A part of the reading I found really interesting this week was Chaves discussion of the rise of religious pluralism. This was definitely something that I could relate to as I know that my family has become more accepting of different religions, particularly because, what Chaves describes as, “People’s families and friendship circles are more religiously diverse than they used to be” (Chaves 19). I know that in terms of my extended family, until around the last 15 years, the family and friendship circles of my grandparents was exclusively Catholic. As supported by Chaves, there is strong concentration of Catholics in the Northeast (19). As a result, for a long period of time, my grandparents and their children’s social circle was largely made up of other Catholics, with a few exceptions.
This created strong conflict within my mother’s family when she decided to marry my father, who was raised nonreligious. At the time of my parents’ marriage, it was completely unheard of to marry someone outside of the Catholic faith. However, since then, religious opinions within my extended family have changed significantly. The “Aunt Susan Principle,” named by Putnam and Campbell and explained by Chaves as, “If your Aunt Susan is Catholic or Protestant of Jewish or Muslim or completely nonreligious, and you love her, it is more difficult to despise people whose religion than yours.” (19), was particularly evident in my family’s situation, where previously harbored religious biases were overturned by meaningful relationships and honest discussion. While my extended family was initially wary of my nonreligious father, they were able to become more accepting of religious diversity. This accepting attitude has expanded since my parents’ marriage, and I found it interesting to learn about this experience as a national trend in America.