When Religion Becomes LethalThe Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
A compelling look at today's complex relationship between religion and politics In his second book, bestselling author Charles Kimball addresses the urgent global problem of the interplay between fundamentalist Abrahamic religions and politics and moves beyond warning signs (the subject of his first book) to the dangerous and lethal outcomes that their interaction can produce. Drawing on his extensive personal and professional knowledge of, experience with and access to all three traditions, Kimball's explanation of the multiple ways religion and politics interconnect within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will illuminate the problems and give readers a hopeful vision for how to chart a safer course into a precarious future. Kimball is the author of When Religion Becomes Evil, one of the most acclaimed post 9/11 books on terrorism and religion Reveals why religion so often leads to deadly results The author has scholarly knowledge and expertise and extensive personal experience with the peoples, cultures, and leaders involved Readable and engaging, this book gives a clear picture of today's complex political and religious reality and offers hope for the future.
Acknowledgments vii 1 Christmas with the Ayatollah: The Volatile Mix of Religion and Politics 1 2 God Gave Us This Land: The Roots of Religion and Politics in Judaism 15 3 Israel: Deadly Confl ict in Zion 33 4 "Render unto Caesar": Religion and Politics in Christianity 58 5 America: One Nation Under God? 75 6 There Is No God But God: Religion and Politics in Islam 96 7 Muslim vs. Muslim: The Struggle for the Soul of Islam 120 8 Iran and Iraq: Axis of Evil or Harbinger of Hope? 137 9 A Road to Disaster: The Fallacy of Fundamentalism 157 10 Hope for the Perilous Journey Ahead 178 Notes 193 Selected Bibliography 229 The Author 233 Name Index 235 Subject index 241
Charles Kimball, Th.D., is presidential professor and director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. An ordained Baptist minister, he is a frequent lecturer in universities and church-related settings as well as an expert analyst on issues related to the Middle East, Islam, Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, and the intersection of religion and politics. He is the author of five books, including the bestselling When Religion Becomes Evil.
Whether it's terrorists in the Middle East who claim inspiration from Islam and express their hatred for the West, or the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, or the violence done by the religious extremists in the United States, it seems religion too often leads to lethal results. Charles Kimball, the author of When Religion Becomes Evil, builds on his bestselling book to offer further insight on a difficult topic. When Religion Becomes Lethal answers key questions and provides a reliable framework for understanding why religious belief—especially in the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—so often leads to violence and what constructive steps can be taken to chart a more hopeful future. Kimball, an expert on comparative religion, has a profound understanding of the often-troubled history between the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim descendents of Abraham. He examines a litany of compelling questions that challenge us today including: Why are the turbulent religious forces now seemingly more threatening than ever before? How representative are violent extremists operating in the name of Islam? What do the large majority of Muslims really want? Is or should America be a Christian nation? What is a Christian nation? Is peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and neighboring Arab and Muslim states really possible? These questions perplex many of us as daily headlines remind us all how even small numbers of religious zealots can wreak havoc on a massive scale. When Religion Becomes Lethal offers a reliable, insightful, and useful way of thinking about and engaging the critical issues of religion and politics.
"Building on decades of experience witnessing and affecting change in the Middle East, Charles Kimball gives a rich examination of religious conflict from the vantage point of a peacemaker. In a world torn by religious extremism, this book provides a pragmatic, hopeful, and much-needed tool for those who seek an honest dialogue of change." —Jim Wallis, founder and CEO, Sojourners, and author, Rediscovering Values "Informed by the best of scholarship and his own extensive experiences and insights, Charles Kimball's When Religion Becomes Lethal is an engaging and riveting must-read on how the interplay of religion and politics in the three great monotheistic traditions can and has led to dangerous and deadly consequences." —John L. Esposito, professor, religion and international affairs, Georgetown University, and author, The Future of Islam "With the courage and clarity of the great reformers and the vision of the prophets, Charles Kimball sets before us the potential of communities of faith in which each honors all." —Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, director, Department of Religion, Chautauqua Institution "At a time when the line between the sacred and secular is slowly fading away in all parts of the world, we need Kimball's steady hand, wit, intelligence, and smart analysis to guide us toward a saner future." —Reza Aslan, author, No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism "In this stunning book, Kimball sheds light on the most dangerous religious movements of our time. His deep understanding of the landscape of religious extremism—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—is shaped by decades of firsthand experience with religious and political leaders in the United States and the Middle East. This is a critical book for navigating today's perilous and explosive religious landscape." —Diana Eck, professor, comparative religion, and director, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University
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