Major religious trends and dynamics have seldom enjoyed greater attention than they do today. This is primarily because the news (the rise of the "nones," the flight of young people from our churches) often seems so bad.
Very often, when you dig deeper into the relevant research on such high-profile subjects, you discover that the underlying reality doesn't justify the hype. But there is an important faith trend that deserves attention and gets very little: interfaith marriage. With 'Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America, Naomi Schaefer Riley has written a noteworthy book on this growing choice, based primarily on data she mined from her Interfaith Marriage Study. Examining nearly 2,500 married couples, it is likely the most expansive research to date on the practices, attitudes, and concerns of couples who marry from different faiths. One of the sure consequences of a growing secularization of society is the growth of couples willing to marry despite differences in religious identification, if not practice and conviction.
Interfaith marriage is becoming more common than decades past. Riley's research shows that about 42 percent of marriages today are interfaith, while in 1960, only twenty percent were. (Regarding cross-Christian marriages, she includes mainline Protestants marrying those identifying as evangelicals as interfaith, but not mainlines marrying different mainlines or, for example, Assemblies of God evangelicals marrying evangelical Baptists.) American Grace—the comprehensive study of American religion authored by scholars Robert Putnam and David E. Campbell—adds a tighter focus to Riley's numbers. Putnam and Campbell estimate that nearly ...1