English author, Karen Armstrong has published many books on religion. As it happens she was also my english teacher in high school, eons ago :)
She is a leading scholar on contemporary religions and won the TED prize in 2009 which she used to implement The Compassion Project, with the aim of refocusing the importance of compassion in all the world faiths as an essential step towards peace and away from inter-faith fear.
Frankly, she is a modern hero.  I'll gather links over time and add to them here. Please visit the compassion site website and sign up, if you believe in the project. There are now compassion project centers across the world, working pro-actively on addressing issues of compassion in their local faith communities to fight against extremism. Change minds, change reality.

90 minute lecture by Karen Armstrong : Watch Online
You can skip the Introduction clip which is mostly housekeeping announcements of the host venue.

Video below is Karen announcing the TED Prize Compassion Project