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, multiracial children 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.

In this spirit, I give you 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.” For more on the creation of this work, read my recent post on Jewcy.com.

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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