Publication Details

This paper was originally delivered as McHugh, SA, Marrying Out - Catholic-Protestant Unions in Australia, 1920s-70s, Negotiating the Sacred V: Governing the Family, Arts Faculty, Monash University, Victoria, 14-15 August 2008.


For over 150 years, until post-war migration diluted the mix, Australia was polarised between the majority Anglo Protestant Establishment and a minority Irish Catholic underclass. Religious differences reflected social and political tensions derived from colonial days. Religious and family protocols strongly discouraged inter-faith marriages - yet until the late 1960s, a quarter of Australian Catholics continued to 'marry out'. ( Mol 1970). Such mixed marriages often caused deep family divisions, from social exclusion to disinheritance. Children brought up in such marriages often suffered a confused identity, not fully accepted by either 'side'. Such sectarian attitudes no longer apply to Catholics and protestants in Australia, but comparisons can be drawn with post 9/11 attitudes towards Muslims - the new 'other'. This paper contains excerpts from 42 oral histories of those with personal experience of 'mixed marriage', gathered for a doctoral thesis. It is presented here as a podcast - audio only.