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When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

ISBN: 978-0-470-58190-2
272 pages
April 2011, Jossey-Bass
When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (0470581905) cover image
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.

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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

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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.
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December 10, 2012
When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

When Religion Becomes Lethal

The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Jusaism, Christianity, and Islam

San Francisco, CA - Daily headlines remind us that violent extremism in the name of Islam, the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and the violence perpetrated or advocated by religious zealots in the United States too often have deadly consequences.  When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judasim, Christianity and Islam (Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint; April 2011; $27.95; Cloth; ISBN: 978-0-470-58190-2) by Charles Kimball, addresses the urgent global problem of the interplay between fundamentalist Abrahamic religions and politics.  He provides both a much-needed framework for understanding and a hopeful vision for how to chart a safer course for the future.

Kimball draws upon his extensive knowledge, experience and access to all three traditions to explain each religion’s foundational approach to politics and to describe the multiple ways Jews, Christians, and Muslims have engaged political power historically.  He illustrates how none of these religions provide a fixed template and how the dynamic relationship between religion and politics is always a “work in progress.” 

By looking across the centuries at Judaism, Christianity and Islam Kimball helps us to develop constructive ways to evaluate what is going on today in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Iran, and the U.S.  In the process, he explains how “detailed ignorance” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the popular but simplistic “clash of civilizations” theory, and failure to understand the differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites all contribute to deadly outcomes.   

According to Kimball, “today the volatile mix of religion and politics is more lethal than ever,” but it doesn’t have to be this way.  When Religion Becomes Lethal identifies the dangers that lie before us but also offers specific steps to guide us on the perilous journey ahead.

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