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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 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Monday, December 10, 2012 8:08 am EST
"today the volatile mix of religion and politics is more lethal than ever"

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 Judaisim, 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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