Religiosity in Asian America: Spiritual Vitality, Secularism, and Racialization

March 7, 2008

Sat in parts of the Symposium on Religion in Los Angeles, a 2-day event jointly hosted by Cal State University Los Angeles and Claremont School of Theology. Fascinating conversations and presentations that exemplified the growing interest in the sociology of religion, and most of the presentations explored the inter-relationship of religions and ethnicities.

Russell JeungRussell Jeung, Associate Professor of Asian Studies at San Francisco State University, made an insightful presentation titled “Religiosity in Asian America: Spiritual Vitality, Secularism, and Racialization.”

With permission from Russell Jeung, we are grateful for being able to post yesterday’s talk online. Here’s the audio (mp3 – run time = 42:17) and slides from his March 6th presentation about Asian American religious affiliation >>powered by ODEO

I thought slides #3 and #4 were most interesting, charting out the religious affiliation of Asian Americans, with respondents identifying as Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, other, none, or refused. These charts are very timely, as the major survey results by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life was just released last week, and has been highlighted in 300+ news articles. Several other conversations at the symposium responded and interacted with these Pew Forum’s extensive survey results. (also, see video overview about the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey)

Russell would very much like to get your feedback and thoughts about this presentation — please add a comment below.

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Comments:2 Responses

Find more like this: Asian American, Chinese, church, culture, demographics, L2 Blog, religion.

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djchuang.com
March 7th, 2008

To be American you need to have religion

Here in a symposium on religious faiths, affiliations, and ethnicities. Fascinating talk just began w/ Russell Jeung. He made a provocative statement as I started blogging– “To be American, you need to have a religious identity.” &#82…

solomon li
March 8th, 2008

interesting lecture. so often it seems that the “asian american” identity is somewhat broad considering the categories in which our people fall under theologically as well as culturally. the landscape is indeed filled with a variety of contours.

i’m interested though in the idea that asian americans are in the unique position to build bridges culturally. from my own experience, as well as speaking with other pastors, it seems quite the opposite. asian americans feel that they have a harder time reaching across the board to bringing people in. part of their reasoning is because they attract asians… and naturally when someone walks into a congregation with a sea of asian faces they become intimidated… or culturally irrelevant simply because you don’t come from the same background.

do you find this to be true as well? i’m interested in hearing more.

it seems to me part of the milieu as well with the drop in asian american Christians, could partly be because of the focus on turning Christianity into a more “works based” principle. in this regard, i see the connection between confucious and Jesus. it’s a confucian confusion (as i see it).

the problem with that i think is that because of the rampant post-modernity that is floating around and consuming us we tend to float towards legitimizing a works (righteousness) principle in our congregations. people want to be asian and american… and being raised in an asian context helps to bring back their “lost” identity in their culture (possible explanation of the rise in buddhism?) and yet they want to claim Christianity. they “pick and choose” and “filter” the information and formulate something of their own instead of adopting the whole system of doctrinal truth.

to be “more holy” is something that is also a trend of some sorts for people. to be a “sinner” is to be somewhat outcasted because of your friends Christian roots. the shame based culture mentality seems to prevail everything within a religion that teaches grace and forgiveness.

in that sense, i wonder sometimes if people really do believe that they are saved “by grace” and “rest” in that grace. it’s a contradiction that Christians face across the board because it seems to easy to simply “believe in Jesus” and you will find rest in him. people want to “do” to satisfy their own perceived short comings in the faith.

what are some of your thoughts on that? have people lost the gal. 3 aspect of Christianity? do you see that asian americans are “filtering” as a result of the post modern mind?

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