Occasionally in trying to find what’s out there about Asian American Christianity, I’ll simply Google random terms.
Today I found Daniel Yang and what I like about him is that he’s got a life – a very cool, tech and design-savvy life. Plus he’s not a pastor, so the fact that he’s written a great paper on Asian American religion offers insight into what intelligent, professional, and non-clergy Asian Americans are asking and thinking re: church. It also helps that he has a great sense of aesthetics.
Here’s the link to his paper and the following are some notable bullets [emphasis mine].
- Brian Hall suggests, “The nature of Buddhism allows room for Chinese young people who have been raised in Buddhist households to experiment or ‘dabble’ with Christianity and/or other religions.” In addition Min also states, “many non-Western religions do not put as much emphasis on participation in a religious congregation as do the Judeo-Christian religions.” These two factors of openness and lack of fellowship lead Chinese Americans and Korean Americans who are not already Christian to seek religious organizations that better fulfill a need in their ethnic identity development in America.
- Fenggang Yang’s dissertation on Religious conversion and identity construction in a Chinese church he notes, “New Chinese immigrants generally trust the educational system…they trust the economic system…However, they do not trust the media and entertainment industry for encouraging liberal moral values and unconventional lifestyles. These Chinese Christians choose evangelical Christianity because its value system fits their desire for order and success.”
- The churchgoers did not view themselves as accepting an Anglo-American tradition but rather values that are supposed to be universal. There is also strangely not much evidence of conflict or questioning of beliefs…. Antony Alumkal reconciles these facts in his dissertation Ethnicity, Assimilation, and Racial Formation in Asian American Evangelical Churches2, “A sense of cultural conflict can still be substantial even for the second generation. Combined with a sense of racial exclusion, this can produce a strong desire for a secure basis for identity, which evangelical Christianity can provide.” The function of the church in providing an ethnic identity is one of the biggest draws to Christianity for Asian Americans, and congregating results in community formation.
- According to an Ecklund and Park study6, “Religion gives Asian American immigrants opportunities for leadership and a sense of meaning and belonging, resources that help individuals overcome a deficiency in social status” while at the same time also providing “members of the second generation opportunities to sustain ethnic identity through maintaining networks with those who share a common national history.”
- overall the actual proportion of Asian Americans who volunteer is rather small for their socio-economic status. This might be attributed to the fact that Alumkal’s study 2 found that church members did not tend to think of other social issues that were not church related. The solution to this may be to open a dialogue with pastors to encourage congregation members to be more civically active in helping the community.