Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Unequally Yoked: Merging marriage and mixed religion (Interfaith Marriages Increasing in Australia)
EndRTimes via Daily Telegraph ^ | 08/14/2011 | Felicita Benedikovics

Posted on 08/14/2011 8:05:11 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

WITH more than 80 faiths and 240 nationalities represented in Australia, it's inevitable that love will blossom between people of different cultures and backgrounds.

“Interfaith relationships are an important barometer of social cohesion wherever they occur,” says Hass Dellal, executive director of the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

According to the 2006 census, 87 per cent of Aussie couples share the same religion, but Dellal points out, “We’re seeing more interfaith relationships with second- generation migrants.”

So, how does it work when you’re partner has a different belief structure to you? Can love really conquer all? We spoke to three couples about how they crossed the religious divide in the name of love.


Olga Kornilova and Michael Dunn met in 2001, both aged 21. Four years ago, Olga, a Russian Orthodox, converted to Orthodox Judaism. They had a Jewish wedding at The Great Synagogue in Sydney in 2008. They have two children, Hadassah, 3, and Ezra, seven months.

Olga: I moved from Russia to Sydney in 2000 to study business and I met Michael at a party. We discovered we had a similar sense of humour and started dating. Our relationship grew from there.

Michael’s family were relaxed about religion, but he ultimately wanted to marry someone Jewish. It wasn’t a big deal at first because, at 21, neither of us thought it would turn into a serious relationship. But a couple of years in, I considered converting. I didn’t have to, but I knew how important it was for Michael because of his family’s history with the Holocaust. Moving the relationship forward was up to me and I’m so glad I did.

I believe there’s only one God, but there are many ways to express your faith. In Judaism, I’ve simply learnt a different way. At home, I think there should only be one religion as it can be confusing, especially for children.

There have been many changes for me. When you convert, you have to choose a Jewish name. Michael’s grandmother suggested Golda, after Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of Israel. I’m known by both names now and I really like it.

I’ve also had to get used to eating kosher. Before, I loved prawns but, because they don’t have scales, they aren’t kosher. My cravings for them have finally stopped.

The conversion process takes 18 months to two years, and you experience it together as a couple. We became more involved with the synagogue that way. For Michael and me, our faith is always a topic we can discuss.

Michael: My parents weren’t very religious, but I always felt Jewish even if we didn’t go to the synagogue or observe the Sabbath. When Olga decided to convert and we went to the classes together, I had a reawakening. We observe more of the traditions and have taken on more of the culture.

My family are actually less comfortable about how religious we’ve become. Being kosher means our children don’t eat anything other than water or fruit at Grandma’s, which has been difficult for my mother to accept.

Two religions under the same roof wouldn’t work for us. I couldn’t accept it. I definitely appreciate what Olga did by converting. It showed her commitment to our relationship. It was a huge thing to do and something I’d never have been able to do myself.


Mike and Emily Cormack met on a blind date set up by a friend in 2008. Emily, 33, works in fundraising and community engagement for a charity, and is a Christian. Mike, 40, is a human resources specialist for the Fred Hollows Foundation, and isn’t religious.

Emily: Ever since I was baptised into the Anglican Church in my teens, I’d pictured myself with a Christian. When my friend Rebecca described Mike as a bit of a hippie, I knew he wasn’t going to be religious, but she’d wanted to introduce us for years, so I went along on the date thinking perhaps he just hadn’t met the ‘right’ Christian.

At first, I kept my faith to myself but, by our third date, I couldn’t hide my beliefs. It’s an embodiment of who I am how I live my life and treat people around me, rather than something I constantly profess.

It’s confronting to be with someone who doesn’t believe in God, but Mike has so many qualities that speak to my heart, and I fell in love. After that, the fact he didn’t share my beliefs didn’t seem to matter.

While Mike can be cynical about the church, he understands its importance to me. He’s even agreed to contact my friends from church if ever I’m seriously ill, so they can pray for me.

We manage to find a good balance, such as our wedding – Mike wasn’t keen on a church ceremony, but I wanted my vows to be said before God. We had a beautiful civil celebration in the Hunter Valley officiated by the priest from my church and my brother.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m the lonely woman at church, and I have to be selective about which activities I attend. I have to consider Mike, too, and my marriage is more important than a church camp.

Mike: I went to a Catholic school, which is actually a good way not to become religious. I find it highly unlikely that there’s a God who cares if my footy team wins or if I find a parking spot. Through my work in international community development, I’ve seen the good that can be done in the name of religion; I’ve also seen the harm it can cause.

Finding out about Emily’s faith wasn’t such a big deal. I view it in terms of a cross-cultural dynamic. I like how Emily is in the world, and if she believes that’s an expression of her faith, that’s fine by me. When we have kids, I’ll be happy for them to know both our views.

It doesn’t intrude in our relationship, but if she asked me to go to church or pushed religious literature on me, it would be problematic.

Our social lives are pretty cohesive, but there are times when I’m the outsider – I walked out of a wedding once when the priest’s sermon was a little too aggressively charismatic for my taste. But what makes our relationship work is how we are together. It’s pretty simple and works.


Radhika Raju, 34, is a lawyer and a Hindu, while Greg Murray, 40, is a business owner and a Seventh-Day Adventist. They met in 2008 and married last October in two ceremonies, one Hindu and the other Christian with a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor.

Radhika: Growing up, I always envisaged I’d have a Hindu husband. There was talk of an arranged marriage, but my dad says he never found anyone good enough.

As I matured and saw the world, I was more interested in finding someone with a good heart, which is what I found in Greg. We met on a self-development course and I thought there was something special about him. My dad wasn’t sure our cultures and religions would work together and he worried that Greg’s parents wouldn’t accept me. It was a turning point in my father’s eyes when Greg’s parents welcomed me wholeheartedly.

Hinduism is a way of life; there’s no once-a-week service. There are festivals and most Hindus have a prayer room in their house where they honour deities each morning and night. There’s one at my parents’ place, but Greg and I don’t have one.

It was one of the agreements we made when we married – no religious iconography from either of our faiths in our home. That’s been a real compromise for me, and sometimes I think, would it hurt to have a little something tucked away in a cupboard? But I respect Greg’s wishes.

Greg: Radhika was very different to other girls I’d gone out with. Initially, I was apprehensive about it working, but I’d never met anyone so respectful and loving. To us, our different faiths are only a problem if we make them one.

I believe spirituality can express itself in more than one faith. We had the two wedding ceremonies because we wanted to start our lives together on the right foot, observing both cultures. When we have children, they’ll grow up knowing both religions.

It’s what we have in common that makes our relationship work. Our faiths aren’t the only difference between us – there are also our political leanings. We like to have a bit of fun with it, but we also know when to stop if we have a difference of opinion. It’s so important to respect that, especially when you’re married to a lawyer.

TOPICS: Society
KEYWORDS: australia; interfaith; marriage

Radhika and Greg marry in the Hindu tradition
1 posted on 08/14/2011 8:05:15 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

interesting article.
although i was surprised to not see a Muslim.
there are plenty of Muslim men marrying non-muslim women,
in Western countries like Australia.

if you look at foreign marriage applications, while you hear a lot about Russian or Phillipino brides,
it is very common to see a Moroccoan man,
being brought here to marry an American.

(and ONLY for men. it is allowed for them.
but it is haram for a muslima to marry outside the faith.
she automatically becomes an apostate.)

2 posted on 08/14/2011 8:26:00 AM PDT by Elendur (It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. - Thomas Jefferson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Having NOT done this, my advice to anyone is:

Marry within your race, marry within your faith.

Friendship and even love are one thing. Setting up a functioning household is whole other thing. The hard eyed match makers of old made better deals for everyone than popular songs, moonlight, sheer fabric and cheap wine ever did.

3 posted on 08/14/2011 8:26:21 AM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Psalm 144
Marry within your race, marry within your faith.

I agree with marrying one of like faith. But there is only one race, the human race. Just because someone has more or less melanin in their skin does not mean it will be a bad marriage.

Drop your racism please. It does not befit a good conservative to make preferences based upon skin color.

4 posted on 08/14/2011 8:57:37 AM PDT by Guyin4Os (A messianic ger-tsedek)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Guyin4Os

“Drop your racism please.”

Drop your PSA commissariat posturing please.

If you think marrying outside of your own race - there are different races - makes for an easy row to hoe then you are an abject fool.

I have done so, and know how it makes it hard for everyone including one’s children, and I am mixed race myself.

Now take your nugget of wisdom and put it back where you pulled it from.

5 posted on 08/14/2011 10:29:49 AM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Ah, the seventh day adventist makes a ritual sacrifice to the fire god.

6 posted on 08/14/2011 1:56:40 PM PDT by Mamzelle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Psalm 144
I have done so, and know how it makes it hard for everyone including one’s children, and I am mixed race myself.

Everyone is "mixed race," by your arbitrary definition of "race." There is no such thing as a "pure race" human being. However, under my definition of "race," there is only one race, the human race.

I am sorry you had a bad experience due to your skin color. I had a bad experience because of the spelling of my real first name. Others have bad growing-up experiences due to other issues. To reason from bad experiences of individuals to form general recommendations for everyone is erroneous. It is better to teach individuals how to overcome the bad experiences they will certainly have than to try to form general rules that encourage discrimination on the basis of skin color.

7 posted on 08/14/2011 6:28:08 PM PDT by Guyin4Os (A messianic ger-tsedek)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Guyin4Os

You make many assumptions. So far all of them wrong as well as condescending and banal.

Learn the difference between ‘race’ and ‘species’ or you will continue to reveal yourself as an ignoramus.

8 posted on 08/14/2011 6:40:14 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Psalm 144
Learn the difference between ‘race’ and ‘species’ or you will continue to reveal yourself as an ignoramus.

have a nice day

9 posted on 08/14/2011 7:51:01 PM PDT by Guyin4Os (A messianic ger-tsedek)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Guyin4Os

You as well.

10 posted on 08/14/2011 8:46:51 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson