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Converting for Love

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A person decides to become part of a religion due to some sort of romantic interest.

Happens quite often in Real Life, particularly with religions which do not allow their believers to marry outside their faith. It is somewhat more common for the woman to convert. Perhaps this is because so many cultures are patriarchal.

Of course, actual dedication to the new religion varies from convert to convert. Individuals who lack genuine religious fervor may stop practicing their new faith if they Did Not Get the Girl (or guy) they were interested in. On the other hand, it is also common for the convert to become more fervent than their loved ones who grew up in the religion.


Compare Love Is Like Religion, when the "conversion" is to love. See also Turn to Religion.


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     Comic Books 
  • Discussed in Maus, the Author Avatar's wife converted to Judaism to please his father. Since the characters of Maus are represented by Funny Animals, Art Spiegelman, the Author Avatar, wonders if he should portray her conversion as her turning from a frog (i.e. French) into a mouse (Jew). His wife just tells him to portray her as a mouse and leave out the conversion.

     Fan Fic 
  • In Harry Potter fan fic Hogwarts 1940, a witch converts to Judaism in order to marry a Jewish muggle.
  • Tim Drake mentions his mother was brought up Jewish but converted to Catholicism to please her in-laws in Angel Of The Bat. Tim was at least somewhat raised culturally Jewish but mentions his mother was more true to her newfound faith than his father, who was more of a Raised Catholic type.
  • It's mentioned in the Mean Girls fic Rip Her To Shreds that both Regina and Janis' fathers converted to Judaism for their wives.

  • Ian Miller (the main character's Love Interest) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding converts to the Greek Orthodox Church.
  • Happens in Eat Drink Man Woman when the eldest daughter Jia-Jen (a Christian) marries the school volleyball coach. When one of her sisters points out that he's not Christian, she smiles and replies, "He will be."
  • In The Big Lebowski, Walter had converted to Judaism for his wife, and remains as such, despite being divorced.
  • In Keeping the Faith, Christian Anna Riley converts to Judaism so she can marry rabbi Jack Schram.
  • Implied to happen after the end of Kiss Me Guido, as the older brother and his love interest (the younger brother's landlady) are getting busy on the couch in the theater lobby; he (in muffled tones) asks "Will you convert [to Catholicism] for me?" and she says yes.
  • A particularly interesting instance in The Believer, where Carla appears to have converted to Judaism by the end of the movie. Thanks to her self-hating Jewish boyfriend. Who's a Neo-Nazi.
  • The film David and Leila features a romance between a Jewish man and Muslim Kurdish woman in New York City. At first, she pretends to be Jewish so his parents will accept it, and surprisingly her family doesn't have a problem with him at all (Kurds having more problems with fellow Muslims than Jews). Her father still tells him the Imam (who's Lebanese and thus dislikes Jews) won't let them get married unless he becomes a Muslim though, which he does after initial reluctance (humorously noting how easy it is converting to Islam versus Judaism-"No wonder there are so many more of you.")
  • A throwaway conversation in the S.W.A.T. movie has one of Jim Street's colleagues in the LAPD armory mention that he converted to Mormonism when he got married. And habitually violates their dietary rules on the job due to a love of fast food.

  • There's an old Jewish joke about a father who gives his son one piece of advice as he leaves for college: whatever you do, don't marry a girl who isn't Jewish. Sure enough, he goes to college, meets a girl who isn't Jewish, falls in love, and gets married. To appease his father, she converts. In fact, while taking conversion classes, she gets so excited about the religion that she becomes a fervent believer. Fast forward a few months, and the father drops by the son's house and tries to get the son to come to the movies with him. The son refuses, saying that his wife tells him that it's not allowed for Jews to go to the movies (or do anything involving electricity) on Saturdays. Punchline: "I TOLD YOU NOT TO MARRY A GIRL WHO WASN'T JEWISH!"

  • This is Older Than Print due to occurrences in medieval literature. Notably Parzival, where the half-Arab Muslim Feirefiz undergoes a rather unconvincing conversion for love of the Grail princess. (He doesn't even know what "baptism" is, but if it's what he has to do to marry her...)
  • Katya and Leisl both join the Church of Lathander in the Ravenloft novel Vampire of the Mists because they're in love with Sasha, the priest.
  • Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker series has Decker convert to Judaism in order to be with the Jewish Orthodox widow Rina Lazarus. An unusual example since as an adult he finds out that he was born to Jewish parents (and thus was already considered a Jew under Jewish law) but he was adopted and raised by Southern Baptists, so it's as much about getting reacquainted with his heritage as this trope.
  • Harry Kemelman's Conversations with Rabbi Small features a great deal of discussion on the subject; the girl wants to pursue conversion despite insistence by both Small and her fiancé that they aren't interested (Small is more concerned with reverting the not-so-observant man). But she turns out to be genetically Jewish anyway, so converting isn't required in the end.
  • In The Godfather, Kay (a Protestant) converts to Catholicism after marrying Michael. In fact, she turns out to be far more into her new faith than he ever was since Michael is actually annoyed at her insistence in raising their kids Catholic (he wanted them to be brought up Protestant and thus more assimilated into American culture.)
  • In The Alien Series, Serene attends catechism classes at a Catholic church, despite being her family's religion being so important to them they were willing to go into exile on Earth for it because she's trying to get closer to her Catholic crush.
  • Ulrika in The Emigrants converts to Christianity's Baptist denomination in order to marry a Baptist priest.
  • In The Long Ships, Orm has to convert to Christianity to marry the beautiful Ylva. (From Islam, of all religions; he'd already converted from the Norse religion to serve under Caliph Almansur.)
    • Olof Summerbird also converts to Christianity in order to marry Orm's oldest daughter Ludmila. Considering that he earlier had openly advocated for killing Christians on sight, this is a big step for him.
    • Inverted by Toke, who refuses to convert for love. His "wife" Mirah is Muslim and spent a long time as a prisoner or slave among Christians, and she hates Christians passionately. Toke outright says that as much as he would do for his good friends Orm and Father Willibald, converting is simply not in the cards.
  • In People of the Book, Reuben Ben Shoushan converts to Christianity to marry his Catholic sweetheart. This being Spain in 1492, it really doesn't end well.
  • Adja Awa Astou from the novel Xala converted from Catholicism to Islam in her youth in order to marry El Hadji, and as a result is estranged from her devout father.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful: Sam says that Debbie converted to Saul's denomination to marry him, although neither believes 100% in the denomination's teachings.
  • Subverted in Swedish science fiction novel Iskriget (The Ice War), in which neither Catholic Linda nor Wesleyan (i.e. Methodist) Johnny convert — they just have a Catholic wedding. Considering that in this alternate history the Wesleyans appear to be openly disliked by a lot of authoritarian governments for their stance on social justice, it was probably the most practical solution.
  • In Tales of Kolmar, Akhor is made to become human to be with Lanen as Varien. When this happens he doesn't stop praying to the Winds, but he does mention the human goddess, Lady Shia, a lot more often and with more reverence than before.
  • In The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Wanda fall in love with her family's Jewish slave Jacob. After Jacob manages to buy his freedom, he returns for Wanda and the two of them run off. Wanda converts to Judaism so they can be married.
  • The Danielle Steel novel Coming Out mentions that the protagonist converted to Judaism before marrying her second husband. Very touchingly, he did not ask to do this—they were in their late 40s when the wed, ergo there was no need for debate over what religion their children would be raised in—she did it essentially as a wedding gift to him to show how much she loved him.
  • The Flyte family of Brideshead Revisited are Catholics, and Lord Marchmain was expected to convert in order to marry Teresa Flyte. Hilarity Ensues when Rex Mottram attempts the same to marry Julia.
  • Sasha from The Tenets of Futilism picks up a rather unusual set of beliefs about halfway through the novel. She even starts a cult. Her partner, Joe, is heavily hinted to not share in her beliefs, and only pretends to out of love.
  • Happens a lot in 1632, but one short story, "Pastor Kastenmayer's Revenge", the titular Lutheran pastor seeks "revenge" for his daughter eloping with a Catholic uptimer (and, it is implied, converting for him) by inciting the unmarried women in his congregation to likewise woo uptimer men, but demand a conversion to Lutheranism in exchange for marriage.
  • Not technically a religion, but, in Discworld story Unseen Academicals, Pepe "converted to Dwarfishness" to be with his dwarven life-partner, Madam Sharn. It still fits the trope because, unlike most other fantasy settings, Discworld dwarves regard dwarfishness as more of a philosophy/lifestyle/deity-free religion than a matter of species. Hence why Captain Carrot is seen and held as being a perfectly normal dwarf, despite the fact that genetically he's a six-foot-something-tall human.

     Live Action TV 
  • Seinfeld:
    • George converts to Latvian Orthodoxy briefly for a girlfriend, only to lose the girlfriend anyway (according to The Other Wiki, the writer of that episode had no idea that Latvian Orthodox was a real sect — he was trying to make up a fictional one).
    • In another episode, Elaine goes to a bar mitzvah and the kid tries to make out with her immediately after being officially declared a man. She tells him that he's still not old enough to be a real man, so he calls the bar mitzvah a sham and renounces Judaism. His father then tries to make out with Elaine, interpreting her "not old enough" comment as evidence she was interested in him. She accuses him of only being attracted to her because he's Jewish and she's a shiksa, and to "prove" her claim wrong, he renounces Judaism as well.
  • Charlotte converts to Judaism for her eventual husband in Sex and the City, and was frustrated to discover that the process was much more involved and complicated than a quick in-and-out baptism. She does ultimately succeed in officially converting and proving herself to the rabbi as not just being in it for the sake of marriage as both he and she first believed.
  • Happened in I'm Alan Partridge with Lynn being baptized.
  • In the first season of Soap Corinne is in love with Father Tim, who leaves the priesthood for her. She isn't Catholic, but she converts.
  • Big Love has Margie leaving the main Mormon church and joining a polygamous offshoot. (Which, if the Mormon church learns of it, is grounds for immediate excommunication; hence a lot of the secrecy).
  • In Arrested Development, George Michael tries to ante-up the game with Bland Ann by attending her religious protests and family Christmas party.
  • In The O.C. Summer plans on converting to Judaism for Seth. Interestingly averted with Seth's mother Kirsten who is confirmed several times as not converting and is happily married anyway.
  • In a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode called "Shandeh", the victim was a Catholic woman who converted to Judaism for her husband.
  • A storyline on the primetime soap Sisters had youngest sister Frankie converting to Judaism with her husband Mitch. Interestingly, she was not converting to join his religion—they were both Christian and decided to convert after Mitch attended some services that gave him an insight into Jewish life.
  • Janelle from Sister Wives says that she fell for Kody and the faith came later. With the later revelation that her mom married Kody's dad shortly before Janelle and Kody got married, it seems there was also some Converting for Love there.
  • In House, Cuddy's mother had converted to Judaism for her husband. While House is dating Cuddy, she asks whether he intends to convert to Judaism as well. As he claims to be atheist, she just says that so are most Jews and that it's more about community.
  • In Degrassi, Jenna gets baptized in order to hook up with Luke, who is a conservative Christian.
  • Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves: While he doesn't straight up convert, Benjamin leaves Jehovah's Witnesses in order to come out of the closet and be with his lover Rasmus. Not only does that mean leaving the church he was raised in but it also means that he is dead to his parents and sister. His parents are even kind enough to show up at his door with flowers and cake for a "funeral service".
  • Sarah Hamoudi converted to Islam in order to marry Yasir in the backstory of Little Mosque on the Prairie...and is depicted as being a thoroughly unenthusiastic Muslim, partially because Yasir is as well (the plot of many episodes revolve around either their daughter Rayyan or the imam Amaar nagging one or both of them to behave more Islamically)
  • On Masters of Sex, Ethan, who is non-observant Jewish, is convinced by his fiancee Vivian to convert to Christianity so they can get married in a church. However, he decides not to and breaks up with her.
  • In the Grand Finale of The King of Queens, Holly moves in with Rabbi Feldman and converts to Judaism.
    Feldman: Well, you know, if things work out between us, you'll have to convert.
    Holly: Of course I will. (beat) To what?
  • In Magnificent Century, Hürrem converts to Islam after Sümbül Ağa tells her Süleyman will never marry a Christian. It's a period drama, and the same thing happened in real life.
  • On 7th Heaven, Matt converts to Judaism after falling for Sarah, though their Pastor / Rabbi fathers initially objected to their union.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo seriously considers following the Way of the Prophets so that he can go to services with Kira.

  • The song "I Could Be Jewish For You" is all about a girl telling her Jewish boyfriend she's willing to convert to be with him. It's primarily a comedic song, but it's actually rather sweet at the end when she sincerely tells him she's willing to convert despite not knowing a thing about the faith because she loves him, and really wants to be with him forever.

     Puppet Shows 

     Religion and Mythology 
  • Unsurprisingly common in The Bible: for example, the Matriarchs and Jacob's daughters-in-law were presumably all converts.
    • A major theme of The Book of Ruth, with a twist: after Ruth's husband dies her mother-in-law, Naomi, advises her and Orpah to return to their old homes and religion. Ruth, however, stays out of loyalty to Naomi.
    "Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God."

  • In the opera Madame Butterfly, Butterfly secretly converts on the night before her wedding so she can worship the God of her husband-to-be. For this, she is disowned by all her relatives.
  • In Fiddler on the Roof, daughter Chava converts to Christianity so that she can marry a Christian. She is effectively dead to her father, and by extension the rest of her family, for most of the rest of the play.
    • In the older, Yiddish adaptations, as well as Sholem Aleichem's Tevye stories, on which the plays are based, Chava cannot live without her faith. She deserts her husband and, possibly, children, begging her father to take her back. Sometimes, Tevye relents. Sometimes he doesn't, but she follows the yiddishe mishpocha into exile anyway, hoping eventually he'll let her rejoin the family.
  • Jessica does this in The Merchant of Venice, becoming a Christian after she elopes with Lorenzo compare with her father Shylock's forced conversion to avoid capital punishment.

  • In Tina's Story, Tina wants to convert to Judaism, so her fiancee and their children-to-be would have a common bond.
  • Shown in a flashback in Ugly Hill, where its shown that Hastings was attempting to convert to Catholicism to marry his first wife Hope, at her request due to her parents being staunchly Catholic. Hastings himself is agnostic and completely uninterested in religion, considering it to be a waste of time. It becomes a moot point due to Hastings accidentally destroying the local churches saint statues, and getting himself barred for life.

     Western Animation 
  • Babs Pewterschmidt, Lois's mother in Family Guy was originally Jewish, with her maiden name being Hebrewberg Moneygrabber, but Carter wanted her to convert when they got married so he could get into country clubs.

     Real Life 
  • Isla Fisher, Ivanka Trump, and Elizabeth Banks all converted to Judaism to marry.
  • Autumn Kelly had to convert from Catholicism to Anglicanism to marry Peter Phillips (Princess Anne's son), because under the laws in place at the time of their marriage (2008), Philips would have had to give up his place in the succession if he had married a Catholic. (The laws were changed in 2015, so a person is only disqualified from the succession if they are actually Catholic, rather than being married to onenote ).
  • Bobby Jindal, who served two terms as governor of Louisiana before being term-limited out in 2016, converted to Catholicism in high school after falling in love with a Catholic girl. This is why he doesn't go by his real name (it's not Robert, but rather Piyush, a Hindu name that he wants nothing to do with). He didn't wind up marrying her, but he remains a devout Catholic.
  • Marilyn Monroe converted to Judaism when she married Arthur Miller.
  • So did Elizabeth Taylor, when she married her third husband, Mike Todd.
  • Singer-songwriter Jim Croce also converted to Judaism upon marrying his wife Ingrid.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's wife Edith converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism for their marriage, a great sacrifice (although anti-Catholicism had died down considerably, converting to Catholicism would still cause a bit of a stir even in the early 20th century; also, Edith was involved in her parish and suffered some ostracism for the conversion) that Tolkien never forgot. This experience is quite unambiguously the basis for the recurring motif of immortal women marrying mortal (or at least lesser-ranked) men in Tolkien's work, such as Arwen marrying Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, in the process irreversibly separating from her people or origin.note 
  • A rare (for the time) male example: Sir Ernest Cassel, a famous British Jewish merchant banker of the Victorian era, converted to Catholicism because of a deathbed plea from his wife. Decades later, when his friend King Edward VIII made him a member of his Privy Council, everyone present was astonished that Cassel insisted upon swearing his oath with a Catholic Bible.
  • Non-Muslim men marrying even moderately-serious Muslim women typically invert this: the traditional Sunni interpretations of Islamic law permit Muslim men to marry non-Muslim "believers" (usually considered to include Christians and Jews, occasionally expanded to include Zoroastrians and even Hindus and Buddhists), but do not permit Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men. The reason that this is a Sunni regulation and not a Shia one is that the rule started with the Caliph Umar, whom the Shia regard as a usurper. Since most Muslims are Sunni, most mixed marriages involving a Muslim woman typically require the man converting. It should be noted that the basis in the Qur'an is kind of vague; it clearly bans marriage to kafirun (unbelievers) but who exactly is an unbeliever is a rather tricky subject. More liberal Muslims restrict its definition to just the ancient Arab pagans (who no longer exist), or sometimes pagans/animists generally; more conservative opinion generally considers anyone not a member of the Abrahamic religions (sometimes plus Zoroastrianism, on account of a confusing passage in the Qur'an) a kafir, although some are grudgingly willing to admit other non-Abrahamic monotheists are theoretically acceptable (usually while strenuously insisting that most or all forms of Hinduism and Buddhism are only pseudo-monotheistic and so don't qualify); and the radical fundamentalists often go so far as to say as everyone who does not hold to their strict interpretation of Islam is an unbeliever.
    • In Malaysia, a non-Muslim marrying a Muslim must first convert to Islam, regardless of gender. It's the law. And unlike other nations, it is almost impossible for a Muslim to convert to another faith - meaning that even if you had converted merely for the sake of your spouse, you can't simply "jump ship" back to your old faith if your marriage crumbles.
      • In a lot of countries, converting from Islam for any reason can get you killed or otherwise result in punishment. How severe depends on the country: in Egypt, a private citizen has to get offended enough by it to bring it up with the prosecutor, who may or may not be willing to pursue the case, and the worst that can happen to someone convicted of apostasy (which includes both conversion away from Islam and what amounts to heresy) is having to pay a fine and, if male and married to a Muslim Egyptian citizen, having the marriage annulled.note  On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, a convert away from Islam should not expect to keep his or her head for very long once the Culture Police find out about it.
      • Yet other Muslims find the idea distasteful in that, love amongst persons may die when said person dies, and when conversion is done out of love to a person, that faith can die when the person (and hence the love) dies. Then again, there have been cases where a person converted out of love for the person, only to find him/herself genuinely attracted to the religion and started practicing with full conviction.
  • Speaking of this business, the Egyptian actor Omar Sharif (of Doctor Zhivago fame) was actually born to a Catholic family of Lebanese origin (his birth name is Michel Dimitri Shalhoub). He converted from Catholicism to Islam at least in part to marry the Muslim actress Faten Hamama; they later divorced, but Sharif decided that Islam suited him better anyway. In 2008, he appeared in an Egyptian film (Hassan and Marcus) where he plays a Muslim sheikh who has to pretend to be Christian for his own safety, leading to a bit of irony for people who know his actual life story.
  • In the non-recent past, when a Jew left the faith and married a Gentile, it was seen as such a betrayal that his or her family would consider him or her dead. They might even sit Shiva, mourning just as if he or she really had died. Afterward, they would not speak to him or her even if he or she were standing in front of them, because logically they could not see or talk to a dead person. The attitude is understandable if you take into account the way Jewish communities were frequently harassed and persecuted by the people around them; besides betraying religion and culture, she had effectively defected to the enemy. Orthodox Jews sometimes still do this.
    • It's also common for Gentiles to convert when marrying a Jew, although this can be problematic because conversion is, by traditional Jewish law, only valid if sincere. That is, if the person is only undergoing the conversion to get married and does not believe in the Torah or has no intention of even trying to live by it, then the conversion is not supposed to be performed and would not be valid even if performed. In modern times, that has meant that the Orthodox do not regard Reform or Conservative conversions as valid, since a person undergoing such a conversion ceremony (especially if it's a Reform ceremony) by definition is not undertaking to live according to the Torah, at least by Orthodox lights.
  • Toshimitsu Deyama converted to a small "therapy and healing" sect called Home of Heart at the behest of his then-wife Kaori Moritani. It would take around 10 years for him to realize that this wasn't a good idea.
  • Very common when anyone who's not Mormon wants to marry someone who is. In Mormon theology, marriage is considered to be a necessary and eternal covenant (with the marriage continuing into future planes of existence), but this covenant can only be made between two active members of the church. For believing Mormons, therefore, marrying outside the church means making a vital part of family life impossible.
  • Some Christians practice "missionary dating," with a Christian dating a non-Christian for the purpose of helping spread the word about Jesus. Most apologists condemn the practice, as the Christian risks either compromising their own faith for the sake of the other party or facing heartbreak when the other person doesn't convert.
  • Jay Roach converted to Judaism when he married Susanna Hoffs.
  • Based on context clues, Katie Holmes likely did this when she started studying Scientology around the same time she dated and later married Tom Cruise. It didn't stick, given that she went back to Catholicism, the church of her youth, after divorcing Cruise.
  • In his autobiography The Color of Water, author/musician James McBride writes about his mother, Ruth McBride Jordan, who did this. Born Rachel Shilsky, she was a Russian Jew who immigrated to the U.S. as a child. She eventually converted to Christianity and married her first husband, a black pastor. Her family disowned her and in fact sat Shiva for her.
  • The then Princess Alix of Hesse would have to convert to the Russian Orthodox faith in order to marry the future emperor of Russia, Nicolas. She was understandably very reluctant to leave the Lutheran faith she grew up with, but her love for Nicolas convinced her to do so, taking the name Alexandra. Ironically, their religion was the only part of Russian culture Alexandra embraced wholeheartedly.
  • Jacquline Titone converted to Judaism while dating Adam Sandler. They got married three years later.


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