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Interfaith marriage: Across the aisles

IN THE crowded annals of marital spite, a 2010 divorce in Illinois—involving a Roman Catholic man and a Jewish woman and lavishly covered by the local press—stands out for the irreconcilable nature of its core dispute. The husband converted to Judaism and promised to raise any children as Jewish, but later changed his mind, saying that his unbaptised daughter risked not going to heaven. He had his daughter baptised and e-mailed his wife a photograph of the event—an action that earned him a court order and threats of prison should he take his child to church again. (Joint religious rights were granted in the divorce settlement.)Yet American rates of interfaith and inter-denominational marriage are rising, to the point where 45% of marriages in the past decade have involved either two religions or Christian doctrines that clash seriously (that rate includes unions spanning the evangelical and mainstream Protestant traditions—when all Protestants are lumped together, the mixed-marriage rate is still 36%). Many are models of tolerance and creativity. Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of a new study of such marriages, records a wedding which featured two New Testament readings, the breaking of a glass (recalling the first-century destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem), the reading of a Jewish marriage contract, a transcendentalist poem and an Apache wedding prayer.Americans are more…

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