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When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs (Plus) Paperback – February 26, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Charles Kimball's book, "When Religion Becomes Evil" addresses the problem of corrupted religion and how to recognize it. He uses five warning signs to define such corruption- claims of absolute truth, demands of blind obedience, establishment of the "ideal" time, justification of means by the end, and declaration of holy war. We certainly have enough examples, from the Branch Davidians of David Koresh, to Heaven's Gate and Jim Jones, on through to Osama bin Ladin. All of these were or are demonstrably pathological. They all led to death and destruction for their followers and often innocent bystanders. Others, while not so extreme, are dangerous enough to warrant observation. These include several organizations of the so-called religious right in this country who often advocate violence indirectly by condemning certain groups that are deemed unworthy or under the control of Satan. As Kimball (who is a Baptist academic) notes exclusionary literal religions can indeed be a danger to democracy and to the general welfare of the society.Read more ›
A valid criticism that was raised by another reader is Dr. Kimball's use of the term "authentic" (which means genuine, real, true, undoubted, unquestionable, factual, verifiable) for his sort of religion. That assumes that all religious expression that he disagrees with is "inauthentic." One may argue that one type of religion is better than another in certain specific ways, as the author has, but that does not mean that bad religion is inauthentic. Bad religion is as real as good religion, just as bad politics are as real as good politics. Using the term authentic provides a temptation to use it as a copout. When someone criticizes the bad use of religion, an apologist could reply, "Well, that is not 'authentic' religion. Only good religion is true religion," thus making criticism of religion impossible, because any ills will be brushed aside as "inauthentic" and not due to religion at all. I prefer Dr. Kimball's other adjectives for good religion: healthy, dynamic, honest, etc.
A second valid criticism that was raised is, that while it is true that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all stem from the same root, Kimball goes overboard when he says on page 50 that "There is simply no ambiguity here. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are talking about the same deity." That is an oversimplification.Read more ›
Like so many books in this genre, When Religion Becomes Evil was scheduled for publication on the one year anniversary of the 9/11/01 tragedies. It could not have been timed better or be more relevant and important. For it not only points out the five basic corruptions that manifest themselves in each of the major religious traditions, but it holds out hope that each of those religions has within it the wherewithal to root out and correct those flaws. Yet we must be willing to hold ourselves and our faith institutions accountable for the intolerance we practice.
Kimball states that religion is arguably the most powerful and persuasive force on earth and that yes, it is the problem. It is the problem because each seems to hold that it alone has the absolute truth, demands blind obedience, and justifies the means used by the end goal (presumably salvation or "right living.") Somehow, Kimball has reinvigorated the often used argument that the basic teaching of the world faith traditions (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist) have been used for corrupt ends, yet are in themselves the seeds for healing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a really good book and explained how religion can become evil. He did a very good job at not showing any biasPublished 3 months ago by Randall Boone
Very good book and in good contional, basically new for only about $4!Published 4 months ago by john
Lots of good data. Things to watch for in the near future.Published 7 months ago by William L. Hamilton
Just as described and shipped immediately. Very good book.Published 15 months ago by Susan Urquhart
A very timely message for our times to help us identify when religion crosses the line from helpful to dangerous. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
Charles Kimball seems well qualified to write about the dangers of religion. As the book jacket tells us, he is a professor of religion at Wake Forest University and an ordained... Read morePublished on October 11, 2013 by Fezziwig