The Changing Role of Religion in America Wedding Ceremonies


American views of marriage and organized religion are changing rapidly and it’s evidenced in their wedding ceremonies.

Studies show that American views of marriage and organized religion are changing rapidly. This is also reflected in how weddings are performed.

The number of online-ordained ministers is on the rise. Meanwhile, more and more couples seek to personalize the role religion plays in their weddings. The trend is to break free of  established ceremonies but still maintain a religious presence. Same-sex marriage, interfaith marriage and the increase of “religious nones” all contribute to this profound change.

Andrew J. Cherlin, a sociology professor specializing in marriage at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times that the popularity of Universal Life Church, which ordains ministers on-line, is living proof of an increasingly personal and individualistic attitude towards marriage. “Yet even secular Americans think that a religious presence matters,” he said, adding that an online-ordained minister gives couples more control over wedding ceremonies.

America is witnessing a privatization of marriage, said Brother G. Martin Freeman, the presiding chaplain of the Universal Life Church. The trend especially among young Americans is to get married among friends and family without the control, and ceremonial restrictions, of the state and of the church.

According to David Blankenhorn, the president of the Institute for American Values and the author of “The Future of Marriage,” more and more weddings have the feel of religion without the institutionality of it. He emphasized that even non-believers often want to have some kind of spiritual dimension in their weddings. It’s a matter of proliferation of choices, such as writing one’s own wedding vows.

The institution of marriage faces new changes due to the flow of immigration to the United States. There will more interracial and culturally diverse marriage with a whole new view on traditional ceremonies. And probably even a larger demand for personalized weddings.


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