What’s on America’s Thanksgiving menu? Start with religious diversity.

by Msnbctv news staff


(RNS) — Greater than 54 million persons are anticipated to journey this Thanksgiving week. A lot of them might be going residence; many might be welcomed into different folks’s properties and discover traditions, meals and flavors they’ve by no means encountered earlier than. Although we have fun all we’re grateful for on Thanksgiving, encounters with different households and different faiths have been a key ingredient on the desk. 

The nation’s most religiously various areas are Brooklyn and Queens, New York; the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.; and Navajo County, Arizona, in line with the Public Faith Analysis Institute. However throughout your complete nation, 4 in 10 American adults now not follow the identical faith as Mother or Dad. In the event that they grew up Catholic, the chances are even greater they’ve made a swap.

Any married {couples} in your visitor checklist? Practically 40% of People who married after 2010 are in religiously blended marriages. That features the second household: Vice President Kamala Harris identifies as a Christian who was raised in a Hindu and Christian family; in 2014 she married Doug Emhoff, who’s Jewish. 

Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury Faculty in Vermont and a professor of faith, shares a Thanksgiving meal with Unitarians, nones, Jews and Greek Orthodox. “A enjoyable group!” she wrote in an e mail. 


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“We have been all raised Unitarian, which teaches an appreciation of and engagement with many alternative faiths,” wrote Patton. “My 89-year-old dad and mom stay Unitarian, though neither are capable of attend church. My mom is extra pro-Unitarian than my father, a retired surgeon who would have been extra comfy as a ‘None.’” 

The Rev. Fred Davie, a Presbyterian minister and senior strategic adviser to the president of Union Theological Seminary, wrote: “My plans are to have Thanksgiving dinner with my husband, Michael, and 4 mates. I’m the one training individual of religion. My husband and two of our mates are culturally Christian however contemplate themselves to be agnostic. One other buddy, culturally Jewish, is an atheist and he’s married to somebody who’s spiritually fluid, as he was born to a nominally Buddhist dad and training Christian mother.” 

“We’ll give thanks at dinner,” Davie says, “however not in any custom. And we’ll acknowledge the doubtful historical past of the vacation whereas embracing a ritual of gratitude.” 

Over the previous few years, the outdated adage about not discussing faith and politics in firm has turn into as a lot a survival technique as a matter of etiquette. However veterans of religiously various Thanksgiving tables say that inviting friends to share the tales of their very own faiths (not their opinions of others) just isn’t solely a gesture of inclusion and hospitality however a balm to division.

“Sharing tales is such a robust means for us to get to know each other,” mentioned Salma Hasan Ali, a Muslim author who lives in Washington, D.C., and based a well-liked weblog about gratitude that pulls folks of various faiths.

Research present that American non secular range will solely proceed to develop and that Thanksgiving dinners of the long run will proceed to replicate this “potluck nation,” within the phrases of Inerfaith Youth Core founder and president Eboo Patel. All of us convey one thing particular to the desk.

The spirit of Thanksgiving, certainly, can occur at any time when and wherever America’s various neighborhood is re-created — even the place there isn’t any desk in any respect.

Three years in the past, when Dr. Anu Gorukanti, now a pediatric hospitalist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Middle in San Jose, California, and her doctor husband have been within the throes of their residency coaching, they determined to forgo a conventional dinner and household on Thanksgiving and as a substitute flew to South America to hike the Incan Path, excessive within the Andes.

For Gorukanti, who grew up Hindu and Indian American in Alabama, residence to among the least religiously various counties within the nation, it was some of the reaffirming Thanksgivings of her life.

“Essentially the most significant a part of the hike have been the connections we made climbing alongside folks from everywhere in the world,” Gorukanti wrote in an e mail. “We met individuals who dreamt of climbing Machu Picchu for years and others whose life had taken an sudden detour for them find yourself there,” she mentioned.

“I felt a deep sense of neighborhood in these transient moments of reference to strangers, a therapeutic antidote to the struggling and disconnection that I felt in my job. It jogged my memory that the world is a lot greater than we understand — that in each small city on this world, there are folks navigating love, loss, and connection. And that’s one thing I’m grateful for.”

(Monique Parsons is a faith reporter based mostly in Chicago and managing editor of Interfaith America, a media web site sponsored by Interfaith Youth Core. The views expressed on this commentary don’t essentially replicate these of Faith Information Service.) 



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