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At InterfaithFamily.com, a fundamental point of our mission is arguing that interfaith families should make a religious choice for their children. But it is interesting to hear the perspectives of those who advocate for the opposite view, that it’s OK to raise children in a dual-faith household.
Interfaith Community is one of the handful of organizations nationwide that have this opposing view, alongside the Interfaith Families Project in Maryland, the Family School and Jewish-Catholic Couples Dialogue Group in Chicago, Ill., and Dovetail Institute. These organizations exist on the fringes of the established religious community as nearly all religious educators and leaders stress the impossibility of adopting two religions simultaneously.
About 100 people attended the symposium. Attendees included: interfaith families; adult children of the organization’s founding families; heads of congregational religious schools; Christian and Jewish clergy; and faculty and students from seminaries and universities. There was one rabbi, Rabbi David Posner of Temple Emanu-El, a major Reform synagogue in New York. Surprisingly, there was both a professor and student from the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative movement’s rabbinical school. Said Kate O’Brien, the coordinator of the symposium and a graduate student at JTS, “We’ve brought ourselves out of the safety of our communities, and we are taking a risk.”
The conclusions of the symposium include:
While I don’t agree with the premise of the IFC’s work, I do respect their desire to prevent interfaith families from “making it up as they go along.” But as they say, we still don’t know what the long-term effects or raising children in “both” is. Anecdotally, we’ve seen that it is detrimental to children’s emotional health and often leads to a default adoption of the more mainstream faith.
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