When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs
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When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In this thoroughly revised and updated edition, leading religion and Middle East expert Charles Kimball shows how all religious traditions are susceptible to these basic corruptions and why only authentic faith can prevent such evil.

The Five Warning Signs of Corruption in Religion
1. Absolute Truth Claims
2. Blind Obedience
3. Establishing the "Ideal" Time
4. The End Justifies
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by HarperOne (first published 2002)
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Mikey B.
A very forthright account of the dangers of religion to the human condition. There are many fine examples by this person of faith (he is a Baptist minister) that illustrate how religion can corrode its members and the society around them. The points are so good that if you are a person of no faith you likely will remain that way.

The author is convinced (as most of us are) that since 9/11 we must pay closer attention to what is happening in our religious communities. Unlike the author I am not...more
Julie Ann Dawson
Though I am a practicing pagan, I have always found the study of religion fascinating. Religion is the single most influential things in most people's lives. It defines who they are, where they live, where they work, and whom they marry. I studied comparative religion in college, and continue to read extensively on the subject.

Charles Kimball's "When Religion Becomes Lethal" has an inflammatory title but an uplifting message. It should be required reading for anyone who cares about the influence...more
May 04, 2012 Jackie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in sociology or religious studies
Recommended to Jackie by: Sociology teacher
I have to say, I’m a pretty skeptical person, especially when it comes to religion, so when I began reading Kimball’s book and was informed of his extensive background and close ties to his Baptist Christian faith, I became apprehensive. However, as I continued reading, it became clear to me how Kimball’s history and experience with religion helped him reach the conclusions he comes to in When Religion Becomes Evil and his experience allows him to speak with authority of all the topics he brings...more
Heretics Words
I remember this author coming to my college to give a lecture not long after 9/11. It is not only an intelligent but earnest discourse but he is a professor and also an ordained Baptist minister and has traveled widely; so, he is speaking from education as well as experience. In this book he writes about the three desert/Abrahamic/monotheistic religions as being essentially of the same tradition and the potential for interfaith dialogue. He outlines their history and also talks about how the fun...more
This was a fresh breath of air when it comes to critical thinking concerning religion.
Rarely do I read a critical analysis on the affect of religion on society that respects each religion that is put under the microscope (including the author's own) while not pulling any punches on the disasters of "absolute truth" claims, cultish authoritative figures and the oppressive mix of politics and religion.
The only criticism I have is that the author promoted religious pluralism, which I personally agr...more
Kevin Swanson
I was skeptical of reading this book. I figured it would just be another one of those religious nonfiction texts that my mom is always reading. I wasnt pleasantly surprised to find that this is not the case. Kimball is a very fair and objective narrator with a wealth of knowledge of world religions. The book does an excellent job highlighting what Kimball sees as the root cause of evil deeds committed in the name of religion. He also keeps the book from becoming to drenched in religious terminol...more
Pam Anderson
Wonderful observations by a minister, trained in the Southern Baptist tradition, about the dangers in absolute theology in religion. Having served in the religious studies of many universities he is intimately knowledgeable & specializes in Islamic studies. He examines the role of religion in the world and when it defects from its original purpose. While he claims that religion is basically necessary and positive, he ascribes several warning signs for when religions can become dangerous.
Jun 05, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Maureen by: UMW
Charles Kimball is an ordained Baptist preacher with a kaleidoscopic world view. He has the experience, through his work with the World Council of Churches, to speak authoritatively on this subject. He addresses home-grown errant religious groups, as well as international ones. This book is an easy read on a fascinating topic. Besides having a really great title, it is sure to generate discussion among those who read it.
Angie Lisle
I love the message of this book - acceptance, tolerance, and intelligence are the solutions to preventing evil being done for the sake of religion. And I love that this message is being taught by a Christian minister who is encouraging people to THINK about what they believe and why.

That being said, this is geared for the general public; those with backgrounds in religion/history are probably already aware of these issues.
Despite the dramatic book title, this is a rather even-handed treatment of religion. Both the good and the bad are covered; the Crusades, September 11, the evolution of 'jihad', going to war for peace, and many other issues are examined. The author's points are made via interesting anecdotes, references to and quotations of multiple holy texts and references to more scientific sources. Definitely worth reading.
I really like the book and would recommend anyone to read it. The author is very fair in dealing with all religions and I don't think his take was skewed unfairly to any one side. It really helped me think about issues such as war, religion, and how to reconcile with those of other religions. I really agree with how he presents his arguments and it helped me to reconcile some questions of faith. Great book!
Joshua Duffy
There was some good stuff in this book, and I love where Kimball is trying to go regarding the subject of multi-faith peace, but I think it was written a little softly. Kimball, an ordained Baptist minister, seemed to go out of his way for the sake of accommodation. Something I don't think is needed even when writing about such a sensitive subject.
Sam Kochel
Kimball's review of the history of the religious families of Sarah and Abraham is very informing. He was able to change how I think about modern day issues and religious/political movements. It is a book that I will keep for reference in the future.
A heavy read, he writes in a very scholarly manner which can be off putting to some readers. Otherwise it is a must read for anyone interested in the middle east.
Nov 03, 2008 Eli rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
The title is a turn-off for those who aren't introspective. But once you crack the cover, you won't be able to put this gem down! I have lent this book to several of my friends and they all loved it!
Vania Melamed
A good starter but not enough information. Articulate, but not enough evidence to support the author's examples. May be good for high school research. Wouldn't use it for Debate Team or Theology.
Sep 22, 2012 JC rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Uncompromising understanding of world issues through the eyes of religion. A must read to understand the disasters that can come from pitting one faith against another.
I was disappointed with this book. I wanted it to be better and more understandable. I felt like there were a lot of words to make points I usually could not find.
Thomas Louis Bigelow-Garrett
Finished it in a night, only 240 pages, really interesting read on the danger of religion to the human condition.
Jack Coleman
The warning signs about when your religious group is going whako.
See Sam Harris the end of Faith.
Oct 25, 2007 Bob rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: world-religions
Great book that shows how all religions can become distorted and function as evil rather than good.
So far he has some good points... but I just his style and approach grates with me.
Jan 15, 2011 Liras marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I bought this for a friend. Will borrow it and see if it lives up to what it should.
Very good but not a very "hopeful" book for organized religion....a wake up call!
Used (with proper citation) this book in a sermon "Rancid Religion" once upon a time.
Kristin R
Social Action/Education

Very interesting!
Signo Uddenberg
One of the most impactful books I have read!
Hans Ollaiver
När religionen blir ond. Röd.
You need to read this book!
A good how-to guide.
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Dr. Charles Kimball is professor of comparative religion in the Department of Religion and the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. During the 2006 fall term, he was the Rita and William Bell Visiting Professor at The University of Tulsa. Dr. Kimball is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and holds the M.Div. degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. An...more
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