Bill of Rights for Interfaith People

Most interfaith parents worry about their interfaith children. Will they be secure? Confused? Happy?

I’m a happy interfaith child and parent, but I don’t pretend to have all the answers about how to raise interfaith children. Each pathway has benefits and drawbacks. Each family needs to choose a pathway based on their own situation.

What I do strongly advocate is talking to your children about their identity, about the way the world is going to see them, about being strong in their own beliefs no matter what negativity they encounter about their identity.

There is an entire literature on this subject, not for interfaith families, but for mixed race families. I realize  that biracial or multiracial children have a different, and often much larger, set of challenges. In a white American context, they stand out in a way that interfaith children usually do not. Nevertheless, and in large part because of the persistent tribal/racial/ethnic/cultural aspects of Judaism that make it more than just a private belief system, I find the mixed race identity literature compelling and relevant for interfaith children.

Today, I have a new post up at Jewcy.com about how I created the  “Bill of Rights for Interfaith People,” a manifesto I adapted from Dr. Maria P.P. Root‘s “Bill of Rights for Mixed Race People.” Check out that post. And if you have interfaith preteen or teen or adult children, have them read my adapted bill of rights, and then post their reactions in the comments section below…

Bill of Rights for Interfaith People
I HAVE THE RIGHT…
Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the religions separate within me.
Not to justify my religious legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with my religious ambiguity.
I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently than how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently than my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.

I HAVE THE RIGHT…
To create a vocabulary to communicate about being interfaith.
To change my identity over my lifetime–and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.

(Adapted by Susan Katz Miller, with permission, from the Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Race, copyright Maria P.P. Root, PhD, 1993, 1994)

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One Comment on “Bill of Rights for Interfaith People”

  1. Sheri Verdonk Says:

    You go girl!!!! I must read the one for multiraced folk. But it is so true that the path of interfaith, intercultural and interracial peoples is the same the thing that put them on the path is different. I so agree that my children have the right to their own self identification. They need not check the box and put themselves into a category for someone else’s comfort. Pride in all the aspects of who they are is accepted and expected as just being a part of who they are and what they bring to the table of life.

    I like your journey and the thoughts you bring out here. Thank you!


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