While some consider religion a pillar of morality and community, others believe it to be the root cause of wars, political strife, and ideological dust-ups. With compassion, honesty, and humor, Lavin’s Top Religion Speakers shine a light on the pivotal role faith continues to play in modern-day life.
Meghan Phelps-Roper grew up in the Westboro-Baptist Church: a notoriously hostile religious group famous for picketing against the LGBTQ community and funeral services for fallen soldiers. In her new memoir Unfollow, as well as in her viral TED Talk, Phelps-Roper not only shares how she escaped her toxic faith—but how empathy and compassion can overcome even the widest of ideological gulfs.
“Whether we are aware of it or not, and regardless if we are believers or not, what the vast majority of us think about when we think about God is a divine version of ourselves.” In his New York Times bestseller God: A Human History, Reza Aslan—one of America’s most prominent voices on religion—transforms the way we think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.
As a former Catholic nun and bestselling religious scholar, Karen Armstrong considers faith in the context of modern life. Her latest book The Lost Art of Scripture offers a new way to read religious texts—and apply their teachings practically. A sought-after religion speaker, she says, “we must plumb our religious insights from our scriptures and let them speak to us today in new and innovative ways.”
Wajahat Ali wrote the first major play about Muslim-Americans post-9/11, produced the critically acclaimed docu-series The Secret Life of Muslims, and was the lead author of the seminal report ‘Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.’ Today, the public intellectual speaks on the multifaceted nature of the American experience, and the growing need for religious and cultural unity.
Negin Farsad reframes persistent social issues through the lens of comedy. The author of How to Make White People Laugh, and producer of The Muslims Are Coming!, Farsad is one of a handful of Iranian-American Muslim filmmakers using humour to bridge our racial, religious, and social divides.
The author of God and The Gay Christian, Matthew Vines hopes to shatter biblical misconceptions that fuel hate and misunderstanding in his rousing religion talks. He has been called “an unlikely advocate (and lightning rod) for those straddling one of the most volatile fault lines in America’s culture war: homosexual Christians.”
Acclaimed filmmaker Bassam Tarique explores the life of American-Muslims in his work, including the Sundance Jury Prize-Winning Ghosts of Sugarland. Intelligent, thoughtful, and brave, Tariq’s religion talks not only question the religious and social differences that divide us—but consider how to transcend them.
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