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When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles…

When Religion Becomes Evil (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Charles Kimball (Author)

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422536,679 (3.99)3
Title:When Religion Becomes Evil
Authors:Charles Kimball (Author)
Info:HarperOne (2003), Edition: Reprint, 256 pages
Collections:AIM College of Theological Studies

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When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs by Charles Kimball (2002)



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I mainly planned to read this book because it was doing the same thing I'm doing in the book I'm writing and hope to publish. I thought it was written by some nice, probably obscure, professor who did what university professors tend to do: publish books that are good, but not widely known.

Boy, was *I* wrong. Charles Kimball got his Harvard Th.D. in comparative religion, specializing in Islamic studies, and is an ordained Baptist minister. He lived 20 years in the Middle East, working with the World Council of Churches and also government-related organizations. He met most big players in the Middle and Near East during that time (including the Ayatollah Khomeini, who met with him because he was one of the few Americans who really knew Islam). He continued to work with the WCC and interfaith organizations when he returned to the U.S. He is now the Chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University.

And does he know his stuff! He believes the core of every religion is the push for social peace and mercy, but claims there are five warning signs for religion instead becoming evil: 1) absolute truth claims; 2) blind obedience; 3) establishing the "ideal" time; 4) end justifies the means; 5) declaration of holy war. He can trace histories of how these ideas corrupt religions and turn them violent, from the Crusades to Sikh/Hindu conflicts, to the Israeli/Palestinian situation, to the current American Religious Right.

I'm not sure he gave quite enough credence to the fact that rigidity and violence do always tend to accompany almost every religion, no matter how much it preaches peace. He might turn the question back on me, and ask if I've known any major non-religious world view, with lots of adherents, that didn't have a similar problem; perhaps the problem is the human heart rather than the belief system.

But his analysis is deep and detailed, and compassion runs through this book as its lifeblood and energizing force. It was humbling to encounter someone of such experience, who still views the world with hope and compassion even after all he has seen. ( )
2 vote kashicat | Mar 28, 2013 |
An excellent book focusing on where religion goes wrong, our vulnerability, and naive approach for saving ourselves. Touches on cults, and the trap many fall into. The separation and enmeshment with government. ( )
  DrDan1416 | Feb 14, 2010 |
Lent my copy to a Muslim friend I worked with from Pakistan. While he was skeptical at first, he thanked me and raved at its balanced treatment of the subject and its pointing us to the so obvious evil in shedding blood over beliefs when God is so seemingly silent. All our blood is red. To me, it is spirited common sense and fits with Jesus’ Golden rule. I can only follow the Spirit as it is given to me. I do seriously believe and try to live the invitation by Jesus Christ to “seek and you shall find.” I have already found much in my search, and expect more, but will take whatever I discover. And that is a lifetime of work.
1 vote kerowackie | Aug 5, 2008 |
Good book, not enough time to read; have since purchased for myself and for my (conservative) Dad and (liberal) son: would like to have all three of us read and discuss, though that seems unlikely to happen. I was on page 95 when I had to stop, and need to go back and finish. ( )
  jopearson56 | May 11, 2008 |
This book should be required reading in middle school or grade school. I don't know if it would make a significant dent in religious nuttiness or not, but at least everyone else would know who to worry about - the kids who didn't like the class.
  bobshackleton | Mar 23, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060556102, Paperback)

Top Religion Book of 2002--Publishers Weekly

The Five Warning Signs of Corruption in Religion

Absolute Truth ClaimsBlind ObedienceEstablishing the "Ideal" TimeThe End Justifies Any MeansDeclaring Holy War

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Religion and mid-East politics expert Charles Kimball offers a timely examination of the nature and signs of religious evil, while outlining the correctives to these corruptions within each of the major religious traditions. Grounded in his experience as a Christian working closely with Muslims and Jews at the intersections of politics and religion over the past twenty-five years, Kimball outlines a clear description of the five basic corruptions that manifest themselves in each of the major religious traditions. While no single tradition is exempt from these corruptions, each has the ability and means to identify and correct such tendencies within its own wisdom tradition. When Religion Becomes Evil offers a reliable guide to this urgent global issue, showing us that the ways in which people of faith understand and live out their deepest religious commitments will have profound consequences for the future of humanity" -- www.faculty-staff.ou.edu… (more)

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