Charles Kimball to speak about religion and politics at WFU

By Maggie Barrett
Sept. 22, 2005

Charles Kimball, professor of religion at Wake Forest University, will deliver a lecture titled "Politics, Society and Religion under Islam, Christianity and Judaism" at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 in Carswell Hall's Annenberg Forum (Room 111). The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Wake Forest Committee on Orientation and Lower Division Advising and the Wake Forest Fund for Ethics and Leadership.

Charles Kimball

Kimball's lecture is the final event the university will hold to foster continuing discussion of Azar Nafisi's book about life in the Islamic Republic of Iran, "Reading Lolita in Tehran." The book was Wake Forest's freshman orientation reading assignment for 2005.

Kimball, author of the award-winning 2002 book "When Religion Becomes Evil," is known internationally for his expertise on Islam and the intersection of politics and religion.

In his talk, he will address some of the ways politics and religion have been connected throughout history, focusing on contemporary situations in the Middle East and the United States.

"There are many parallels. In the United States, we recently had two different Supreme Court rulings concerning the posting of the Ten Commandments," Kimball said. "The connections may not be as obvious as religious dimensions playing out in the drafting of the constitution in Iraq, but we can see many examples of difficulties in trying to draw the lines that separate religion and politics."

The dynamic relationship between politics and religion can be a volatile one that has the potential to become dangerous, Kimball says.

"Anytime you have anyone who thinks he or she has God in their pocket, you have the potential for disaster," Kimball said. "Throughout history, the claim that God is on your side has been used to justify any action, no matter how violent or destructive."

Kimball, an ordained Baptist minister, was one of seven Americans to travel to Iran and meet with the Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis in 1979. Since Sept. 11, 2001, he has been one of the most frequently interviewed Islam experts in the country.

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