This week, a new study appears to provide evidence for the theory that the couple that prays together, stays together. That makes sense to me. However, my concern is that this study will be misused to support the mistaken idea that interfaith marriages are doomed, especially since it comes on the heels of a very misleading Washington Post opinion piece which recycled, contorted and misinterpreted old (some of them very old) studies and drew a highly debatable conclusion about the risk of divorce among interfaith couples. Sadly, that bogus and outdated “statistic” is now being widely circulated, citing nothing but that opinon piece as a source. And the Washington Post has yet to admit that the author of that opinion piece is a paid affiliate of the “Institute for American Values, ” a pro-marriage (and anti-gay-marriage) think tank.
In any case, the issue of sharing a religious background or label, and the issue of sharing spiritual experiences including prayer, can and must be separated. My husband and I come from different religious backgrounds, and neither of us has converted. But if you define prayer as moments of ritualized spiritual reflection, we pray together, both at home and surrounded by our interfaith families community.
We may have different religious labels, but we share a love of singing, a connection to family, an appreciation for beauty, a sense that gratitude helps creates peace of mind and peace in the world. We share a belief that expressing our mindfulness of all that is good will help instill values in our children including humbleness, creativity, desire to protect and heal the natural world, thirst for justice. None of this requires a shared mono-faith label, or for that matter, a belief in any sort of traditional God.
We pray together on Shabbat, we pray together at our weekly gatherings with our interfaith families community, and we have experienced powerful moments of prayer together at lifecycle events such as family church funerals and my daughter’s interfaith coming-of-age ceremony. I am sure these experiences do contribute to the strength of our marriage. But, again, none of this requires us to choose one religion.