Interfaith Tolerance Through Romance (Text)


How romance is encouraging good relations among religions

By Intisar Seraaj

Her relationship has given her the freedom to be herself, vices and all. She’s the occasional drinker and smoker, and doesn’t wear a hijab. Instead she sports her natural black hair, often pulled back in a frazzled ponytail. She’s Razzan Nakhlawi, a liberal, British Muslim who’s been dating an American agnostic man for almost two years.

Reflecting on her inter-religious romance, taboo among more-orthodox Muslims, Nakhlawi sees inter-religious relationships as a way to cultivate a religiously-tolerant society.

The “U.S. Religious Landscape Study,” conducted by the Pew Research Center between June and September 2014, found that interfaith marriage in America has increased by almost 40 percent since 2010. Only 20 percent of Americans were wed to people practicing other religions before 1960.

Rev. Jim Burklo, who has been the associate dean of religious life at the University of Southern California for eight years, said American society is becoming increasingly religiously diverse and tolerant. He cited the book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” by Robert Putnam and David Campbell, which is based on two comprehensive surveys about religion and public life in America.

Additional Pew data found that one-fifth of adults in the United States were raised with a mixed religious background. These findings suggest America’s increasing religious tolerance has a connection to interfaith unions and families.

A prime example is Nakhlawi’s relationship with her boyfriend, Cameron Henja.


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