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Converting for Love

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Dot Williams: How are we going to tell your mother, Hugh?
Hugh Collins: I don't care. We'll get married in a Catholic church. I'll convert.
Dot Williams: But that would break your mother's heart.

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 that 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 and Changing Yourself For Love.


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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.
  • One Judge Dredd one shot centred around a man who converted to the Katlic religion so he could marry his fundamentalist girlfriend. He even gets an implant that shocks him should he act in a manner or even think thoughts that go against the tenets of the church. Unfortunately for him, his wife dies shortly after the wedding and his conversion entailed cutting off his family and friends, leaving him all alone. He becomes suicidal depressed, but his implant won't allow him to follow through, which leads him to attempt Suicide by Cop. Dredd arrests him in the process and informs him that Tek Division has the resources to tone down the implant, for which he is extremely grateful.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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 Culturally Religious 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.
  • Queen Anne's Legacy: Downplayed and outright defied. Edward converts to Catholicism to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and to garner the support of the Catholic Church for his rebellion against Ambrose. However, the conversion is purely for political expedience and he has no intentions of remaining Catholic once he gains the throne. Ambrose, knowing full well how fanatical a Protestant his brother is, later uses this against him by making sure all the derogatory remarks Edward made against Catholics while he was in court are spread throughout England, to reinforce to his Catholic subjects that his brother's conversion is not genuine.

  • 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 a 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 S.W.A.T. (2003) 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.
  • God Is Great and I'm Not: Michelle converts to Judaism after she falls in love with Francois. Francois isn't too crazy about it, and eventually it causes them to break up.

  • 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!"
  • Invoked in the following joke: A young Roman Catholic woman sees her priest and tells him that she fell in love with a handsome and nice Protestant guy, but couldn't marry him since she fears arguments due to their differing faiths. The priest suggests to try to convert the Protestant to Catholicism. When he sees the woman the following week, she tells him sobbingly that it worked and he wants to become a Catholic priest now.

  • 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/Rina Lazarus 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.
  • At the end of the book Spinning Silver, the Staryk King converts to Judaism in order to marry Miryem. Considering how they first met, as well as the way that the Stayrk generally treat humans, it really shows the amount of character development the Staryk King has undergone.
    "If you really wanted to court me," I said, "you'd have to do it by my family's laws, and you'd have the marry me the same way. Save your time!"
    He paused and looked up at me, and his eyes kindled with light suddenly; he took a step towards me, and held out his hand, and said urgently, "And if so? Whatever they are, I will venture them, if you will give me hope."
  • Deeplight: Quest originally joined the priests on Sanctuary to follow a girl named Ailodie. He stayed in the priesthood for other reasons, after coming to accept that she did not return his feelings.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 7th Heaven, Matt converts to Judaism after falling for Sarah, though their Pastor / Rabbi fathers initially objected to their union.
  • In Arrested Development, George Michael tries to ante-up the game with Bland Ann by attending her religious protests and family Christmas party.
  • 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 Degrassi, Jenna gets baptized in order to hook up with Luke, who is a conservative Christian.
  • Galavant: Playing the role of Sid's fianceé, Isabella assures his parents during "Oy! What a Knight" that she'll convert to Judaism.
    Isabella: Of course I'll be converting/So I'm sure we'll get along.
    Sid's Mother: Honey, please. You had me at shalom!
  • 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.
  • Happens in I'm Alan Partridge with Lynn being baptized.
  • Jack Ryan: Jim Greer converted to Islam to marry a Muslim woman. At the start of the series, they've divorced and he's no longer keen on religion. He's regained his faith at the end of the first season, and is shown to be still practicing in season 2.
  • 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 a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode called "Shandeh", the victim was a Catholic woman who converted to Judaism for her husband.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Astrid grew up Christian and converted to Judaism for her husband Noah. She felt like an outsider in the family and hoped converting would change that. Even after converting, though, she still feels like an outsider. Being Jewish doesn't make her fit in because she's not seamlessly Jewish like her in-laws—she's overtly, enthusiastically Jewish with an Immigrant Patriotism sort of zeal. Her Establishing Character Moment is arriving at a family dinner party bearing gifts from her eleventh trip to Israel. Her husband describes this kind of single-minded fixation as characteristic of her in general.
    Noah: Like the whole converting thing. She had to sign up for the accelerated conversion package. Goy to Jew in three weeks or less. Classes, rituals, and weird baths in basements, and, oh, my God, so much challah.
  • 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.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Hugh, a Protestant, converts to Catholicism to marry Dot. It doesn't go over well with his family.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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).
    • Inverted 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.note 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sleeper Cell: Alex converts to Islam after falling in love with a Muslim woman (his wife later on).
  • 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.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo seriously considers following the Way of the Prophets so that he can go to services with Kira. For her part, Kira only wants him to do it if he'd genuinely get something out of it, and is fine with him remaining secular if he can't bring himself to see the Prophets as gods.

  • 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 it's 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 
  • People who converted to Judaism to marry include:
    • Isla Fisher, to marry Sacha Baron Cohen.
    • Ivanka Trump, to marry Jared Kushner.
    • Elizabeth Banks.
    • Marilyn Monroe, to marry Arthur Miller.
    • Singer-songwriter Jim Croce also converted to Judaism upon marrying his wife Ingrid Jacobson.
    • Cellist Jacqueline duPre converted to Judaism when she married conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim.
    • Jay Roach converted to Judaism when he married Susanna Hoffs.
    • Adam Sandler's wife, Jackie Titone, converted to Judaism three years before they married.
    • Contrary to popular belief, Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judaism not to marry. Two of her husbands (Mike Todd and Eddie Fisher) were Jewish, but she converted out of personal beliefs that had nothing to do with them (according to biographer Alexander Walker, her decision came about because of her godfather, who was an avid Zionist).
  • Royal marriages sometimes involve conversions because the monarch is required to be of a particular faith. While many royal marriages are simply Arranged Marriages and the religious angle is just another diplomatic wrinkle among the paperwork, when royals marry for love it shades into this:
    • To take the British throne, a dynast of The British Royal Family, while not required to be a member of the Church of England, is prohibited from being a Catholic, and until 2015 was barred from marrying one, on pain of exclusion from the line of succession.note  This created some awkwardness in 2008, when Peter Philips, grandson of Elizabeth II (through her daughter Princess Anne) became engaged to the Canadian Catholic Autumn Kelly. Kelly had to convert from Catholicism to Anglicanism to marry Mr Philips.
    • In a similar vein, the Russian Tsar had to be a member of the Russian Orthodox Church — as did the monarch's consort. This created a problem when Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine fell hard for her cousin, the Russian Tsarevich (Crown Prince) Nicholas, while visiting her sister Elizabeth — who was married to Nicholas' uncle Grand Duke Sergei — in Saint Petersburg in 1890.note  However, Alix was a devout Lutheran and was understandably very reluctant to leave her faith. In 1894, though, her love for Nicholas, and a long talk with her sister (who had eventually converted to Orthodoxy in 1891), convinced her to do so, and so Alix converted, taking the name Alexandra Feodorovna.note  Ironically, their religion was the only part of Russian culture Alexandra embraced wholeheartedly.
    • Empress Michiko, consort of Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan and mother of the current Reiwa Emperor, was born to a Roman Catholic family in the flour business. Even though she converted to Shinto to meet the obligations of a Japanese Empress, members of the older generation of the Imperial Family looked askance at this Catholic commoner for many years after her marriage.
  • While not as strongly opposed to intermarriage as some religions, Catholicism does make life a bit harder for Catholics who marry outside the faith (particularly by denying them a church wedding and other symbolic difficulties). Plus, the grand traditions of Catholicism have a strong pull, so many people courting Catholics have converted:
    • 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.
    • 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 VII made him a member of his Privy Council, everyone present was astonished that Cassel insisted upon swearing his oath with a Catholic Bible.
    • Around the same time as Cassel, the Jewish German-born French composer Jacques Offenbach converted to Catholicism to marry his wife Hérminie d'Alcan, in 1844. Hérminie was from an old, conservative, devoutly Catholic family, and her husband being Catholic was non-negotiable for her. He gladly converted; they were happily married until his death in 1880.
  • In Islam:
    • The traditional Sunni interpretation of Islamic law typically invert this: Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslim "People of the Book" (Abrahamic religions, i.e. Christians and Jews, though occasionally expanded to include Zoroastrians), but do not permit Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men. If they want to marry, the men must convert. This is based on two verses in the Quran:
      "Today all good, pure foods have been made lawful for you. Similarly, the food of the People of the Book is permissible for you and yours is permissible for them. And ˹permissible for you in marriage˺ are chaste believing women as well as chaste women of those given the Scripture before you—as long as you pay them their dowries in wedlock, neither fornicating nor taking them as mistresses. And whoever rejects the faith, all their good deeds will be void ˹in this life˺ and in the Hereafter they will be among the losers." (5:5)
      "Do not marry unbelieving women until they believe; for a believing slave-woman is better than a free unbeliever, even though she may look pleasant to you. And do not marry your women to unbeliever men until they believe, for a believing slave-man is better than a free unbeliever, even though he may look pleasant to you. They invite you to the Fire while Allah invites you to Paradise and forgiveness by His grace. He makes His revelations clear to the people so perhaps they will be mindful." (2:221)
    • It should be noted that those Quranic verses are kind of vague. Marriage to unbelievers are strictly forbidden, but the lack of clarity regarding on what constitutes an unbeliever invites different opinions. Since Islam lacks a central authority, this ends up causing local interpretations to predominate. Liberal Muslims restrict the definition of "unbelievers" 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 including Zoroastrianism) an unbeliever, 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.
    • Thanks to a combination of cultural, historical, and religious factors, 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. This is because of two reasons. First, Malaysian politics are dominated by Malays, and the Malays equate Islam with Malayness — if you convert to another religion, you're no longer considered a Malay. Second, despite Malays forming a slim majority of the country's population, there exists a rather significant, mostly non-Muslim Chinese and Indian minorities, who were brought in by the British during colonial times. The Malays were annoyed by this but obviously couldn't get rid of them for fear of a backlash, so instead of expelling them after independence outright, the country has an officially sanctioned affirmative action law, which favors Malays and discourages them from intermixing with the minorities. Sounds unfair? The law is the reason why Singapore is today an independent country, not a state of Malaysia.
    • The aforementioned lack of central authority also means that the law on people leaving Islam for another religion mainly falls back on regional values. In former communist countries like Albania, it's nothing to sweat over (most Albanians don't really care about religion, anyway). In Indonesia, leaving and joining religion (not just Islam) is a rather taboo subject; though freedom of religion is provided by the government, one will have to expect losing connections with old friends and family if they insist on converting. 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.
  • Tibetan Buddhism was born out of the marriage of two Buddhists to a Tibetan. Songtsen Gampo is the Tibetan king whose reign marked the official introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. One of his wives, Bhrikuti, was a Nepali Buddhist woman. His other wife, Wencheng, was a Chinese Buddhist woman. Both bought statues of the Buddha when they moved in with him. Played with a little, though. This was in the 600s and records aren't great, but as far as we know the conversation came retroactively after the marriages, not as a prerequisite for it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat to Lithuania credited for saving thousands of Jews from slaughter during The Holocaust, became an Orthodox Christian to marry a Russian woman. The marriage only lasted a few years, but Sugihara remained a devout Christian, and once cited that his actions were driven by his Christian faith.