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2008 Undergraduate Fellows Report: A Leap of Faith: Interreligious Marriage in America

December 31, 2008

The Berkley Center’s 2008 Undergraduate Fellows Program provided a select group of ten Georgetown undergraduate students with the resources to study interreligious marriage in America. Starting in January 2008, the Fellows met bi-weekly throughout the year to discuss the developments and progress of their research and analysis. They interviewed forty-five different couples focusing on the challenges and benefits that arise within interreligious marriage on a personal level to provide qualitative insights to this growing area of research. The interviews were divided into four religious combinations: Jewish–Christian, Muslim–Christian, Hindu–Christian, and Buddhist–Christian. The Fellows hope to provide insight into the lives of people that practice religious tolerance daily and hope that these findings will not only provide further information about the challenges and benefits of interreligious marriage but will also offer a micro-level view of religious tolerance that can be a model of global dynamics.

2008 Undergraduate Fellows: Nayha Arora, Jason Michael Cheberenchick, Jonathan Cohn, Sarath Ganji, Donna Harati, Jessica Rae Holland, Rustin Kashani, Anna O. Thomas, Raymond Tolentino, Kimberly Pendleton Schisler

Faculty Advisor and Co- Editor: Dean Chester Gillis: Interim Dean of Georgetown College, Founding Director of the Program on the Church and Interreligious Dialogue, Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies

Director and Co-Editor: Erika B. Seamon: Ph.D. Student, Religious Pluralism in the United States

Program Coordinator: Melody Fox Ahmed: Program and Business Manager, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

This report documents the personal experience with interreligious marriage that these couples shared; their stories range from the communication skills acquired to familial challenges endured. Most of the interviewees also shared advice, some of which is intended directly for other interreligious couples and some that applies more broadly to all of us committed to appreciating one another amidst religious diversity. With each forty-five minute interview the students sought to gain an understanding of the daily lives of interreligious couples, breathing life into the existing studies of interreligious dynamics in America’s communities. While the authors recognize that this qualitative data is neither statistically significant nor representative of every interreligious marriage, they contend that it is a lens through which one can better understand interreligious issues, from the point of view of those who know them best. As such, these findings provide a starting point from which future research may be conducted.

Table of Contents
About this Report
Introduction
Common Themes
Theology of Christian Marriage
Jewish–Christian Marriage
Muslim–Christian Marriage
Hindu–Christian Marriage
Buddhist–Christian Marriage
Advice for Couples
Conclusion

>>  pdf