ASPEN, Colo.—Religious believers who hope to raise children who stay within their faith tradition face many challenges, some of them very worrisome, others less so. "It's good that in America people no longer want to murder Jews, but to marry them," Leon Wieseltier told an appreciative audience Saturday at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Fellow panelist Arsalan Iftikhar, a Muslim civil rights lawyer, saw his opening. "We hope to get there one day," he said, to slightly less comfortable laughter.
As the panelists pondered what American faith might look like in 2024, they grappled with what keeping religious traditions alive actually requires, prompted in part by an audience member who asked, "Can I be a good Jew if I don't believe in God?"
Wieseltier granted the possibility.
"Can I be a good Catholic?" the man asked.
"That's not your problem," Wieseltier said.
Another audience member noted that while she was raised Catholic, her four children include a Buddhist, a Jew, and "two undeclareds." Alluding to research that suggests Millennials are less racist than the generations that came before them, she said, "I also like the thought that religion is evolving." Perhaps they'll survey parts of religious traditions that they like and combine them. "Perhaps they'll be less divisive," she said, "and change the whole face of religion in our society."