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What do Secular, Secularisation, and Secularisation Theory Mean? 2. Secularisation Theory 1. The Dalai Lama Defends Secularism as a Way to Respect All Religion 2. S. Bruce Defends Secularisation Theory (1996) 3. Religion in Europe 4. The Defiers of Secularisation
1. What do Secular, Secularisation, and Secularisation Theory Mean?
“...the ongoing, growing, and powerful movement called secularism, a way of understanding
and living that is indifferent to religion -- in fact, not even concerned enough to pay it any attention, much less oppose it. National Council of Churches1 The word secular denotes something that is not religious in nature. So, many people are not religious so they lead secular lives. But belief and practice aren't synonymous, so many things can be secular in nature even though the individuals involved are religious. You can therefore have a secular government, whose activities are not religious and who does not codify or represent a particular religion. This is the norm in democratic countries. The individuals that make up the government are rightly free to have whatever religion they want, as are the populace. Because of this freedom, in a multicultural world, there is a requirement for governments not to cause resentment or divisions by identifying itself with a particular religion. The most well-known phrase proposing secular democracy as an ideal is Jefferson's "wall of separation between church and state" [paraphrased]. Secularisation is the process of things becoming more secular. Most of the Western world has seen this paradigm come to dominate politics and civil life, starting from the time of the Enlightenment. Secularisation Theory is the theory in sociology that as society advances, religion retreats. Intellectual and scientific developments have undermined the spiritual, supernatural, superstitious and paranormal ideas on which
religion relies for its legitimacy. Therefore, religion becomes more and more "hollow", surviving for a while on empty until loss of active membership forces them into obscurity. The evidences and shortcomings of this theory are discussed later in this text. Some take the process of secularisation as a personal affront, and think that mere lack of bias from government implies an active attack. They see any reduction in (their own) public religion to be bad, and apparently they do not understand the causes or reasons behind the secularisation of officialdom. Hopefully this page will address this.
2. Secularisation Theory
Secularisation theory explains that as modern society advances it will become increasingly secular, and religion will become increasingly hollow. Since the rise of science in the 17th Century, sociological commentators have realised that religion may be in a permanent decline, and some have proposed the science and intelligence, both rooted in the Enlightenment, are anathema to religious faith. Karl Marx (1818-1883), Durkheim (1857-1917), Max Weber (1864-1920), the founders of sociology, and William James (lectures from 1901-1902) are four eminent men who all noted this decline. My page Religion in the United Kingdom: Diversity, Trends and Decline page show examples and charts of what this long-term decline looks like, in terms of memberships, attendance and beliefs, etc.
three 'classical' sociological theorists, Marx, Durkheim and Weber [all] thought that the significance of religion would decrease in modern times. Each believed that religion is in a fundamental sense an illusion. The advocates of different faiths may be wholly persuaded of the validity of the beliefs they hold and the rituals in which they participate, yet the very diversity of religions and their obvious connections to different types of society, the three thinkers held, make these claims inherently implausible. "Sociology" by Anthony Giddens (1997)2
is a notion in the air about us that religion is probably only an anachronism, a case of "survival," an atavistic relapse into a mode of thought which humanity in its more enlightened examples has outgrown; and this notion our religious anthropologists at present do little to counteract. This view is so widespread at the present day that I must consider it with some explicitness before I pass to my own conclusions. "The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James (1902)3 Moojan Momen (1999) says there are five ways of looking at secularisation:
1. "Decline of popular involvement in institutionalized religion. This can be seen in the decline in church attendance, with fewer marriages, baptisms and funerals being performed under religious auspices." 2. "The loss of prestige of religious institutions and symbols" and the decline in influence of religious organisations. 3. "The separation of society from the religious world, so that religion becomes purely personal matter." 4. The loss of the idea of the sacred. "As science increases our understanding of humanity and of the world, the area of 'mystery' and the supernatural decrease." 5. "Religious groups themselves become increasingly concerned with the things of this world rather than the spiritual world." Point one is comprehensively illustrated on my page on statistics of religion in Britain. Point five is clearly illustrated by the reaction of modern religionists to secular
advance: fundamentalists are much more engaged in the processes of politics than any other religious group in the West. Momen also notes that in Europe, secularisation came to the fore in the nineteenth century:
has gradually permeated the Christian world. It led to the situation in which, by the nineteenth century, Christianity had ceased to have much real influence on the social and political life of Europe. The form was maintained, in that political leaders usually made a great show attending religious ceremonies and were often personally pious. Religion no longer had a role, however, in the shaping of political and social policy. Other considerations and other secular ideologies had taken over. Following the loss of social and political influence, religion became increasingly irrelevant to the lives of ordinary people also. "The Phenomenon Of Religion" by M. Momen (1999)4 Another sociologist of religion, in his survey of new religious movements, reported similar findings in modern countries and gives a partial explanation as to why this is occurring:
back over the past couple of centuries it would seem to be overwhelmingly evident that religious beliefs, practices and symbols are gradually being abandoned at all levels of modern society. [...] Central to this apparent decline of religion is religious pluralism. Communities in which people shared the same religious beliefs and morality [...] are rapidly disappearing. [...] In modern societies there are few shared values to which one can appeal. believers are constantly aware that their faith is chosen from a spectrum of beliefs on offer. Consequently, beliefs that were once taken for granted as exclusively and absolutely true seem increasingly implausible. "Encyclopedia of New Religions" by Prof. Christopher Partridge (2004)5 "Anti-Religious Forces: Specific Factors Fuelling Secularisation" by Vexen Crabtree (2003) is my comprehensive analysis of the historical and modern forces at work behind secularisation.
2.1. The Dalai Lama Defends Secularism as a Way to Respect All Religion
The Dalai Lama proved himself to have a good understanding of what secularism is when he defended it, in 2006, as a route to respect all religions through its doctrines of noninterference and non-promotion of any particular religions:
“DALAI LAMA SAYS SECULARISM IS THE TRUE ROUTE TO HAPPINESS
The Dalai Lama has come out in defence of secularism. Speaking in Tokyo, the Tibetan spiritual figurehead said: "Secularism does not mean rejection of all religions. It means respect for all religions and human beings including non-believers. I am talking to you not as a Tibetan or a Buddhist but as a human being having a friendly discussion and sharing my experiences on the benefits of cultivating basic human values." In a lecture on "A Good Heart - The key to Health and Happiness" the Dalai Lama emphasises that cultivating secular ethics - which he said has nothing to do with religion benefits all human beings. He said strengthening inner values of warm-heartedness and compassion benefits both believers and non-believers in leading a happy and meaningful life. He said, "Love and compassion attracts, hatred and anger repels. [...] Peace does not mean absence of conflicts. Differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; through humane ways," the Dalai Lama said amidst a thunderous applause. Terry Sanderson, vice president of the National Secular Society, said: "It is not often that we can raise a cheer for a religious leader, but the Dalai Lama is sensible to say that a universal ethic is better than one based on religion. Secularism asks us to keep our religion to ourselves, which enables us as human beings to share what unites us rather than what divides us."
National Secular Society newsletter (2006)6
2.2. S. Bruce Defends Secularisation Theory (1996)
Steve Bruce (1996)7 looks at the major comments made by those who do not believe that increasing secularisation is causing a decline in religious belief. "Despite the fuss made by a few sociologists keen to challenge the secularisation thesis, that consensus is very clear: our medieval past was considerably more religious than our modern present.". He looks at the assertion that although modern Church membership is plummeting
"religious belief" is still just as strong and refutes it by showing the relevant stats, sociology and history. The "trend is clear. Those marks of an enduring interest in religion that persist outside the churches are themselves becoming weaker and more rare. If one wants to call those residues 'implicit religion', then one has to recognize that the implicit is decaying in the same way as the explicit. It is not a compensating alternative" He continues: "Secondly, it should be no surprise that, though there are more avowed atheists than there were twenty years ago, they remain rare. Self-conscious atheism and agnosticism are features of religious cultures and were at their height in the Victorian era. They are postures adopted in a world where people are keenly interested in religion". Some also say that secularisation is limited to highly Protestant countries where individual choices came to be viewed as more important than communal worship. But Brian Wilson points out that although, "it is perhaps no accident that the world's first secular societies as generally recognized, should be societies in the Christian Protestant tradition, but it is increasingly clear that in societies outside that tradition, of which perhaps Japan is the outstanding example [...] similar processes of secularization are in progress."8.
3. Religion in Europe
For more in depth statistics see: "Religion In Europe: Secularisation, Tolerance and Freedom" by Vexen Crabtree (2008) Europe has seen the convergence of two trends. The first is the same trend towards secularisation as seen in all democratic countries. The second is a drop in overall religious beliefs, especially those associated with traditional organized religions. More statistics are available from my page, briefly quoted from here:
average throughout the 27 EU countries, only half of its people believe in God. There is much variation from country to country. Only 16% of the populace of Estonia belief in God, but 95% do in Malta. Scandinavian countries are highly atheist. Two main social groups are particularly prone to belief in God; those over 55 years old and those whose education did not proceed beyond the 15-year-old stage. [...]
Life without religion has become the norm for most Europeans. About 30% of the population state that they don't believe in God, but still put down an theistic religion on paper. This is a common trend amongst secularising peoples, as people forget what religion is about. "The European Union: Democratic Values, The Euro, Crises and Migration" by Vexen Crabtree (2007)
4. The Defiers of Secularisation
The world is not secularising evenly. Some of the exceptions (even in the developed world) are so pronounced that some question the entire Secularisation Theory. It is these critics that Steve Bruce had responded to above, pointing to Japan as an example of a non-Christian country that has also secularized extensively.
USA still has a very high religiosity rate, as high as third-world countries, and is, with the possible exception of Scandinavia the most advanced country in the world. So this is a serious exception that needs explaining. Most explanation have concentrated on the high level of immigration, something which tends to harden people's religions. The developing world is highly religious; there are countries and cultures that can hardly imagine what life without religion is like. Critics imagine that these countries will not lose their religious beliefs as they develop higher rates of education and technological development. Sections of society within secular countries remain highly religious. The middle-ground believers are now swayed into areligiosity by the same inertia that used to lead them into religion. Now these are largely gone, what is left behind are the hardcore believers, who are both more vocal, more educated and more activist about their beliefs. These fanatical groups show no signs of dissipation. A report in The Economist (2007) reads: "It is the tougher versions of religion that are doing best - the sort that claim Adam and Eve met 6,003 years ago. Some of the new converts are from the ranks of the underprivileged (Pentecostalism has spread rapidly in the fevelas of Brazil), but many are not. American evangelicals tend to be well-educated and well-off"9. "Formerly communist countries are also getting hooked again on the opium of the people. Russia's secret police, the KGB, hounded religion: its successor, the FSB, has its own Orthodox church opposite its
headquarters"9. Communism was once a heavy factor in the de-religionizing of large areas of the world. There are plenty of civil religions that perform fine in a secularized world; the more domineering and totalitarian ones (such as those that largely describe the defiers above) are the ones that resist secularisation most loudly and effectively. Unfortunately, most activist secular groups tend to be centered around atheism and humanism, which creates a skewed battlefield where it appears that secularists oppose religion in general, when this isn't necessarily the case (the Dalai Lama (see above) is a case in point). Hopefully, secularisation can be seen as the only way to guarantee religious freedom in a world where competing religions would otherwise lay claim to the State's education systems, etc
Not that people do not believe in god but their decision making process are more rational
Mixed Marriages [Part 1]
Stalking an Unspoken Taboo Text:
In rural India, it's still taboo. Outside India, everyone is getting used to it. Visionaries laud it as the making of a multi-ethnic, golden race that will bring peace to the planet. Some of your closest friends have done it and everybody gossips about it-mixed marriages. By all estimates, it will only increase. Slowly, awkwardly, Hindu society is facing it and finding it's a lot healthier to talk about it and positively adjust to it when it happens, rather than hide it, fight it or ignore it. This begins our three-part series. By Shikha Malaviya, Maryland, USA They were discussing the recent marriage of her cousin Rahul to a black woman. She recalls her father's words quiet clearly. "Can you imagine! Rahul, a strict Hindu, marrying an African woman? Their lifestyle is so different. Imagine the children-Indian names, but they'll look black and be treated like blacks." Neha was appalled her parents were talking like this. How would they react if they knew about Mohsin, her Muslim boyfriend! Neha Pancholi, a 23-year-old girl from Ann Arbor, Michigan, experienced what many Hindu youth are facing in America. It's an issue of mixed emotions, mixed philosophies and mixed cultures. Should a Hindu date a Muslim? Should Christians and Hindus marry? What religion would a child be if the parents were Hindu and Jewish respectively? We all like to think of ourselves as liberal people and dismiss the issue of interreligious marriage by saying, "If they love each other, that's all that matters. As long as they are happy, we are happy." However, deep down inside, do we really feel that way? How does one truly feel about inter-religious relationships and marriages? Does "love make the world go 'round," or does religion, tradition and society? Neha is not her real name. The computer science student at the University of Michigan, agreed to share her story with Hinduism Today on the basis of anonymity. Neha met Mohsin Ali at a party which her elder brother held four years ago. She was a freshman in college. "I was always very friendly and had no reservations about race or religion. When I met Mohsin, I regarded him only as my brother's friend," says Neha. But a week after the party, Mohsin met Neha for lunch at school and asked her to be his girlfriend. Neha said yes. "He was energetic, smart and intelligent, whereas I was more quiet and simple." Neha and Mohsin's relationship deepened. Eventually Neha told her elder brother who replied, "It's your life and your choice to make. But if our parents find out, don't count me in." Neha was shocked to hear her brother's words. "This was my own flesh and blood going against me." Within one year, Neha stopped socializing with other people because it made Mohsin jealous. She recalls, "I never cared that Mohsin was a Muslim until it started interfering with who I was. He proposed to me and I wanted to say yes, but he wanted me to convert to Islam. Our kids would have to be Muslim. I would have to live in Pakistan. I would have to wear a veil, etc." Mohsin didn't want Neha to pursue graduate school or act in theatrical productions. Neha was shattered. Things got worse when rumors spread. "We walked separately at school so that no one would notice us," says Neha. "Still, I would get stares from Hindu people I didn't even know. It got to the point that I was too scared to step out of the house. I became an introvert. My grades dropped. I lost fifteen pounds." Neha finally broke off with Mohsin six months ago and decided to marry a Hindu. She sighs, relieved, and says, "after what I've been through, I know that religion matters.
Mohsin was the way he was because of his upbringing. His mother wears a veil. My mother does not. That's only the beginning." To girls her age she suggests: "Think before you leap into an inter religious relationship. Don't do it if you can't be honest to those around you and to yourself." Challenges, Successes and Criticisms Is Neha's experience the rule or the exception? Do religious differences necessarily create barriers or problems? Mrs. Ellaru, from Houston, Texas, is the proud mother-inlaw of a white Christian girl. Her son Raghu married Christina after they met at a hospital in Indianapolis where Raghu was training. Says Mrs. Ellaru, "I didn't have any opposition to my son marrying an American girl. My children have been raised in this country, so I don't expect them to marry a Hindu." Asked if there was any opposition from the Hindu community, Mrs. Ellaru replied, "No one said anything to me. Interreligious marriages are quite common now." Happily married for four years, Raghu and Christina have successfully integrated Hindu and American culture. They have two sons, Andrew and Austin, who are being brought up with a blend of Hindu and Christian principles. When the boys were baptized, Raghu asked his parents if it was okay. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ellaru agreed: "We are happy with whatever they choose to do." Mrs. Ellaru loves Christina like her own daughter, and is happy that Christina respects and understands Hindu culture. Whenever she comes to visit us," says Mrs. Ellaru, " Christina wears her wedding chain. She visits the temple with us with the children. She also wears a sari on many occasions. She likes to do these things on her own, and we appreciate it." But Vignaraj, a Hindu of Silver Spring, Maryland, feels that children bear the heaviest burden of mixed marriages. He says, "I believe your faith is your way of life. If your life partner shares the same faith, you share a common philosophy in which you can bring up your children. I have many friends that had mixed marriages which broke after ten or twelve years. Their children didn't know who or what they were. Besides material wealth and education, what else do we have to give children but religion." Rajesh and Sarita Kale, a couple from Falls Church, Virginia, whole-heartedly support interreligious marriage. Sarita's mother is a Christian from England and her father is a Hindu. Sarita told Hinduism Today, "I base interreligious marriage on the strength of the person. If society says no, but the couple is confident of what they want in life, then by all means they should get married. But if they aren't sure of themselves, they shouldn't get married." Rajesh and Sarita have an eight- year-old son, Shiv Dutt. "I want my son to respect all religions," says Rajesh. "I don't want Shiv to be religious, I want him to be spiritual. To me, there is a big difference." Sarita's parents met in England where her father was stationed with the Royal Indian Army. Later they moved to India, where Sarita grew up. "I never felt different from any other family," says Sarita. "People who say that children get affected by interreligious marriages are wrong! My upbringing has only strengthened my understanding and respect of religion." According to Rajesh, the concept of religion has become too rigid, placing barriers on people. He says, "We should judge people for their character, not their religion." More Open Talk, Less Phobia Please How concerned are parents about their sons and daughters finding interreligious partners? "They are very concerned," emphatically shares Bina Parekh (left), of Sahara, a hot/line counseling center in California serving the Indian community. "We hold forums for both parents and teenagers about dating, etc.," says Bina, head of Sahara's Youth Chapter. Sahara gets a lot of calls from parents, worried about their children dating people of different races and religions. "Teenagers don't call us that often about this
subject," Bina says, "because they have their friends they can talk to. Parents are very reluctant to talk with anyone." Veena Ramachandran is a student at Catholic University, Washington DC. She feels that interracial dating and marriage are still quite foreign to her parents' generation. Their marriages were arranged with other Indians and mostly successful, so they cling instinctively to the simple logic: "If it worked for us, it will work for you." Veena adds, "I think this happens in every society-parents worrying about love, race and religion. We shouldn't think that this happens only among the Hindu community." Marriage doesn't come without challenges, even hardships-even when Hindus marryHindus. But in such sensitive areas like relationships and marriage, I feel one does have to consider religion because how you are brought up and what you believe are important. It is vital to talk about culture and religion-no matter what the discussion reveals. Many of us are ignorant about others'cultures which generates more fear than the understanding so needed in this area. Dear Indian Parents Meeta Gajjar married Frank Parker of Delaware, USA, last year. Meeta, an Indian Hindu, is an accomplished recording artist. At age 16, she sang for Rajiv Gandhi when he visited the US. She is the daughter of Bharat Gajjar, an orthodox Hindu pundit who has run the Sivananda Center in Wilmington for 30 years. Frank, white Caucasian, is a musician and by birth a Christian. Below, they both offer personal thoughts on marriage. MEETA: Over the years, I've had many conversations with friends about Indian girls who wouldn't socialize with other Indian girls because they wanted American girlfriends. And if they had an American boyfriend, they would really snub us. They wanted to feel like they belonged, be "American," tired of feeling left out at school and American social life. I also felt different all my life-because I am too Indian to be American and too American to be Indian. I was born in the US but speak fluent Gujarati and was brought up with a very strong traditional Hindu upbringing, am a devotee of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and worship Shiva Nataraja in the Kashmiri Shaivite tradition. My advice to parents is: bring your children up with the concept that America and Americans are alright. Let them belong to the country they are growing up in and don't exclude them from school and social functions that their friends are going to, but also keep them involved in Indian functions and social groups, too. Let them know that we are special because we are different and that America loves culture and ours is one to be preserved. Indian parents need to more vigilantly keep the communication line open between themselves and their teens and allow them to feel safe talking about what's going on in their lives, including confusions. I feel the main reason that American men are interested in Indian girls is because we are dharmic, duty-conscious, and traditionally serving, loving and gentle-the perfect mothers. The traditional Indian girl reminds American men of the kind of woman their mother or grandmother may have been when America had more of the "old country" values, i.e. family-conscious and faithful wives. Many Indian girls don't want to marry Indian men because they are afraid they will control their lives, make them slaves and not appreciate anything they do for them. This is not so much the case among male Indian youths growing up here, but the girls see some of their parents' friends experiencing this and think they may be able to escape the
feeling of not being treated as an equal by marrying an American who will value their Indianness as a precious thing and appreciate their gentle loving natures. I married an American, a wonderful person, Frank. He is very Indian in his heart. I feel I got lucky seeing that he actually is able to appreciate my traditional Hindu background and Indian customs and doesn't try to change me. We had both a Hindu and Christian wedding, and he agreed before marriage to allow me to raise our children Hindu. I've dated Indian men too, but in my line of work as a recording artist I needed a man who would let me be me, and that is what I have. The bottom line is: if your daughter is growing up in this country she has at least a 50% chance of meeting and then marrying an American-unless more opportunities are made to meet Indian boys at the temple or Indian social functions. Indian girls raised here are not likely to marry partners their parents choose for them because of the freedom in this country. Yet, I would rather have not married than have done so without my father's blessings. But also, I would not have married rather than marry someone I did not love. That's how most Indian girls raised here feel. But also, there's nothing wrong with your children marrying Americans if you've raised them with your values and culture. They will surprise you. Have some faith. Stay by them in their struggle to adapt and make sure they know who they are before they go out into the world on their own. Give them their language, a personal God and a sacred prayer. Teach them how to use it. I know I couldn't get through one single day without my precious Lord Shiva. Frank: Since marrying Meeta, one of the most wonderful aspects of Indian culture I am enjoying is how important the family is and raising children properly with good educations, etc. I don't believe in divorce. Though I am Christian, I am not church-going. When I was a teenager, I got turned off by a Catholic priest telling us to live in fear of the Lord. I was at that time praying to God everyday and felt God was my friend, not someone to fear. Religiously, I am a spiritual person, very open and actually, I'm learning a lot about Hinduism from Meeta's father, whom I am very close to. Meeta and I love each other very much. We have absolutely no religious conflict. She wants to raise our children as Hindus and give them Indian culture and that's fine with me. Open Mind It is helpful to keep in mind no Hindu who married a non-Indian or non-Hindu ever felt they did anything wrong,never felt handicapped, nor thought they compromised their children's happiness, nor feel they warranted society's censure and, always wonder, "What's the big deal, anyway?" The "big deal," to state the obvious, is that orthodox Hindu society treasures its beliefs and customs-including language and little things like food, dress, music and even casteoriented idiosyncrasies-and views mixed-marriage as a diluting influence. Importantly, as more Hindu parents face the possibility of their children marrying nonHindus, some lessons are emerging. First, the need to view each situation individually. Crude generalizing is perhaps the new taboo, not intermarrying per se. A second lesson, coming more slowly, is accepting some karmic responsiblity for the "mix" in the first place-appreciating the frustration of the Texan Hindu teen who said: "If our parents are always going to get mad about us dating and marrying non-Indians, no matter who they are, why didn't they stay in India and have their babies there!" The third lesson, a nice surprise, is that many non-Hindus really like Hinduism and are happy to adopt it. In-laws can be very helpful in this soulful process.
One hundred-five never married undergraduate university students completed an anonymous 18-item questionnaire designed to assess their attitudes toward interreligious marriage. Among other findings, the data revealed only one in five respondents required that their future spouse be of the same religion; females were more likely than males to have this requirement, and females felt more pressure than males from their parents to marry a person of the same religious faith. Baptists were particularly in favor of homogamous religious marriage. Implications for university faculty and students are suggested. Religious homogamy, the tendency to select someone with similar religious values, is part of the public image of Presidents. Frequently, we see news footage of the President and first lady attending church in Washington, D.C.-the same church. Never do we see video of husband and wife attending separate churches. Eleven studies (Kalmijn, 1991) have documented the existence of religious endogamy (marriage within one's own religious group) in the United States. Religion, in general, continues to be a factor in the lives of most college students. More than 80 percent (82.6) of all first year college students in the United States report that they have attended a religious service in the last year. Only 15 percent report no current religious preference (American Council on Education and University of California, 2000). This study examined data from a sample of undergraduate students in regard to their attitude toward interreligious marriage. We were particularly interested in assessing the degree to which religious homogamy is operative among today's college students. Data The data consisted of 105 never married undergraduates enrolled in courtship and marriage courses at a large southeastern university who voluntarily completed an anonymous 18-item questionnaire designed to assess their attitudes toward interreligiousmarriage. Among the respondents, 61% were women; 39% were men. The median age was 19 with a range of 1853. Respondents were predominately white (88%) with 12% reporting that they were nonwhite. The largest religious identifications were Baptist (39%), Catholic(19%), and Methodist (14%). Findings Analysis of the data revealed several significant findings. 1. Limited requirement for marital religious homogamy. Only one in five (22%) respondents agreed that, "I will only marry someone of the same religious background." Kalmijn (1991) noted an increased incidence of interreligious marriage since the 1920s and attributed the increase to the decline in salience of religious boundaries. Another explanation for the demise of religious endogamy (people of the same religion married to each other) includes an increased opportunity for college students to meet persons from a wide range of religious backgrounds. Wilson (1966) also emphasized that increased secularization has resulted in religious practices and beliefs becoming less important in the governing of people's lives. While a willingness to cross religious lines to marry is increasing, a similar willingness to cross racial lines to marry is not occurring (Qian, 1999).
2. Females' stronger preference for marital religious homogamy. Females were significantly (p < .05) more likely than males (27% versus. 15%) to agree that they would only marry someone of the same religion. Previous research (Knox et al. 1997) has found that women, when compared to men, evidence a stronger interest in their potential mates having similar characteristics- being homogamous. 3. Parents perceived as being more disapproving of female's interreligious marriage. Females were significantly (p < .05) more likely than males (20% versus. 15%) to perceive that their parents would disapprove if they were to date someone of a different religious faith. Female offspring, when compared to male offspring, have traditionally been subjected to higher parental expectations from parents- that their daughter marry someone of the same religion may be an extension of this pattern. 4. Baptists more homogamous. Baptists were significantly more likely (p < .05) than Methodists or Catholics to report that they had dated someone of the same religious faith. Similarly, Baptists were significantly (p < .05) more likely to believe that couples who marry someone of a different religion will get divorced. Both of these findings reflect the ultra conservative Baptist faith, which may socialize its members to only feel comfortable with a partner/spouse who shares their religion. Discussion The findings of this study reflected that only 1 in 5 of the respondents, with women more than men, required that their future marriage partner be of the same religion. Previous research on outcomes of spouses who married someone of a different religion is mixed. While some studies on interreligious marriages report enhanced mutual understanding as a result of the perceived need to negotiate religious differences (Heller and Wood, 2000), other studies report greater marital instability (Chiswick and Lehrer, 1991) and strain/sacrifice (Graham et al, 1985). Kalmijn (1991) emphasized that religious homogeny is decreasing and that educational monogamy is increasing. Due to increased secularization, urbanization, and industrialization of U.S. society, this trend will likely continue. While religion is a source of social identity for many people, it less often represents a source of core identity. However, those for whom religion does provide a core identity (e.g., Baptists) may require that their future spouse have the same religious background. Indeed, the Baptists of our sample were more likely than Catholics or Methodists to insist on religious homogamy. Implications The findings of this study have implications for university faculty and students. Faculty members who teach sociology of the family may alert their students that religion is a crucial factor in selecting a mate today for only 1 in 5 of respondents, with women having a greater preference than men. Similarly, students may be aware that outcome studies of interreligious marriages are not consistent. However, if they were reared in a very conservative home, they may feel inclined to insist on marrying someone of the same faith and that doing so may be functional for them.
Before a Muslim man steps into an inter-faith marriage, there are numerous issues that he must understand himself and discuss with his non-Muslim wife-to-be. Some issues are: COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER FOR AN INTER-FAITH MARRIAGE: Here I will discuss the issues considering social and practical implications that can generally affect an inter-faith marriage. These issues will include religious compatibility, relationships with non-M\ uslim relatives, friendships circle, religious celebrations, food, social gatherings, acceptable dress code, cultural awareness and religious tolerance, charity, volunteer activities. Before a Muslim man steps into an inter-faith marriage, there are numerous issues that he must understand himself and discuss with his non-Muslim wife-to-be. RELIGIOUS COMPATIBILITY: Given the western environment so resentful and inconsiderate toward Islam, its always better to have peace in the "home." The family life will be much worry-free and harmonious if both spouses belong to the same religion and agree on same theology esp. if cultural differences also exist. Islam allows marriage to a Christian or Jew woman, but only under certain conditions. As described earlier in the first portion, the inter-faith marriages are permissible only in an Islamic society. It is always better to introduce the woman to Islam and encourage her to become Muslima BEFORE marrying her. It will allow the woman to realize if she can take Islam as her religion and raise kids as Muslims; or if she has any innate notions against Islam or unwillingness to follow Islamic way of life. Most probably it will become self-evident to the man that what type family life can he expect from her as a wife. RELATIVES FRIENDS AND THEIR INFLUENCE: Certain situations when dealing with non-Muslim relatives and friends may occur and can lead to unanticipated misunderstandings. Non-halaal Items: A non-Muslim woman is not bounded by Islamic values regarding dressing up, mixed parties, eating non-halaal foods and consuming alcohol. She MAY avoid all such items voluntarily to make family life pleasant or as a goodwill gesture to please her Muslim husband, if he doesn't like them. Otherwise, she is under no obligation to avoid what is allowed to her by her religion.
By getting married to a non-Muslim woman, the husband should realize that he has already agreed to her being a non-Muslima and should not expect a woman to behave like Muslima if she is not one. A Muslim should expect that the family will be invited to certain parties and dinner where all non-halaal items may be served. He may want to shun away from enjoying all the non-Islamic items, but the non-Muslim wife may want to consume them. Personally I don't like participating in meals where Non-Muslim relatives and family friends offer prayers in the names other than Allah at their dinner tables and show no consideration for other people. It will be difficult to make kids not to eat certain nonhalaal items while the non-Muslim mother enjoys them. Again, it is upon the woman's discretion to avoid all or some of the non-permissible items in Islam. NON-MUSLIM CELEBRATIONS : Often the problems with non-Muslim relatives arise with the birth of a baby. Most christian grand-parents attempt to test the waters by giving the new-borns baptism or celebrate other religious ceremonies. In that event, unless the non-Muslim wife makes sure her side of family understands her husband's reservations about such celebrations, the situation may get tense at such a joyful occasion and may leave bitter memories. Grandparents and other relatives may also want to celebrate (religiously) Christmas and, above all, Good Friday- a true christian holiday commemorating the Friday of so-called Jesus's death on the cross and his rising from the dead on Sunday. Non-Muslims friends will also invite the family on their religious events and the nonMuslim wife may want to participate and take the kids with her to such celebrations and festivities. At such instances, it may be difficult to participate in their ceremonies and esp. in telling the kids what not eat and whom not to pray to. FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE: The family has friends from both faiths and it will be unfair that you have only Muslims friends. But sometimes certain outside non-Muslim influences in the marriage and esp. on the kids are to be avoided. ACCEPTABLE DRESS: Islam prescribes the dress codes for man and woman. Not many Muslim men and women, either living in secular Muslim countries or the West, today follow the dress code perfectly. However, most Muslim women still do not go around normally in sleveless shirts, shorts or bikinis. If the Muslim man is trying to follow his religion then he will obviously prefer his wife and kids to be dressed properly. If the wife is non-Muslim then she is under no obligation to follow a strict Islamic dress code. But she may choose to dress up in proper manner again to please her husband, not to offend him and to guard her beauty from other men. But, then again, it will be her choice which may fluctuate with her relationship with the Muslim husband.
CULTURAL VALUES : There are certain western customs that may not be acceptable for a Muslim husband. Mixed parties usually include dancing and drinking. Hugging and kissing cheeks of male and female friends is another practise which is not permissible in many Islam. The Muslim husband may have to clarify these issues with his non-Muslim wife. RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE IN THE FAMILY : If a Muslim man marries a non-Muslima, either practising Jewess or Christian (a sharaii requirement), then she probably will continue to practise her religion after the marriage. If she does, then she will demand the liberty to attend, contribute, volunteer and work for her religion. Since, the advent of Islam in the West has caused tumult in the western religious institutions, esp. the churches and christian seminaries, their efforts are now focusing on esp. proseltyzing Muslims more than ever before. The church-going women are more prone to fall to the propaganda against Islam by the missionaries prepared specifically to "reach out" to Muslims. The ongoing propaganda at churches depicts Muslims "persecuting" christian minorities in Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Nigeria and other Muslim countries. The religious differences, augmented under this environment, may damage the peaceful life at home. The non-Muslim wife may want to volunteer and contribute financially to her religious institution and its activities- 10% of the income is to be given as "tithe" donations to the churches. It is usually disturbing too see your money support the exact religious institutions whose major goals now include defaming and sabotaging the religion of Islam and converting Muslims using monetary resources in poor countries. RAISING MUSLIM KIDS : The foremost thing to understand here is that most of us who were raised in Islamic environment, even if it may have been a secular govt. such as in Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia, etc. The environment and society was mostly responsible for our learning and understanding of Islam. Right from the beginning, we learned Islam in bits and pieces at home, school, through radio, TV and even through our praticipation is Islamic students/political parties. In combine families, the grandparents and relatives helped our parents teach Islamic values to the kids. In the West, it is a totally different environment. In most cases, the parents are probably the only "bridge" between Islam and their kids. If only the husband is a Muslim, then that bridge is even narrower. If the father himself is not very knowledgeable in Islam and doesn't participate in or mingle with Muslim (not social) community and activities in the West, then the kids will grow up virtually ignorant to Islam. In general, to them, Islam is a foreign religion. A man usually doesn't have much time to spend with the kids and if the wife is nonMuslim too, then there is not much kids can learn about Islam even at home. Dressing them up in cultural/international clothes, feeding them cultural food and taking them
to Masjid once or twice a year doesn't teach them any Islamic values or religion at all. If we assume the kids will learn Islam values LATER, the question arises: From WHO? If the kids have a non-Muslim mother and she doesn't respect Islamic dress code and eating habits, ie. she wears shorts, skirts, bikinis and eats non-halaal meats or drinks, then how in the world can we expect that our kids will not do the same. How diificult it will be for the husband to teach the kids to avoid these "NOT-OK" things while they're okay for their respected mother. Will he be telling them that their mother doesn't have "good" moral values? In an inter-faith marriage, where both parents practise their respective religions, often kids are grown to be confused in religious matters. They have sympathies to both religions. But due to opposing views, they are usually unable to "make up" their mind. Most do not want to reject either religions. If Kids are drawn by mother and father to their respective worship places and to participate in their religious activies. What would a Muslim husband tell his kids if they want to go to church on Sundays with their Mom. Similarly, what will a nonMuslim mother say to her kids, if they go to Masjid on Fridays and on Sundays for taa'leem. The clildren need a single religion preached and taught to them. Marriage is a critical decision in not only our life, but for our kids and their and our hereafter. Let's be real careful about it. And those who pray, "Out Lord! grant unto us wives and offsprings who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous." [Surah 25:74]
Generally, members of religious minorities are increasingly likely to marry out of their religious traditions as the unavailability of same-faith prospective partners combines with sociopsychological pressures toward becoming part of the majority. For example, a US Catholic Study of Catholics in the United States (Official Catholic Directory 1997) found that although only 18 percent of Roman Catholics married non-Catholics in dioceses with greater than 50 percent Catholic populations, the rate of intermarriage by Catholics rose to 51 percent in dioceses with less than 10 percent Catholic populations. This phenomenon might also reflect the possibility that those who live in areas with low numbers of individuals who share their religious faith already identify less strongly with their religious faith and so more likely to intermarry. In the early 1970s, about 7 percent of married American Jews had unconverted nonJewish spouses; by 1990 this figure had risen to 28 percent, while the figure for all marriages involving American Jews between 1985 and 1990 was as high as 52 percent. This exponential growth rate has been attributed to several factors, such as: the disappearance of social and economic barriers against Jews, the later age of marriage (in which presumably couples are less influenced by childhood training and
parental guidance), the geographic shift from areas of high Jewish concentration, the increased presence of women in the labor force with accompanying opportunities for out-group contact, and the increased incidence of divorce and remarriage ( Jewish Outreach Institute 2001). However, the 52 percent figure should be dissected to make it clear that Jews who marry out tend to be older than those who marry in. For many of these older couples, the interfaith marriage is a second or later marriage, in which children are not expected or where there are preexisting children whose religious identities have already begun to be formed. As of 2001 about 40 percent of children of American Jews married to non-Jews were being raised with no clear religious identity, that is, not as formal members of a religious institution. Interfaith marriages are of particular concern to Jewish communities because of the great losses incurred through the Shoah (Holocaust) and other persecution, and, ironically, because of attrition resulting from greater freedom and toleration in pluralistic societies. India has a state policy of freedom of worship, not favoring any particular denomination. However, by 2000, tensions between Hindus and both Muslims and Christians had risen to a point of creating some alarm in proponents of maintaining the secular state (U. S. Department of State 2000). Within the context of official religious pluralism, furthermore, are practical obstacles to the interfaith couple. In India, Muslim law controls Muslim marriage, and provisions for divorce and polyandry/polygamy are applied with vastly different consequences for men and for women in Muslim marriages. There is a similar gender-based inequity in Indian laws regarding divorce among Christians. In 1994 in Bombay, 10 percent of weddings conducted in Catholic churches involved a non-Catholic partner (Association of Interchurch Families 2000). The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, made no mention of intermarriage. However, the Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act passed in 2001, mandates that no marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian may be conducted in a church (U. S. Department of State 2001). In 1999, there were more than 150,000 inter-cultural couples in Malaysia (Melwani 1999). These are not strictly interfaith, since by Malaysian law, a non-Muslim spouse must convert to Islam. However, the Malaysian Hindu community sees this phenomenon as a direct loss. The Malaysian intermarriage situation is further complicated by the government's fear that intermarriage will lead to an influx of foreign workers demanding citizenship by right of marriage. Therefore, the government in 1997 enacted a ruling restricting such marriages by limiting opportunity and benefits available to inter-faith couples, for example, by denying the foreign spouse an extended stay, a permanent residence visa, or citizenship (Ragataf 2000). The population of Israel in 1996 comprised 4.6 million Jews, 840,000 Muslims, 180,000 Christians, and 100,000 Druze (plus 80,000 people who fell into the "Other" category) (Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics 1996). Interreligious marriage of all sorts is illegal in Israel, partly because of the disproportionate political power wielded by the Jewish Orthodox minority and partly because of the historic spheres of influence of the other religious faiths, which tend to cling to their own separatist and exclusivist policies. However, Israeli law recognizes marriages contracted in other countries. Because Israeli couples wishing to intermarry often do so abroad,
and because a number of interfaith couples who married elsewhere have immigrated to Israel (for example, from the former Soviet Union), inter-married couples are by no means unknown there. The political friction between Palestinians and Israelis, and between Muslims and Jews within Israel, makes marriages particularly problematic; however, they do exist. As for Christian/Jewish marriage in Israel, it has reached sufficient proportions that at least one networking group for such couples was operating in 2002 (Rosenbaum 2002).
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