February 11, 2012
Sitting at the Christmas dinner table with her eyes closed and head bowed, Alexis Gewertz felt out of place for the first time. Although she had never avoided talking or learning about Jesus as a Jewish woman, the religiosity of the pre-meal grace at her boyfriend's family's Rhode Island home in December 2009 raised some cultural red flags.
Dr. Patrick C. Hughes of Texas Tech University has been studying interreligious marriages for more than 10 years and echoes this sentiment. Hughes, an associate vice provost and professor of communications, points out that a person's religious orientation is more important in a relationship than the religion itself. His research shows people who are intrinsically oriented — more philosophically and spiritually tied to their religion — end up having more satisfaction in an interfaith relationship as opposed to those who are extrinsically oriented. This is because those extrinsically oriented use faith as means to an interpersonal end, by attending more worship services and being more involved in religious outreach.