Oprah So tell me, you started out a devout Christian after one of those weekends that we saw in Belief the beginning of Belief, REZA That’s right, OPRAH, Where the kids go away to a kids’ camp, REZA Yeah OPRAH.
And what was that like for you that experience Reza It was, unlike anything, I’d ever experienced. I’D always been very interested in religion and spirituality as a child, Despite the fact that I didn’t really grow up in a particularly religious household.
Really, if anything, I grew up in kind of an anti-religious household, But I think that — OPRAH, Because what was your mother growing up? Reza My mother was sort of culturally Muslim.
The way so many people around the world are culturally religious, Oprah Yes REZA, But it certainly did not dominate her life. It did not dominate our household,
But I think my childhood images of revolutionary Iran really affected me in a very profound way. Reza The –, the power that religion has to transform a society for good and for bad, never left me And so all of my life.
Even when I was 9 10 11 years old. I was deeply interested in religion and in spirituality, But I never had an opportunity to really explore it in any way until this weekend It was a transformative moment for me in OPRAH.
How old were you How old were you REZA 15 OPRAH, 15, 15 OPRAH, So you go away, and you become a Christian Reza Not just a Christian but an evangelical, very conservative.
I guess the term would be fundamentalist. Christian, Yes, OPRAH, Yeah Yeah, did you think a lot about it? Because I joined the church at 8 And I remember thinking long and hard many a Sunday Because in the Baptist Church, there would be this moment where the doors of church are open and all of you who have sinned and come short of the — REZA Right. Oprah, So I would think every week before I joined the church, whether or not I was willing to give up sin, I was literally contemplating Am I ready to fully give up sin?
Can I never sin again? Do I have to follow every single commandment And at 8 years old made the decision yeah? I can give it up REZA. That’s amazing! For me, at 15 it wasn’t so much the sin part.
Obviously, I struggled with that OPRAH, Yes REZA. What was a little bit anxiety producing to me was the missionary part OPRAH? Oh, Reza! Because you know you’re told that there is this salvation that’s available to people who accept this message And to people who don’t. There is not just damnation but eternal punishment. Well, you’re 15, and you start immediately thinking what about my mom OPRAH?
Yes, REZA. What about my dad? What about my best friend? What about my sisters, And so I threw myself zealously into trying to convert the world.
I’ve never been somebody who does things halfheartedly And it worked, actually I converted my mother to Christianity To this day.
She still is a devout Christian, OPRAH devout Christian, Yes REZA. Yes,