Tag Archives: interfaith marriage

Religious Tolerance: find the beauty in every religion

In more recent years, religions across the world have been on the decline. According to the Washington Post, in the 1950s those who identified with no religion was at about 2 percent of the entire population. In 1970, this percentage grew to 7 percent. Now, the percentage has swelled to almost 20 percent of the population.

According to Pew, 74 percent of those who don’t identify with a religion grew up without a religious belief.

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It’s hard to locate the source of the problem. With the younger generations it seems religion and faith have taken a back seat. More children are being raised faithless in the United States than every before. The decline in religion dates to the 1990s when trust in religious institution became questionable. Scandal is no stranger to religion, including sexual scandals of church leaders and the church’s opposition of same-sex marriage.

1worldI’ve noticed the decline of religion in my life. My great-grandparents were straight off the boat Irish, strict Roman Catholics. Both my grandparents and my parents were raised Roman Catholic, but me? Well, I was raised Roman Catholic too, but not in the same sense they were. My upbringing was not strict. We did everything the normal Catholics did. My siblings and I have all been baptized, confessed, communed and confirmed. We used to always go to church on Sundays until there was some controversy with my mom’s favorite priest, and we stopped going after he left the parish.

Over the years I’ve grown apart from the religion I was raised in. Learning about other religions and understanding what others believe in has made me more accepting of other ideas. Maybe Catholicism isn’t the only important religion out there? Maybe I think there’s more than one God? Maybe I don’t even believe in God?

I have always been one to question religion and I think I always will. There will never be a way to really known and that’s why we have faith. As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost the faith I had in the Catholic church. I like to think that I’ve developed a syncretic religion that is all my own.

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Here is what I know…

  1. I love the Amish life of simplicity.
  2. I love the Taoist idea of the Tao. The feeling inside of you that cannot be described in words. The source and the driving force behind everything. When you have to make a decision and something instinctively tells you to make a certain decision, that’s the Tao working inside you. The Tao will always keep you on the path meant for you.
  3. I love that marriage is a central notion for Mormon life. They believe God ordered them to get marriage and have children. Mormons believe that the family continues on together to salvation after death and I hope that’s true.
  4. I love all of the ideas behind Sikhism. They believe that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in your mind, to live honestly, to work hard, to treat everyone as an equal and to be generous to the less fortunate. I think if we could all learn to live like the Sikhs the world would be a much happier place.
  5. I love the Wiccan quote “If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible is the wind and the rain.” Like me, the Wiccans believe in the very world they see right before their eyes.
  6. The unity and push for equality that surrounds the Unitarian Universalists is beautiful. I hope one day all religions can be this accepting.
  7. I like that Scientology seeks to base their beliefs in something concrete.
  8. I love the Buddhist idea of reincarnation. For me, reincarnation is the explanation for déjà vu. Why do I feel like I have been here before? Because you have been. Why do I know exactly what he is about to say? Because you’ve heard it before.
  9. I simply love the Rastafarian dreadlocks.
  10. I love the Jain idea of bad karma accumulating on the human soul and that the human has to spend their life “chipping away” that karma. It gives us a reason to live for the good.
  11. I love the Bahá’í belief that greater good will prevail when humanity works together in unity for the benefit of not themselves, but others.
  12. I love that Zoroastrians pray facing the sun because it symbolizes God’s divine light.
  13. I love that Spiritualists believe that every soul lives past physical death and that all souls are reunited.
  14. I love that Santeria was born because the African slaves felt so strongly about their religion they refused to completely convert, but instead blended religions.
  15. I love that Atheists believe in humanity rather than a higher being and that they believe the real reward is living a good life now while you’re here to live it.
  16. I love Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and that they are required to help the less fortunate.
  17. I love that Hasidic Jews live together in tight-knit communities where they really care about each other.
  18. I love the Shinto notion that there are kamis there to guide us. Everyone can use a helping hand now and then.
  19. I love that Candomblé doesn’t believe in good or bad. Just that one person should live their life in order to fulfill their own destiny as best they can.
  20. I love the creativity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  21. I love that Confucianism teaches that human nature is “teachable, improvable, and perfectible.”
  22. Interfaith marriage is beautiful.

And let’s face it… I have nothing nice to say about the Westboro Baptist Church.

When you take a chance to open yourself to others beliefs you might be surprised. You might end up believing in something you weren’t raised to believe in. You might learn to tolerate others in a new way. There is something beautiful in every religion if you take the time to find it.

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Combining Love: Interfaith marriage

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Throughout the past few years, America has made strides in becoming a more open nation in terms of marriage. Although times and viewpoints are still changing, the concepts of interfaith marriage, interracial marriage, and even gay marriage are being more openly accepted in our society. According to the National Study of Youth and Religion, less than a quarter of the 18-to 23-year-old respondents believed that it was important to marry someone of the same faith. However, like any true controversial issue, there are both positives and negatives to interfaith marriage.

An interfaith marriage can pose many issues to the couple and the family unit. Within a interfaith marriage a power struggle may be created over which religion is more important. This is especially true if a child is brought into the picture. The couple must decide to either raise the child within one religion or expose them to both religions in the household. Both parent will interfaith-marriages-in-Britainobviously feel a strong inclination to raise their child in their own religion. If there are two different religions present there will likely be two different sets of holidays and traditions. Although celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah may seem like an advantage, it could also cause tension within the marriage as each person in the couple believes that their holidays and traditions are more important. Couples of interfaith marriages may be more likely to fight over which traditions they want to celebrate. It would be easy for disagreements to add up over time as religion ties into many other aspects of like, like how to raise children or spend time.

There are also many advantages to an interfaith marriage and growing up as a child within an interfaith family. Rather than being defined by one single religion, children from interfaith marriages have the advantage of experiencing two different religions. Instead of growing up with one faith, children within interfaith marriages feel more free to explore their own beliefs. The child would be more aware of the various faiths that exist and would be more tolerant of other religions. Allowing the child to take part in both religions will give them a more complete picture of what faith is about and lead them to eventually make their own decisions about what they believe. Another positive aspect is that interfaith marriage can also strengthen the bond between the couple. In terms of religion, the couple would have to be very open with communication and willing to occasionally compromise on things like holidays and traditions. Interfaith marriages will create more diversity among the population and society will become more integrated and tolerant to different religions.

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I personally feel that interfaith marriages can be both informative and rewarding. To limit oneself solely to one religion is ludicrous. There is a whole world of beliefs and religions out there and it seems naive to not expose oneself to other religions or at the very least become informed about them. Without being informed on the other religions that exist how can one know what religion they truly believe in without blindly accepting the faith they were taught as a child by their parents. I believe that as long as the couple have a strong relationship with open communication they can compromise on the important aspects of both religions and allow their child to make their own informed decision about religion.

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