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June 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm #4769

Jane Larkin

Anyone read Interfaith Families: Can You Be Jewish and Christian at the Same Time on Huffington Post? … 18731.html

I guess I wonder if these children will really end up with any religious identity. I wonder if the author’s opinion will change once she has children. Curious to what others thought?

June 25, 2010 at 7:42 pm #4771

Debbie B.

I think kids who say they are “both Jewish and Christian” are culturally, rather than religiously “both”. It’s like the way that I can feel both Chinese and American. But if China and the US were at war, my allegiance would be 100% US. Similarly, these interfaith children may find that there may be times when they are forced to choose one religion. I’m an American-Born Chinese, by the way, and have never even visited China, nor do I speak Chinese. But my Chinese identity does go beyond liking Chinese food.

On the other hand, I do not think it makes sense to truly be both religiously Jewish and Christian at the same time. I suspect that for most of these children, “religion” means simply participating in some rituals and holidays, and that they do not have strong religious beliefs. It does not make sense, for example, to believe both that Jesus was and was not divine.

Perhaps that a level of religious commitment that allows for dual religious identities works for some people, both parents and children. It might be perfectly satisfactory for parents who don’t have particularly strong religious backgrounds or beliefs themselves. As the author points out, dual upbringing is not likely to be the choice of parents with strong religious observances and beliefs.

However, I have always wanted to bring up my children with a stronger religious upbringing than I had myself.  As a committed Jew by Choice, who converted my (patrilineal Jewish) children before I converted myself, I’d prefer that my children marry other Jews, and if they marry non-Jews, I’d prefer that they raise their children as Jews. But (a) how they raise their children is their own choice, and (b) I think I would rather have grandchildren who are given a thorough Catholic upbringing (for example) than what is likely to be a more superficial dual Jewish-Christian exposure. If my children choose to leave Judaism and convert to another religion, that is their choice (I converted to another religion myself, so how could I say that they could not?), but at least I know that they would know what it is that they are leaving.

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