Monday, December 14, 2015

The Taboo of Interfaith Marriage

 Interfaith marriage occurs when partners who identify with different religious groups marry. Although this seems like a common occurrence today, it was highly frowned upon in the early-mid 1900s. Many religions rejected the validity of these marriages back then, such as Jews and Catholics. Jewish rabbis would often refuse to marry interfaith couples unless the non-Jewish spouse converted and raised their children Jewish. This made it really difficult for couples of different religions to find someone to marry them. Catholics had similar close minded beliefs during this time period. This is largely due to the bible mentioning that these types of marriages shouldn't be permitted, causing priests to refuse to marry interfaith couples.

In addition to the churches forbidding interfaith marriage, families often did as well. Some went as far as disowning their child for being in an interracial marriage as it was considered a blasphemous taboo. This was due to clashing religious beliefs and the question of what religion their children were going to be. Jews who participated in interfaith marriage “in the 1950’s often faced strong sanction from their families”( A combination of religious reasons and disapproval from family caused interracial marriage to be strictly taboo.

My great great grandparents, Nellie and Carl, entered into an interfaith marriage in 1939. Nellie was a Catholic immigrant from Sicily and Carl was Jewish entrepreneur. They desperately wanted to marry but feared the religious stigma surrounding interfaith marriages. In order to avoid any unwarranted religious backlash they decided to elope in Iowa. It took them a long time to find someone to marry them but they eventually found someone in Iowa, so they traveled there from Rockford, IL. They didn't tell anyone about their marriage until years later, when it was more acceptable. Eventually they had two kids, and raised them Jewish. 

Their marriage exemplifies social non-conformity because they did the opposite of society's expectations. They did not conform to the social pressures to marry someone from their own religion and went against the standard behaviors of the time. Not only was this a brave and admirable act of love, it was an undeniable act of nonconformity. When people decide to push against the current of modern belief is when true progress is made. Those who conform become faceless statistics, those who challenge conformity change the world

Nellie and Carl in the early 2000's

Read about current views on interfaith marriage:

1 comment:

  1. Giulia, Love the pictures here! This is a good post with a nice personal touch. Your grandparents sound like incredibly strong people, choosing love over convention. The chart signals a slow but steady wave of people making the same choice.