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Activist Fundamentalist Antics

You (and your little group of like-minded righteous people) are right and everyone else is wrong about the most important thing in the universe. But everyone else is just too stupid, or deluded, to see how right you are! So, if you are actually righteous and really want the best for/to save them you would be willing to do anything, right? Even if it might seem a little silly or counterproductive to those who don't understand the importance of what you're trying to do!

A character doing Activist Fundamentalist Antics is likely to scream all the wrong slogans at all the wrong places: religious gatherings, comedy festivals, family holiday dinners, even funerals. They may well make botched attempts at Easy Evangelism or Epiphany Therapy, only to come across as a general Jerkass. They are likely to step on all sorts of metaphorical toes, including their own as they trip over their own feet. One hallmark of this mentality is the desire to somehow exile and/or exterminate certain types of people. Maybe said people break taboos and/or are 'immoral', but the real issue is what they 'are' and not what they do e.g. they are the SINFUL HELL-SPAWN/children of parents who ate egg-salad sandwiches on a Tuesday IN DIRECT DEFIANCE OF GOD'S WILL. This desire to exclude or eliminate said people stems from the fact that 'their kind' is fundamentally incompatible with the Activist Fundamentalist's vision of a righteous and Small Secluded World. Some psychologists have argued that the reason why some cultists behaving this way - so militantly, and with so much hostility - is that they are desperately trying to convince themselves of the righteousness of their cause.

When The Fundamentalist (or any other fanatic) is played this way, they can still be scary. There might be a real risk that they'll go off the deep end and bring out the Torches and Pitchforks or resort to Honor-Related Abuse. Then again, it might also turn out that whatever windmill he was fighting was No Mere Windmill after all.

Extra bonus points if two or more groups are doing this at the same time against each other. This might lead to spineless authorities giving in to both sides, resulting in particularly surreal and hilarious cases of Political Correctness Gone Mad.

Silly, scary, or both, while the person doing Activist Fundamentalist Antics is often genuinely unsympathetic, it is not always so. They can have other redeeming qualities, or be on the right track but are taking it too far. They might also be wrestling with their life, conscience, and/or world-view.

Note that a character doesn't have to be an organized activist to be this trope, taking an activist attitude is enough.

Please note that this trope relies on how attitudes and behaviors are portrayed within the narrative of a work, and is thus incapable of having Real Life examples: While everyone agree that there's a lot of silly Activist Fundamentalist Antics in Real Life, there will never be a consensus on which groups are this trope and which ones are not.

Compare Straw Loser, Lord Error-Prone and Black and White Insanity. Contrast Against My Religion, where the character personally refuses to do things that he considers to be against his religion, rather than trying to bully everyone else into behaving the same way. Also contrast The Soulsaver and Soulsaving Crusader, which can contain behavior that would be this trope if it weren't justified within the narrative. A particularly over-the-top Soapbox Sadie might act this way for every new cause that pops into her head.


Examples

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     Comic Books  

  • In The Verse of the Chick Tracts, a real Christian would never resort to this kind of behavior. (They sometimes do stuff that would be this trope if it wasn't for the convenient power of Easy Evangelism - such as using people's personal tragedies as a good time to tell them that they are going to hell unless they join the one true religion. But never mind that.)
  • Reverend William Stryker's entire deal is basically one big example of this. He started as a TV Evangelist that blamed mutants for the world's problems, and claiming they were the children of the devil. He started off as a protester, before becoming leader of a para-military hate-cult known as 'The Purifiers' who did this to the extreme: Outright hunting and killing mutants, and trying to 'do god's work' via mass-genocide, but was stopped before he could make an example by shooting Kitty Pryde on TV.

     Fan Fiction  

  • In the Discworld fic Slipping Between Worlds, the activities of the Campaign for Equal Heights are elaborated upon, and an even more anorak grouping, the Ankh-Morpork Unidentified Flying Object Research Group, is introduced.

     Film  

  • Easy A: Marianne's group is shown doing this. First against the basketball team, then against Olive. Picketing fellow students with hateful slogans, Westboro Baptist Church Style, yay...
    • Interestingly, Marianne and her lancer, Nina, are shown to be really loving and caring people. This strongly indicates that the reason they are such jerks with their antics is that they believe they don't have a choice - that it's somehow their holy duty to act as if they were psychopaths.
    • It's shown Marianne's father is also a pastor, and a real Jerk Ass one who treats his faith as fact and refuses to let Olive agree to disagree. So, its likely her behavior isn't her fault, its largely he result of her strict religious upbringing that she is trying to protect.
  • Inverted in Never Let Me Go: No matter how horrible things get, no one ever shows any outrage against the system. Two of the three protagonists have emotional outbursts of disapproval and almost hate, but always aimed at themselves. It's because they were genetically engineered in that way.
  • Saved!. The entire movie. They're all religious fundamentalists, but some are more saved than others (mainly the ones who are willing to question their own beliefs and choices rather than judge others for theirs).
  • God Bless America: Not only Westboro Baptist Church and the other groups featured, but also Frank himself.
  • The Ledge takes this to a very deadly level as the atheist Gavin is about to "die for his beliefs".

     Literature  

  • Archbishop Loris is very much given to this. His interactions with the Mearan Pretender, Caitrin, and her husband, Sicard, are frequently punctuated with streams of invective against Deryni generally and Kelson and Duncan in particular, along with darkly dismissive assessments of the fates of Caitrin's daughter and younger son after they are taken to Kelson's court. Unfortunately for Henry Istelyn and Duncan McLain, Loris goes far beyond verbal pyrotechnics.
  • An example with a Think of the Children! Moral Guardian: An excerpt from "How I Found the Superman" by G. K. Chesterton, Daily News 1909:
    The name of Lady Hypatia Smythe-Brown (now Lady Hypatia Hagg) will never be forgotten in the East End, where she did such splendid social work. Her constant cry of "Save the children!" referred to the cruel neglect of children's eyesight involved in allowing them to play with crudely painted toys. She quoted unanswerable statistics to prove that children allowed to look at violet and vermilion often suffered from failing eyesight in their extreme old age; and it was owing to her ceaseless crusade that the pestilence of the Monkey-on-the-Stick was almost swept from Hoxton.
    The devoted worker would tramp the streets untiringly, taking away the toys from all the poor children, who were often moved to tears by her kindness. Her good work was interrupted, partly by a new interest in the creed of Zoroaster, and partly by a savage blow from an umbrella. It was inflicted by a dissolute Irish apple-woman, who, on returning from some orgy to her ill-kept apartment, found Lady Hypatia in the bedroom taking down some oleograph, which, to say the least of it, could not really elevate the mind.
  • Reg Shoe (before he was a zombie) in Night Watch is the classic useful idiot: he shouts lots of slogans, insists that the revolution happen according to his great plans, and is otherwise an insufferable Rule-Abiding Rebel. When Vimes shows up and lays out just how little anyone (including the real revolutionaries) cares about what he has to say, Reg's brain "rejected the information as contrary to whatever total fantasy was going on inside". After zombification, his antics are slightly more subdued, in that he's always going on about unfair treatment of the undead, while the other undead wish he'd shut up about it.
    • Estrella Partleigh and the Campaign For Equal Heights are another good Discworld example: where human beings take it upon themselves to agitate for the civil rights of Dwarfs, despite the fact Dwarfs are incredibly successful in their own right and do not need humans to advocate for them...
  • In Sing You Home, Max becomes a born-again Christian after divorcing his wife Zoe, who has come out of the closet. Zoe wishes to use the embryos they made through in vitro fertilization so that she can have a child with her partner, Vanessa. Max's pastor, Pastor Clive, encourages him to be homophobic and eventually sue Zoe and Vanessa for the embryos.

     Live Action TV  

  • One Boston Legal episode had two religious groups suing each other for blasphemy-related charges.
  • On True Blood, we have the Fellowship of the Sun, a cult running on a quite scary flavor of silliness.
    • Except that Rev. Steve Newlin, the leader of said cult, is now a vampire - the very creature he campaigns against.. This could also be a case of Villain Has a Point since not only was his family assassinated by the vampires, it turns out the Authority and their fundamentalist opponents are every bit as fanatical about killing each other over their interpretation of the Vampire Bible.
    • As of Season 5: The Sanguinistas. A religious movement of fundamentalist vampires opposed to mainstreaming who have slaughtered the Authority, converting it's remaining members, and have blown up at least one True Blood factory. They are also convinced they are the 'chosen ones' of Lilith.
  • Virgilia in the North And South miniseries is a particularly scary example. At first, she was merely ruining family dinners and such, but she eventually goes off the deep end and even calls down a lynch mob on her own home. The saddest part is that her family actually agreed all along with the core of her political agenda, what they can't stand is her extreme Black and White Morality.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is very fond of making sure to get the footage of the groups acting this way, rather than a more "rational" response stated at another date. As per Penn's own description, "Fair, and EXTREMELY biased."
  • In Parks and Recreation, there is the minor recurring character, Marcia Langman, the spokeswoman for the Society for Family Stability Foundation. In "Pawnee Zoo", she tries to get Leslie to annul a gay penguin wedding since "when gays marry, it ruins marriage for the rest of us." Later in "Time Capsule", she denounces the Twilight books as "There are girls quivering. There are boys staring deeply into girls' eyes as they quiver and so forth. There really is a tremendous amount of quivering. It is anti-Christian. It is pro-quivering."
    • What makes that second example even funnier was that another group also denounced the Twilight books for the opposite reason: they found the books too Christian (specifically Mormon, presumably because they were written by a Brigham Young University graduate).
  • In one Law & Order: SVU episode, a guy has tried for eight years to get his kidnapped brother back. The police and everyone else stopped caring many years ago, so he resorted to kidnapping and raping a woman just to get the police's attention. Oh, and the woman is, of course, in on it, pulling off a little Romanticized Abuse show to the audience as her "rape" gets broadcast on the web.
  • In various Swedish shows, we have the comedy group Grotesco performing their song "Bögarnas Fel" ("Blame Everything On The Gay Men"). One of the most famous versions was held at the extremely popular show "Singalong at Skansen" just a few days before the Stockholm Pride Parade. Here, shown with English subtitles. (Click the "subtitles" button, one of the buttons to the right at the bottom.) Of course, the wordplay jokes and some other nuances are lost in translation, but it's still hilarious. (For example, the Swedish word for Double Standard technically literally means "twice as much morality", which is played with in the initial speech.) Note the cheering people waving pride flags.
  • Kaamelott has the Répurgateur, the batshit inquisitor / papal envoy, who declares nearly everything (magic, mistresses, mental defects...) heretical and sends people to the stake at the drop of a hat. Absolutely no-one takes him seriously, which isn't hard when even the local Ambiguous Disorder guy can beat him in a swordfight. In the pilot, he ends up on the stake after Arthur points out that his sword Excalibur is magic, so technically Arthur is a magic-user and thus should be sent to the stake. Oh, and his name is the French translation of Warhammer's Witch Hunter.

     Roleplay 
  • Pharisee in Dino Attack RPG has some elements of this. Basically, he believes that he has a divine right to impart justice on people he considers morally wrong, and makes sure that those "wrongdoers" understand.
    • Averted by Dr. Noomi Shaw, who keeps the spiritual aspects of her character to herself and respects the opinions of others. She was deliberately written to avoid falling into this trope.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted for the most part in Warhammer 40K: any public deviance from the norm is rewarded with being shot if you're in the Imperial Guard, burned alive by the Sisters of Battle or sujected to the Inquisition's attention. However, there are those Ciaphas Cain deems Emperor-botherers who get in the way of the real soldiering, such as the Redemptionists.
    • Similarly, the Inquisition is divided over which methods are best suited to fight Chaos. The Puritans would declare Exterminatus on the planet just because someone looked at an Ecclesiarch funny, and the Radicals who actually use daemonic-possessed weapons and magics against daemons being certain they can control it. This being 40K, they tend to prove their points to the other side by assassination and declaring them heretics.
    • Likewise averted by Chaos worshippers in non-Imperial space: the four Chaos gods are opposed in pairs, so any cultists trying to proselytize on another's turf gets chainaxed/raped/burned from inside/decomposed in seconds very quickly.

     Video Games  

  • In World of Warcraft, the Omnicidal Maniac cult Twilight's Hammer took on this role as they did their recruitment drive just before the release of Cataclysm. Oh, and [insert your own character's name here] got to run around shouting silly slogans as s/he infiltrated the cult.
  • Slave Maker: As a result of their constant Abuse Mistake, the would-be rescuers end up "freeing" slaves against their will, resulting in slaves escaping from "freedom" and running back to their master or mistress.
  • Edna Strickland in Back to the Future seems harmless enough in her support for Prohibition in 1931. It later turns out she was the famed "Speakeasy Arsonist". And in two other timelines...

     Web Comics  

  • Seymour of Sinfest often fall into this territory. See the trope illustration, where even God dismisses him as a "loony fanboy".
    • Sinfest is actually an interesting example, because it is a series where the main characters can often see God make signs in the sky, where the Devil runs a Mega Corp., where Jesus and Buddha occasionally drop by for chilling, and where one main character is in a relationship with with a reformed demon girl. Seymour's problem is not that he is trying to push the existence of his god onto characters because everyone knows that various deities exist... but that he refuses to see that there are gray areas between blind and obsessive worshiping and (for example) being genuine friends with a cute girl from hell.
  • Kankri of Homestuck from the Pre-Scratch universe is obsessed with social justice, but, lacking a real cause (and personal issues causing him to automatically reject the validity of one of the only actual causes presented to him), he ends up preaching verbosely for little reason and less benefit. In the Post-Scratch universe, he became Messianiac Archetype for real because the Crapsack World of Alternia and the lingering memories of life in the Pre-Scratch universe gave him an actual cause to champion.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

  • One South Park episode ended with a ban on secular Christmas as well as religious Christmas, all thanks to Kyle's mother. They ended up staging a production by New York minimalist composer Philip Glass, which included all the children in black leotards and doing interpretive dance.
  • On Drawn Together, Princess Clara is prone to this. At one point, she wishes Xandir and his new boyfriend live happily ever after... until God throws them both in the fiery pits of Hell, of course.
  • The Equalists from Legend Of Korra are an anti-bending group. The enemy includes: The Avatar, every last bender in existence because, you know, they're inherently evil, and possibly all non-benders who are not Equalists themselves.
    • And for extra fun, they're dupes of one of the more powerful and frightening benders in the world.


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    Designated Acceptable TargetsAll Gays Are Pedophiles
Accomplice by InactionThe Only Righteous Index of FanaticsAd Hominem
Abusive ParentsVillainsAccuser of the Brethren
The AceAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Adorkable
Absurdly Sharp BladeImageSource/Web ComicsAfter-Action Patchup

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