Religious and spiritual identities have never been simple concepts, and scholars have disagreed on whether they are diametrical opposites or are two ends of a continuum. However, there is consensus that in the West, there has been a steady drift away from institutional religion and toward exposure to many possibilities for identity. Such exposure has transformed religious identities that used to be considered as a state of being handed down over generations to one of a state of spiritual choice over one’s relationship to the world and the meaning of life. We will explore the complexity of religious and spiritual identities in the modern world as manifested in interfaith marriage. How is one’s spiritual identity affected by marriage to someone from another faith tradition? Does one partner get more affected than the other? What support for one’s spiritual identity is available from religious and communities of belonging (family, friendship groups, neighborhoods, work associates, volunteer associations, etc.) for the individual and for the interfaith couple? What support is difficult to obtain? What sources of strength and issues to confront can interfaith couples share with others who are living in a world with many choices as to religious and spiritual identity?
Our presenters are Asha Sharma who grew up in the Hindu tradition, and her spouse Jeffrey Davies who is a convert to the Jewish faith. Asha is an attorney at Disability Partners in Saint Paul. Her volunteer activities include volunteer mediation at Ramsey County and work with Minnesota Attorneys for Human Rights where she helped international refugees seeking asylum status. Asha graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota Law School, where she was an editor at the prestigious Minnesota Law Review. Jeff is an outpatient mental health therapist with Fairview Clinic in Eagan. His professional philosophy is to help clients create new patterns of healthy living in their relationships, internal emotions and life goals. He earned his M.A. from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology.