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College News

"When Religion Becomes Evil"

January 30, 2006

Category: Academics, Events, Students


Dr. Charles KimballThe Catawba College Community Forum will sponsor a presentation by Dr. Charles Kimball, author of the book, When Religion Becomes Evil, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 21, 2006 in Tom Smith Auditorium in Ralph W. Ketner Hall on campus.

"Religion has always been a powerful and pervasive force in human society," writes Dr. Kimball, who is also professor of comparative religion in the Department of Religion and the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. "Religion has inspired people to their highest and noblest best and, at times, religion has been used to justify some of the worst things human beings have done to one another. The dangers posed by religiously inspired extremists are escalating. In our post 9/11 world, we now know that there are many types of weapons of mass destruction and small numbers of people can wreak havoc on a global scale."

Dr. Kimball is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and holds the M.Div. degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. An ordained Baptist minister, he received his Th.D. from Harvard University in comparative religion with specialization in Islamic studies.

Dr. Kimball 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 in the United States. From 1983-1990, he was the Director of the Middle East Office at the National Council of Churches, based in New York. He has made more than 35 visits to the Middle East and worked closely with Congress, the White House and the State Department during the past 20 years. He is the author of four books, including When Religion Becomes Evil (HarperSanFrancisco, 2002) which was named one of the "Top 15 Books on Religion for 2002" by Publishers Weekly and one of the top ten books of the year by the Association of Parish Clergy. It has been published in Swedish, Indonesian, Korean and Danish translations.

Since the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon,   Dr. Kimball has been interviewed by more than 500 TV and radio stations as well as major newspapers and broadcast outlets throughout the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Australia and South Africa.  

Working across the major religions and through the centuries, Dr. Kimball will explore some of the major warning signs of religion being used for violent purposes. "The more we can understand the dangers," he writes, "the more likely we can recognize and avoid destructive behavior aimed at us and destructive behavior we might direct toward others."

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a book signing by Dr. Kimball.