"Crossing the Tiber" / "Swimming the Tiber" have come to be the shorthand term for converting to Roman Catholicism, as well as "Swimming/Crossing the Thames" for converting to Anglicanism. (source Wikipedia)

I wonder whether there are swimming/crossing bodies of water related terms for conversion between other branches of Christianity, especially to/from Eastern Orthodoxy? How about for conversion among Protestant branches?

  • If there is established usage for conversion to/from non-Trinitarian Christianities (such as JW or LDS), I'm willing to broaden the Q. Sep 25, 2023 at 18:33
  • 1
    Interesting question with regard to converting to another denomination. The only river I contemplate crossing is Jordan, but not anytime soon, God willing!
    – Lesley
    Sep 27, 2023 at 6:56
  • 1
    @Lesley That's the river in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, right? Separating our mortal era with our glorified era? That can be a question in itself: whether all 3 major traditions use that Jordan crossing analogy. Sep 29, 2023 at 15:47
  • 1
    I asked a question about "crossing over Jordan" some years ago, but I would be more than happy to give a "green tick" to accept a better answer than the one I gave! christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/63168/…
    – Lesley
    Sep 29, 2023 at 16:32
  • 2
    In Scotland the colloquial phrase is "jumping the dyke". From Protestant (not necessarily Church of Scotland) to Roman Catholic or vice versa.
    – davidlol
    Oct 6, 2023 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


Wordage for Unbelievers It has been common for those leaving Jehovah Witnesses and converting to another Faith to be called "becoming Apostates." And those leaving Mormonism (LdS) are considered "becoming Gentiles." (They are also considered "disfellowshipped" and members are encouraged to break off ties with even relatives who leave the org.) Those who wish to leave Islam are considered "infidels." Trinitarian believers who convert to Satanism are considered "becoming reprobate."

As far as using watery wordage, it is not known. The break-away from these religions is often considered more traumatic with dire eternal consequences, and so stronger wordage would be used. Also, there are not always distinct bodies of water separating regions which incorporate different Faiths, so such wordage would be impossible to apply there.

Interesting question, though!

Additional Note Along with "conversion" the N.T. encourages "reconversion" for a brother who has gone wayward. Not just toward another religion or questionable sect (denomination), but also into sinful life-style: someone who has crossed back over the line (river). But for this the Bible used quite descriptive wordage to the extreme:

If any man sees his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it! (1 John 5:16)

And of some have compassion, making a difference. And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23)

Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass...if he shall neglect to hear (the witnesses), tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen and a publican. (Matthew 18:15-18)

Conversion and reconversion were not taken lightly in the Early Church, but considered important. Hoping that none drown while crossing the river! (Galatians 6:1)

  • I just realize how the term is positive for the incoming org in stark contrast with the negativity for the outgoing org, which makes sense. From the Catholic church point of view, Catholics becoming Protestant commits heresy and can even be ex-communicated. But to the receiving Protestant church (esp. to those who started out Protestant but became Catholics but change their mind again), they are called "swimming back the Tiber" (a positive term). Sep 25, 2023 at 21:54
  • 2
    "And those leaving Mormonism (LdS) are considered "becoming Gentiles." (They are also considered "disfellowshipped" and members are encouraged to break off ties with even relatives who leave the org.)" This is pretty inaccurate. I've moved around a bit and never heard the phrase "becoming Gentile" (though it wouldn't shock me if someone used it as a joke once somewhere, but it's not a thing where you would tell me your aunt "went Gentile" and I'd know what on Earth you meant). And we aren't encouraged to shun those who go inactive or leave the Church--indeed, we're encouraged to show
    – Lige
    Oct 7, 2023 at 16:42
  • increased love towards the person struggling with their testimony, so that nobody feels like "I want to come back, but I'd just be too embarrassed" or whatnot (and we also just accept the commandment to love all our neighbors anyway ¯_(ツ)_/¯). Thank you for the rest of the answer :).
    – Lige
    Oct 7, 2023 at 16:46
  • Can you provide sources for your comments about LDS, JW, and Muslims? I've been LDS for decades and have never heard that terminology, nor have I ever been encouraged to "shun". My interactions with Witnesses suggest to me that your info about them might be inaccurate as well.
    – Alamb
    Nov 6, 2023 at 7:39
  • @ Alamb - There are many "testimonials" by those who tried to leave organizations on videos, DVDs, Youtube, etc. I refer you to THE GODMAKERS and THE TEMPLE OF THE GODMAKERS for examples. Also WITNESSES OF JEHOVAH. Your personal experience does not eliminate the adverse experiences of others.
    – ray grant
    Nov 28, 2023 at 22:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .