In Their Own Words: Cultural Connections to Religion Among Asian Americans

In Their Own Words: Cultural Connections to Religion Among Asian Americans


Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on religion among Asian Americans, the largest nationally representative survey of its kind to date. In addition, to look more deeply into how Asian Americans think about religion, we arranged 20 structured, small group conversations (focus groups) and five in-depth one-on-one interviews with slightly more than 100 Asian Americans in total.

The participants represented a variety of Asian ethnic origins. Also, each participant had at least some connection to Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, Daoism (also called Taoism) or Shintoism.
In the conversations, many told us explicitly that they are part of these faith traditions when we asked them about their religious affiliation.
However, most respondents also described these traditions as being inseparable from the culture of their origin countries, their families or their communities. Ultimately, whether they identify with a religion or do not, participants tended to say they had at least some connection to a faith tradition as part of their culture.
‘For example, one religiously unaffiliated participant used the term cultural religion to describe her relationship with Confucianism and Daoism, explaining, “I call it ‘cultural religion’ because … I feel like I’m not part of an organized religion, so this is how I nebulously describe how I celebrate my culture in kind of a religious way.” 

Hinduism is a way of life. It’s not just a religion. So … who is anyone to say who is a Hindu and who is not when we ourselves don’t always do everything that Hinduism religion says to a T, right?”    – IMMIGRANT HINDU WOMAN OF INDIAN ORIGIN

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