leaders are usually quite intelligent

• Their intelligence enables them to take control of others

Myth #4: There are "good" religions and "bad" religions

• All religions have had bad actors in a very recent context

• There are no "terrorist religions," nor are there religions immune from terrorism

Myth #5: There's this new idea for "spiritual" people without "religion"

• This depends on one's defintion of those words

• Ultimately, "Spiritual but not Religious" is an old idea with a specific history

Myth #6: American Religion is here to stay

• If we've learned anything in this course, it's that religion is constantly changing