Last summer author and scholar of religions REZA ASLAN came out with a book that utilized a great deal of historical research to give readers a sense of the man, Jesus of Nazareth. ASLAN had taken on a similar task seven years earlier with his first book NO GOD BUT GOD, in which he tells the story of Mohammed. But the problem for some folks this time around is that Reza Aslan is a Muslim. In an interview that has been viewed at least a million and a half times on YouTube, Lauren Green of Fox News demanded to know, “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” – and that interview sent Aslan’s book, ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, to the top of best-seller lists for weeks.
REZA ASLAN has been a guest on Free Forum a number of times in the past, and I’m happy to welcome him back again, to talk a bit about the reaction, but much more about the content and meaning of his book. He examines Jesus through the lens of the time and place in which he lived, first-century Palestine, and labels him in the book’s title, a zealot – a radical political opponent of the Roman occupation. Because Jesus was crucified without overthrowing Roman rule, he is one of many failed messiahs. But why did this particular failed messiah become the starting point of one of the world’s great religions, wielding enormous influence over two thousand years later among more people than even existed during his lifetime?
Has government of, by and for the people perished from the United States?
January 21st, a divided Supreme Court reversed precedent and law, voting 5-4 in Citizens United v. FEC to remove limits on corporate contributions to political campaigns. We'll discuss the decision in the context of money in politics, looking at potential outcomes and possible remedies.
BOB EDGAR is President and CEO of Common Cause, a grassroots advocacy organization working for democracy reform, with nearly 400,000 members and supporters and state chapters in 36 states. Edgar previously served as general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the leading U.S. organization in the movement for Christian unity, and before that as president of the Claremont School of Theology. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1974, the first Democrat in 82 years to represent the heavily Republican 7th Congressional District near Philadelphia.
SCOTT NELSON is an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, D.C., where he has practiced since August 2001. After graduating with honors from Harvard College, Nelson attended Harvard Law School, and was elected President of the Harvard Law Review in 1983. He then served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Byron White. Nelson represented key Congressional sponsors of McCain-Feingold before the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.