Defending Interfaith Families

 

A tidal wave of new interfaith blogposts is washing through the internet. This is a good thing, even though I don’t agree with some of the postings. I  have been paddling around the cyber-ocean for the last day or two, frantically commenting here and there, and it seemed like time to gather some of the recent links for my readers in one place.

One impetus for all the new blog posts  is the impending interfaith wedding (at the end of this month) of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky. Who will officiate? What choices will they make as an interfaith couple (and eventually, as interfaith parents)? One of the longer and more thoughtful pieces, by a religion blogger on Politics Daily, was marred by a link to the recent shoddy and very slanted Washington Post opinion piece  attacking interfaith marriages, by an affiliate of a think tank called the “Institue for American Values” (though the Post did not even acknowledge this affiliation).

 The Post piece purported to show that divorce is higher among interfaith couples, by twisting the flimsy research to fit this assertion, and the Politics Daily blogger repeated the assertion as fact. One really lousy opinion piece, now linked and held up as proof that interfaith marriages fail. It makes me nostalgic (I am a former Newsweek fact-checker) for the rigor and standards of old-school print journalism.

Meanwhile, apparently coincidentally,  a piece defending raising children with both religions by one Kate Fridkis appeared in the Huffington Post. The author is an interfaith child who chose Judaism and is engaged to a Christian. Apparently, she got to know the Interfaith Community in New York City as a teacher in their religious education program. Unfortunately, her blog post had that breezy, cute tone many young bloggers seem to favor. Partly as a result, her post fell prey to an attack from Ed Case of interfaithfamily.com (a website encouraging “Jewish choices”).

Case offers nothing but anecdotal evidence to assert the superiority of choosing one religion over choosing both. And he makes a serious misstep in this paragraph:

Fridkis writes that “a growing number of people are unwilling to give up their religious tradition just because their partner has a different one.” I question whether she has any data to back up that statement. She may be right that there is a trend in that direction – but I hope she isn’t. 
 

Oops. It’s one thing to argue that interfaith couples should choose Judaism for their children. It’s another thing to say you hope people will give up their religion when they intermarry–that’s not the usual stance, in my experience, at interfaithfamily.com.

Case’s post, in turn, stimulated a passionate defense of the “both” option from a (sadly, anonymous) blogger over at a site called fiftypercenters.com, written by a collective of interfaith bloggers (some born as interfaith children, some intermarried). In the past, I have found their orientation to be far more than 50% Jewish. So I was delighted when the blogger known as “Princess Max” posted a detailed rebuttal to Case, calling his post patronizing.  Though I also understand that interfaithfamily.com is caught between a rock (Jewish institutional acceptance and support) and a hard place (the reality of the growing and thriving independent interfaith communities movement).

Anyway, if you are raising your happy children with both religions, or if you are simply in a happy interfaith marriage, I encourage you to go out and post your own comments on any, or all, of these blogs. If we do not want to be ignored, or patronized, or mischaracterized, or misunderstood, we have to continue to speak up.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Interfaith children, interfaith community, Interfaith Identity, Interfaith in the News

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3 Comments on “Defending Interfaith Families”

  1. Sharron Swain Says:

    Thank you so much for continuing to write about these issues, and thanks for giving voice to an identity that I lived for many years before I had a name for it. I often have the sense that it would make some people happier if I would just say I was a this, or a that, or whatever. . .but to me that’s like asking the Gulf to decide if it is the Mississippi River, or the Atlantic, or the Caribbean. . .

  2. KNM Says:

    Interfaithfamily.com does not live up to the promise of its name. Its (unstated) mission is to persuade Jews to stay true to their faith and raise their children as Jews. There are no examples of equal treatment of each parents religion much less stories of families where the other faith is expressed and Judaism is anecdotal. The site relegates non-Jew spouses to a back of the bus status


    • I think interfaithfamily.com is clear and upfront about “encouraging Jewish choices” and they primarily present viewpoints that fit their mission and the mission of their funders. I don’t have a problem with that. Also, they have occasionally posted alternative viewpoints (including my own) in a way that is fairly brave, given the circumstances. It would be great if there was an alternative site with similar funding that would present a fuller array of options for interfaith families–Dovetail did that, but funding was always an issue.


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