The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 13, 2012

Expert on Middle East, religion to speak today

The International Committee of New River Community and Technical College will present a program titled “Lethal Religion: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” today from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Raleigh Playhouse in Uptown Beckley.

Speaker Dr. Charles Kimball, presidential professor and director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma and former chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University, will discuss “the very real and dangerous dynamic in and between these three religions and how we can understand this dynamic in a more accurate and helpful way.”

Kimball is the author of the New York Times bestseller “When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs,” which was named one of the Top 15 Books on Religion by Publishers Weekly and one of the top 10 books of the year by the Association of Parish clergy. It has been published in Swedish, Indonesian, Korean, and Danish translations. He also authored the sequel, “When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Kimball has been interviewed by more than 700 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. He also met with Iranian leaders during the hostage crisis in 1979-80.

Part of his purpose for the talk will be to engage a discussion about these religions that pushes past the monolithic ideas American share about the Middle East and encourage educated and helpful ways to communicate about them.

“Everywhere there is an effort to break through the ignorance for understanding for people on both sides. And there are people on both sides that view the other through the lens of their most extreme behavior,” he said.

“There are people in American who view Middle East through the violence of the intense riots in Egypt and there are people in the Muslim world that look at the minister in Florida that burns Qurans and try to draw conclusions about who Christians are. How do we break through and recognize there are extremists and violence, but not the majority of Muslims and Christians are extreme and violent?”

Kimball has lectures at more than 200 college campuses across the United States and has specialized in Islam, politics and the Middle East for more than 30 years.

The program is open to the public free of charge. It will be moderated by Dr. Michael Curry, assistant dean of New River’s Beckley Campus.

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