Recently, in a lecture BP and I attended on different religious traditions, the point was made that fundamentalists of different faiths have more in common with other fundamentalists, than with liberals of their own faith group. We've certainly seen this as it relates to women, and to gay people. Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists aren't so far apart on these issues. The spectacular silence of Christian conservatives about the Uganda gay death bill is no different than the failure of Islamic extremists to condemn the brutal torture and execution of gays in Iraq (more here).
But this got me to wondering: at what point does the squabbling between different extremes of Christianity become severe enough that Christianity becomes two different religions? Can you really say that an inclusive believer who embraces reason and conscience, and accepts the Bible as full of paradox and ambiguity, has anything left in common with a authoritarian exclusivist with a fundamentalist world-view, focused on sin and and literalist reading of Scripture? Given the accusations of idolatry and heresy that get thrown back and forth.... mostly back....Still, it seems to me that one view is all about the hope and promise of the resurrection, and the other is about the horror and suffering of the crucifixion. They have diverged in fundamental ways.
In any case, if you eliminate the ethnic component to religious identity (that is, being Catholic because your parents were), what are the chances for a realignment? Liberal Catholics, Episcopalians, and Lutherans have much more in common with each other than with their Talibanist right-wings and authoritarians.
At what point will there be two different religions?