From Baptist Roots to Interfaith Leader: The Inspiring Journey of Dr. Charles Kimball

Dr. Charles Kimball is the Presidential Professor and Chair of Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. Between 1996 and 2008, he served as Chair of the Department of Religion (1996-2004) and professor of comparative religion in the Department of Religion and the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

Kimball was born in Oklahoma in 1946, and grew up in a Baptist family. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in religion from Oklahoma Baptist University, and later obtained a Master’s degree in divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

An ordained Baptist minister, he received his Th.D. from Harvard University in comparative religion with a specialization in Islamic studies.

Dr. Kimball’s courses at OU include “Introduction to Religious Studies,” “Comparative Religion,” “World Religions in America,” “Conceptions of the Afterlife,” “Religion and Politics in the Middle East,” and “Islam.”

He is a frequent lecturer in universities and church-related settings as well as an expert analyst on the Middle East, Islam, Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, and the intersection of religion and politics in the U.S. He has been interviewed by more than 1,000 local, national, and international media in the past 20 years.

From 1983-1990 he was the Director of the Middle East Office at the National Council of Churches. Over the past 40 years, Kimball has made more than 35 visits to the Middle East and worked closely with Congress, the White House and the State Department during the past 30 years. In 1984, he was a founder of Churches for Middle East Peace,

Since the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Dr. 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.

Prof. Kimball presented the popular 24-lecture course on “Comparative Religion” for The Great Courses. His articles have appeared in a number of publications, including Sojourners, The Christian Century, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Boston Globe. He is the author of six books, including When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2011).

His previous book, When Religion Becomes Evil: Five Warning Signs (HarperOne, rev. ed. 2008), was named one of the “Top 15 Books on Religion” by Publishers Weekly and one of the top ten books of the year by the Association of Parish Clergy.

When Religion Becomes Evive Five Warning Signs

Dr. Kimball’s sixth book, Truth Over Fear: Combatting the Lies About Islam—A Guide for Christians and Muslims Working Together, was published by Westminster/John Knox Press in August 2019.

Throughout his career, Dr. Charles Kimball has worked tirelessly to promote understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths. His scholarship and leadership have made a significant impact on the field of interfaith relations, and he continues to be a respected voice in promoting peace and dialogue around the world.