CBS Sunday Morning Opinion: Reza Aslan
In a commentary for CBS Sunday Morning, religious scholar Reza Aslan reflected after the intense debate between actor Ben Affleck and talk show host Bill Maher over “the nature of Islam.” The heated exchange set off spirited analysis on cable news, with talking heads chiming in on every channel. Aslan took a step back to define an important term in this debate: religion.
Sunday Morning: Religion in America
“Religion is not just about the things you believe or the rituals you follow. It’s about who you are as a human being, how you see the world and your place in it,” Aslan said, which is part of what makes it so personal and tied to so many other personal attributes.
Aslan claimed that about 70% of Americans classify themselves as Christian, which does not necessarily mean that they regularly attend church, read the Bible, or are versed in the details of the life of Jesus Christ.
CBS Sunday Morning: Religion and Identity
Instead, “for a great many of that 70%, the phrase ‘I am Christian’ is synonymous with ‘I am American,’” he said. “It is a statement of identity as much as it is a statement of belief.”
That is part of the reason why scripture can be so differently interpreted, as it was during the fight over slavery. Aslan said that this is why it is impossible to categorically state what people of a particular faith believe.
Sunday Morning: Communities of Faith
“It’s irrational to make broad generalizations about the lived experience of any community of faith,” he said. “And it’s just plain bigotry to condemn those communities of faith…based on the actions of a few.”
God and Religion have been hot topics for decades, but according to Aslan, “religion is arguably a greater force in the world today than it has been in centuries.” He claimed that Americans “want more religion in public life, not less.”
Aslan said that this is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about each other, and “religion itself.” What do you think about Aslan’s approach?