Mehmet Oz, better known as simply Dr. Oz, was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Bozkir, Turkey. He holds dual citizenship.
Oz is a Muslim, but seems to hold a nuanced view of his religion, weighing the many sects for their pros and cons and even venturing outside of Islam for some of his spiritual views. He speaks of the dichotomy between his mother and father’s views on Islam growing up–and the influence of certain types of Islam in the area of Turkey in which he grew up:
I’ve struggled a lot with my Muslim identity, in part because in my family there were two very different perspectives on it. My mother’s family is a very secular family. They’re very proud that they’re secular Turks… My father’s family, a much more traditional family… religion was their core essence. It defined who they were, it’s what gave them their morality. They would never feel comfortable separating away their view toward the law from their view toward their religion.
Oz goes on to say how he was more attracted to the spiritual element of religion rather than the legal, historical, social aspects. This eventually led him to the Sufi Muslims, who he feels were able to separate away the “99% of reality that we think is there and looking at the real, important 1% beneath the veneer, the true connection with God.”
However, beyond Islam, Oz was introduced and attached himself to the Protestant mysticism of his wife’s religion–Swedenborgian Christianity. This small, mostly unknown sect of Protestantism is based around the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who was known for his God-inspired trances (similar to the whirling, spinning trances advocated by the Sufi Muslims) and his out-of-body experiences during which Swedenborg claims to have visited various planets in the solar system.
Oz’s politics are, to some extent, a mixed bag–though not nearly as much as his religious views. Of the nearly $20,000 he’s given to political candidates, $16,500 was to Republicans.
Unlike the majority of outspoken public figures in 2008, Oz was not an Obama supporter and, in fact, sided with McCain, contributing $4,400 to his presidential campaign.
However, like a good-hearted physician, Oz has stood against the Republicans when it comes to health care. He’s disgusted with the fact that people get sick and die because of lack of funds in the world’s most prosperous country. Moreover, Oz is tired of the political bickering surrounding the issue. Oz has advocated for a health-based entitlement program in the U.S., similar to the one proposed by Hillary Clinton and, later, Barack Obama.
That doesn’t mean he’s a Democrat. In fact, Oz has spoken about the possibility of running for office on the Republican ticket, calling himself a “moderate Republican” and invoking the rugged individualism of Teddy Roosevelt as his inspiration for considering public office.