Reza Aslan: Most Christians are clueless about Jesus — who wanted the rich to be poor
Religious scholar Reza Aslan said Jesus and his teachings were far more radical than most modern Christians understand.
In an interview with Pivot’s “TakePart Live,” the author said the historical facts about Jesus suggest he intended to upend the social order – and he wanted his followers to do the same.
“Look at the bare-bone facts of this guy’s life, what you are talking about is a poor – and I mean poorest of the poor – uneducated, very likely illiterate, marginal Jewish peasant from the backwoods of Galilee who, despite all of that, starts this movement on behalf of the poor, the weak, the dispossessed, the marginalized, (and) women,” Aslan said.
“This is all about equalizing everyone, that everyone is on the same plane,” he continued. “But Jesus never talked about equality – he talked about the reversal of the social order. He was envisioning a world in which the last would be first and the first would be last. The rich would be made poor, the poor would be made rich. That is an incredibly revolutionary, radical idea.”
Aslan also discussed Islam, saying the U.S. had chosen the wrong allies in its fight against Middle Eastern militants.
“Did you know that in the last month Saudi Arabia has decapitated 19 people?” Aslan said. “That’s our closest ally, and more than half of that 19 was for non-violent crimes, mostly drug offenses.”
He told host Meghan McCain that the U.S. basically has no choice but to battle Islamic State militants.
“This is an organization that has to be dealt with,” Aslan said. “They are fighting a war of the imagination, these militants have to be destroyed – there’s no question about it.”
Co-host Jacob Soboroff read a tweet posted online by a Muslim woman denouncing “any person that condones, advocates, or commits violence against innocent people,” accusing them of twisting Islam and using the hashtag “not in my name.”
“The problem is, you’re talking about the second-largest religion in the world, 1.6 billion people, without a center,” Aslan said. “There’s no Muslim pope, there’s no Muslim Vatican. There’s nobody that gets to say what is and what is not Islam, and that allows for usually the loudest voices to rise to the top.”
He compared the dynamic to the present-day Republican Party, where moderate voices – such as McCain – are often drowned out by Tea Party radicals and far-right religious conservatives.
“You know what this is like, Meghan, I mean, to constantly be like, ‘That’s not my GOP!’” Aslan said.
McCain laughed, but she downplayed the comparison.
“Extremists with anything get the most attention,” she said. “I think that’s part of it, as well.”
Watch portions from the interview posted online by TakePart Live: