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OCU speaker series features anti-hate activist Reza Aslan

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Senior Reporter

OKLAHOMA CITY – For this year’s annual Martha Jean Lemon Distinguished Speaker Series, Oklahoma City University will host Reza Aslan, a scholar known for his work to counteract white nationalist movements and Islamophobia.

An internationally renowned writer, commentator, professor, producer and religion scholar, Aslan will give a multi-media presentation on Tuesday, September 21at 7 p.m., titled “A World without Religion” in OCU’s Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center, located at Blackwelder Avenue & NW 25th Street.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Seating is on a first come, first served basis and subject to capacity. The event is free to the public.

Aslan’s presentation will explore his belief that religious identity has seemed to fade in western cultures, yet continues to strengthen its political power elsewhere. He will give his interpretation of what may come next. 

Aslan asks, will science and secularism prevail, or will religion remain a vital part of human identity?

“The U.S. has seen a dramatic rise in white nationalist movements, some of it stirred up and amplified by political campaigns,” said Amy Cataldi, dean of OCU’s Petree College of Arts and Sciences. “We look forward to hearing a scholar’s perspective on how we, as a country striving for equality, can stand together against those who use religion as a tool for hate.”

Aslan has spoken on a variety of subjects, including the so-called “Muslim ban,” Islamophobia in America, the Arab Spring, and Jewish-Muslim relations. He authored a #1 New York Times bestseller titled “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” and the more recent “God: A Human History,” a book on the history of the divine. He is a consulting producer for the HBO series “The Leftovers” and the CBS comedy “United States of Al.”

Aslan earned a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in sociology of religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction.

A tenured creative writing professor at the University of California, Riverside, Aslan serves on the board of trustees for the Chicago Theological Seminary and The Yale Humanist Community, which supports atheists, agnostics, and humanists at home and abroad. He is a member of the American Academy of Religions, the Society of Biblical Literature and the International Qur’anic Studies Association.

The Martha Jean Lemon Distinguished Speakers Series was established by Lynette Lemon Wert and Larry H. Lemon on behalf of the Lemon family of Oklahoma City and in honor of their sister, Martha Jean, who graduated from OCU in 1968 with a degree in history and worked as an independent comparative religion scholar.

The series features speakers from a wide array of backgrounds and fields of expertise.

For more information about the Sept. 21 presentation, including the latest campus COVID-19 response protocols, visit okcu.edu/artsci/enrichment or call 405-208-5446.

An internationally renowned writer, commentator, professor, producer and religion scholar, Reza Aslan will give a multi-media presentation on Tuesday, September 21at 7 p.m., titled “A World without Religion” at OCU’s Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center during this year’s Martha Jean Lemon Distinguished Speaker Series. Photo provided.