Is it acceptable to reject someone because of religious differences?+comment
A friend of mine recently met a guy at a wedding. Both she and the guy had come alone and by the time dinner was served they had basically become each other’s date; they danced and drank through the rest of the reception and by the cutting of the cake she thought that she might really liked this guy.
By end of the night their hanging out would have turned into making out, had my friend not decided that snogging in front of her friend’s entire family could possibly be considered super tacky. My friend and the guy were one of the last ‘couples’ to leave the wedding and after walking my friend to the car, the guy asked for my friend’s phone number, which she happily gave.
A few days passed and my friend was really surprised not to have heard from the guy. They’d had a great time together, laughing and dancing all night. She thought they’d had great chemistry, and almost certain he’d felt it too. Another couple of days passed without a call from him. Finally, she called the bride to see if she knew the deal. It turned out the bride had sort of been expecting my friend’s call. The reason that he hadn’t called, the bride explained, is because the guy in question only dates Jewish girls and my friend is not Jewish.
My friend was, understandably, disappointed, but she was also confused. Not once during the entire evening had religion been discussed, so it was surprising to find out that religion was so important to him that Jewishness or her lack thereof was a deal-breaker for him. If he knew that he would never date her, my friend wondered, why had he bothered to ask for her number? She was, being completely honest, more than disappointed… she was also a little annoyed. More than a little annoyed. She felt like she was being unfairly rejected, maybe even a little discriminated against. After all, in Sex and The City, Charlotte’s character at least got to date Harry for a bit and thus had the option of conversion. My friend didn’t even get a phone call.
Today’s world is becoming increasingly secular, and more and more couples of different faiths are marrying each other. I know a number of awesome couples that have to negotiate how to raise children in multi-faith households, and for the most part there aren’t big problems. The grandparents aren’t always thrilled, but what kid wouldn’t want to celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas? But for some, the fact that religion is on the decline in our culture is a good reason to make sure to marry someone within one’s own religion; it feels a necessary part of maintaining and strengthening one’s faith. There are some communities, some families, where marrying outside one’s faith, race, culture or even neighborhood, is enough to cause you to be kicked out of the fold forever.
As a nontheist I have a really hard time understanding this; not dating someone because of their religion (or lack of religion) seems harsh, a bit prejudice-y and thus kind of not okay to me. But then again, neither me nor my guy are religious and though I would like to think we would still be together if I was a devout Christian, the reality is that my guy, being a fundamentalist atheist, probably wouldn’t have been able to deal with it. All admit, I once stopped dating a Mormon guy, but it wasn’t so much because of his religious beliefs as it was because, as a devout Mormon, he didn’t believe in premarital sex. Not being the kind of girl who was willing to buy the cow without at least tasting the milk, this was a deal-breaker for me. But I did feel bad about it; I like to think of myself as an open minded and tolerant person and dumping someone because he is a devout virgin doesn’t quite fit that image of myself.
Obviously, it is totally unacceptable to discriminate against someone because of religion, but should that apply to dating as well? You can’t reject someone for employment because of his beliefs… is okay to reject someone from your love life? How important is it to have the same religious beliefs?