Reza Aslan, the religious scholar who penned Zealot: The Life and Times, went on show Spirited Debate to talk about the new book and was met with a singular line of debate – How can a Muslim fairly talk about Jesus Christ?

Lauren Green, who represented Fox in the debate, opened up the segment by asking Aslan, “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Attempting to steer the conversation away from his personal beliefs, Aslan politely replied, "Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim."

Aslan calmly and deftly responded to Green’s repeated attempts at casting him as somehow unqualified to comment on Christianity’s savior, and yet the interviewer persisted to the point of accusing the writer of hiding his religion. "Ma’am, the second page of my book says I’m a Muslim," he told Green. "Every single interview I have ever done on TV or in print says I’m a Muslim."

Perhaps, it should have come as no surprise that the interview took the direction it did. A couple days prior, Fox News writer John S. Dickerson wrote an article titled, “Liberal media love new Jesus book Zealot, fail to mention author is Muslim."

When the interview started getting picked up by other sites, most notably by BuzzFeed who dubbed it the “most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done,” the conservative-leaning network got panned, while Aslan got praised for his composure. "This Fox interview with Reza Aslan is absolutely demented (& he handled it with remarkable calm)" said The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is meant to be a historical biography of Jesus the man. Within the book, Aslan paints a picture of Jesus as a revolutionary preacher of the Jewish faith that was essentially a zealot in the eyes of the ruling Romans. It debuted at number 2 on The New York Times best sellers list behind Mark Leibovich’s This Town.

– Chelsea Regan

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