The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

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To protect our democracy, we must stand in solidarity with all people, everywhere.

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and An American Martyr in Persia | Distinguished Professor, UC Riverside

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Our Democracy Is “Not Nearly as Stable as We Think It Is” (1:40)

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America Doesn’t Have a Homogenous National Identity. Is This a Weakness, or a Strength? (5:13)

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How Do Marginalized People Become American? “By Fighting for Other Americans” (5:13)

Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Reza Aslan is an internationally-renowned writer, commentator, professor, and religious scholar, whose #1 New York Times bestselling books and packed lectures have propelled him to the frontlines of the fight to protect our freedoms and democracy. His most recent book, An American Martyr in Persia, tells the story of a young man who gave his life for democracy, reminding us that “the suffering of any person anywhere is the responsibility of all peoples everywhere.” Building on his long history of fierce advocacy and writing, Reza proves that one person’s actions can have global consequences, and asks: whose freedom do we really support?

[Reza’s] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. A vivid, persuasive portrait. Salon

In An American Martyr in Persia, Reza follows the story of a little-known American missionary from South Dakota named Howard Baskerville. In 1909, Baskerville died pursuing the same rights that Iranians still fight for today. Through his story, Reza reveals hidden truths about the world we live in today. In reality: our democracy isn’t as stable as we think it is, says Reza. To protect American democracy, we need to remember people around the world, and fight for their rights too.

Reza’s many books explore the history of religion and how we’ve come to understand the divine by assigning it human traits and emotions. His #1 New York Times bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth was translated into dozens of languages around the world and optioned for a film. His book, God: A Human History—another New York Times bestseller—was praised by the Seattle Times, which writes, “Driven by Aslan’s grace and curiosity, God helps us pan out from our troubled times.”

He served as the executive producer of CBS series United States of Al, which follows the unique friendship between a combat veteran and his Afghan interpreter. The show not only offers much-needed representation in Hollywood—it also helps break down stereotypes, confront fear-based narratives, and, perhaps most importantly, humanizes our fraught politics. Reza shows us how fear—organized and well-funded—perpetuates bigotry and victimizes us all. His inspiring talks reveal that it is only when we are united will we have the power to fight it.

Reza was also the consulting producer on the acclaimed HBO series The Leftovers, the host and executive producer of Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, the producer and host of the CNN show Believer, and the Emmy and Peabody Award-nominated Vox web series, The Secret Life of Muslims. He co-founded BoomGen Studios—the premiere entertainment brand for content from and about the Middle East, which has worked on project’s including Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, Netflix’s The Square, Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, Discovery and TLC’s All American Muslim, and National Geographic’s Amreeka.

Reza’s degrees include a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, a PhD in the 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. He’s a tenured Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California and 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.


Reza’s session at the World Affairs conference last Friday was a complete success. Reza has the unique ability to challenge his audience to think differently, while also making them laugh. It was such a treat for us to host him at this year’s conference. We hope to see him again soon at World Affairs.

World Affairs Council

Speech Topics

Politics & Society
An American Martyr in PersiaThe Fight For Democracy Around the World

What do we owe those around the world who are fighting for the rights that we take for granted in America? Today, millions of people are watching the fight for freedom in Iran, which goes back more than a century—all the way to the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. In bestselling author Reza Aslan’s An American Martyr in Persia, he reveals the role a little-known American missionary from South Dakota played in Iran’s first democratic revolution. His name is Howard Baskerville, and he died pursuing the same rights that Iranians are still striving for today.

In this talk, Reza breaks down freedom and democracy through Howard Baskerville’s story and values. He highlights the question Americans must begin to ask ourselves: how seriously do we take our ideals of democracy, and whose freedom do we support? Audiences will feel empowered to seek and protect democracy, not just at home but everywhere in the world. Now more than ever, says Reza, Baskerville’s sacrifice should act as a reminder to us all: the suffering of any person anywhere is the responsibility of all peoples everywhere.

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A World Without Religion

As religious identity begins to fade in the west, it continues to fortify its political power elsewhere. So what’s next? Are we heading toward a future where science and secularism will prevail, or will religion remain a vital part of human identity? In this fascinating multi-media presentation, internationally acclaimed scholar of religions and #1 New York Times bestselling author Reza Aslan takes audiences on a 300,000 year journey through human spirituality to discover what the future of religion may look like.

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Why I Am a Believer

Over the past two decades, Reza Aslan has become one of the most prominent voices in America when it comes to issues of religion and faith. In this deeply personal presentation, the internationally acclaimed scholar, author, producer, and Emmy nominated television personality shares what he has learned over a lifetime of immersing himself in the religions of the world—and why, despite all he has experienced, he remains a believer.

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A Multi-Faith LifeWith Jessica Jackley

Join acclaimed scholar of religions and #1 New York Times best-selling author Reza Aslan for an intimate chat with his wife, author and award-winning social entrepreneur Jessica Jackley, as they discuss the ups and downs of raising a multi-faith family. Aslan, a Muslim, and Jackley, a Christian, share the hilarious lessons they have learned negotiating their different backgrounds, dealing with well-intentioned in-laws, raising spiritually-minded kids, and finding common ground in a world mired in religious conflict.

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