The Muslim-raised actor starring in National Geographic Channel’s Killing Jesus has defended his casting against the notion that he’s somehow inappropriate for the role.

A reporter at the the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday told actor Haaz Sleiman (Nurse Jackie, 24), an American actor who was raised in Lebanon, that some Christian conservatives weren’t thrilled with his casting in the project. “In Islam, we believe Jesus is a prophet and respect him and follow his teachings and put him beside the Prophet Muhammad—a lot of people don’t know that,” Sleiman said. “As a person who was raised Muslim, it’s an honor to play that… Personally, I’ve been heavily shaped by his teachings.”