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Attitudes on Religion

Compiled/Written by Murali Kamma Email Compiled/Written by Murali Kamma
August 2012
Attitudes on Religion

A recent Pew survey of Asian Americans (the “Rise of Asian Americans” study) generated debate among some Asian American activists, who were concerned about the effect of stereotypes. Is there anything in a new Pew study (“Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths”) that may set off certain observers? 

Well, according to the study, “the vast majority of Buddhists (75%) and Hindus (90%) say there is more than one way to interpret the teachings of their religion. By contrast, Asian-American Protestants—particularly evangelical Protestants—are more inclined to believe their religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life.” Most Buddhists (79%) and Hindus (91%) reject that idea and say that many religions can lead to eternal life or enlightenment. 

Though Christians make up only 3% of India’s population, 18% of Indian-Americans are thought to be Christian. The reason? Indian Christians tend to be well educated, and they migrate in disproportionate numbers. Note: Muslims (4% of U.S. Asians) weren’t included because the number wasn’t high enough for a separate analysis. 

While 57% of Indian- Americans think the freedom to practice one’s faith is about the same in the States and their country of origin, 33% think it’s better here. Only 9% feel it’s better in their country of origin. Most Buddhists (78%) and Hindus (73%) celebrate Christmas, though it’s also true that 95% of Hindus in the States celebrate Diwali. 

Only 32% of U.S. Hindus say religion is very important to them, as compared to 69% of Hindus in India. Nevertheless, Hindus have the lowest conversion rate (16%) among U.S. Asians. Roughly 82% stuck to the religion they were born into. Hence, it’s no surprise that Hindus have the lowest interreligious marriage rate (6%) among Asian Americans.

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