Karen Armstrong is a provocative, original thinker on the role of religion in the modern world.

Why you should listen

Religious thinker Karen Armstrong has written more than 20 books on faith and the major religions, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common, and how our faiths shaped world history and drive current events.

A former nun, Armstrong has written two books about this experience: Through the Narrow Gate, about her seven years in the convent, and The Spiral Staircase, about her subsequent spiritual awakening, when she developed her iconoclastic take on the major monotheistic religions -- and on the strains of fundamentalism common to all. She is a powerful voice for ecumenical understanding.

Armstrong's 2008 TED Prize wish asks us to help her assemble the Charter for Compassion, a document around which religious leaders can work together for peace. In late fall 2008, the first draft of the document was written by the world, via a sharing website.

In February 2009 the words of the world were collected and given to the Council of Conscience, a gathering of religious leaders and thinkers, who are now crafting the final document. The Charter will be launched in November 2009. 

What others say

“I say that religion isn't about believing things. It's ethical alchemy. It's about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.” — Karen Armstrong on Powells.com

Karen Armstrong’s TED talks

Karen Armstrong on the TED Blog
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Peter Storey: "The World's Cup runneth over with compassion"

June 10, 2010

In the Washington Post today, Peter Storey, one of the architects of the Charter for Compassion, shares his thoughts on the eve of the World Cup in his home of South Africa. Just last month, a plaque of the Charter, which was inspired by Karen Armstrong’s 2008 TED Prize wish, was installed by Archbishop Desmond […]

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TED Prize

Charter for Compassion plaques now available

January 11, 2010

When Karen Armstrong was given one wish to change the world through the TED Prize, she wished for the creation of a Charter for Compassion. On November 12th, the charter was unveiled to the world, after months of collaborative effort and multi-denominational participation. At launch, over 60 plaques bearing the charter were hung in significant […]

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TED and Reddit interview Karen Armstrong

November 12, 2009

With the launch of the Charter for Compassion, it’s the TED Blog’s pleasure to unveil Karen Armstrong‘s responses to the top 10 questions asked and voted on by the TED and Reddit community. (See all the questions users asked.) She covers the nature of compassion, the history of the conflict in the Middle East, and […]

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Quotes from Karen Armstrong

Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.
Karen Armstrong
TEDGlobal 2009 • 526K views Sep 2009
Inspiring, Persuasive
If we don’t manage to implement the Golden Rule globally, so that we treat all peoples, wherever and whoever they may be, as though they were as important as ourselves, I doubt that we’ll have a viable world to hand on to the next generation.
Karen Armstrong
TEDGlobal 2009 • 526K views Sep 2009
Inspiring, Persuasive