Karen Armstrong is a British author of numerous works on comparative religion, who first rose to prominence in 1993 with her highly successful A History of God. A former Catholic nun, she asserts that, "All the great traditions are saying the same thing in much the same way, despite their surface differences." They each have in common, she says, an emphasis on the transcendent importance of compassion, as epitomized in the so-called Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Awarded the $100,000 TED Prize in February 2008, she called for drawing up a Charter for Compassion in the spirit of the Golden Rule, to identify shared moral priorities across religious traditions, in order to foster global understanding. It was unveiled in Washington, D.C. in November 2009. Signatories include Prince Hassan of Jordan, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson.
Contemporary and historical religion's most prolific author, Karen Armstrong is a highly sought-after lecturer around the world, and is called upon by governments, universities, and church and secular organizations alike to educate about the world's religions and to inform regarding their place in the modern world. A former Roman Catholic nun, she was educated at Oxford and has taught at London University and London's Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism.
Her writings include A History of God: From Abraham to the Present, the 4000 Year Quest for God; Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths; The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Islam: A Short History; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions; and Muhammad: A Prophet For Our Time. She has been honored around the world especially as a bridge-builder between the Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Her most recent works are A History of the Bible, The Case for God, and 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.
One of the 2008 winners of the TED Prize, chosen for her world-changing work and continuing potential to inspire others to do something great for the world, in November of 2009 the TED community helped Armstrong to launch her Charter for Compassion to help to restore the Golden Rule as the central global religious doctrine.
Karen Armstrong, founder of the Charter for Compassion, discusses recent controversy over the planned building of a mosque and Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero. She argues that it's important to "make room for the other," and concludes that the center could serve to "make peace at the site of tragedy."