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diffThe Riley survey (conducted for Naomi Schaefer Riley’s book ‘Til Faith Do Us Part) asked married respondents to choose between the following statements:

1. It is better for everyone involved if a married couple have the same religion.

2. What really matters is that a married couple have the same values regardless of their religion.

An overwhelming majority (79 percent) chose #2.

This apparently irritates the author, who was after all writing a book saying mixed-belief marriage is a bad idea. So having sampled the public opinion, Riley then derides it: “Americans…are not willing to put religion ahead of ‘common values,’ a more inclusive-sounding phrase.”

No, it’s not “more inclusive-sounding” — it’s more inclusive, kind of period. And putting “common values” in scare-quotes doesn’t change that.

It’s encouraging to see so many people, including religious believers, agreeing that common values can be found outside of a single tradition. That’s why successful mixed-belief marriages are much more common than Riley and other proponents of same-faith marriage would have you believe.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.