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Sustaining Faith Traditions

Race, Ethnicity, and Religion among the Latino and Asian American Second Generation

Carolyn Chen

Publication Year: 2012

Over fifty years ago, Will Herberg theorized that future immigrants to the United States would no longer identify themselves through their races or ethnicities, or through the languages and cultures of their home countries. Rather, modern immigrants would base their identities on their religions.

The landscape of U.S. immigration has changed dramatically since Herberg first published his theory. Most of today's immigrants are Asian or Latino, and are thus unable to shed their racial and ethnic identities as rapidly as the Europeans about whom Herberg wrote. And rather than a flexible, labor-based economy hungry for more workers, today's immigrants find themselves in a post-industrial segmented economy that allows little in the way of class mobility.

In this comprehensive anthology contributors draw on ethnography and in-depth interviews to examine the experiences of the new second generation: the children of Asian and Latino immigrants. Covering a diversity of second-generation religious communities including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews, the contributors highlight the ways in which race, ethnicity, and religion intersect for new Americans. As the new second generation of Latinos and Asian Americans comes of age, they will not only shape American race relations, but also the face of American religion.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

We would like to express our deep appreciation to all the contributors for their strong contributions, as well as to our editor at New York University Press, Jennifer Hammer. ...

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1. Introduction: Religious, Racial, and Ethnic Identities of the New Second Generation

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pp. 1-22

It’s like regardless of your race or background, everybody comes. You see—well, there’s not too many whites, [but] you know, we had that Bosnian guy, he came. And we have some African Americans, we have a whole lot of Arabs and people from the Indian subcontinent. We have an Indonesian guy who comes. . . . It’s just everybody comes together. ...

Part I: Religious Primacy

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2. The Diversity-Affirming Latino: Ethnic Options and the Ethnic Transcendent Expression of American Latino Religious Identity

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pp. 25-45

I was surprised how Jose, a 36-year-old third-generation Mexican American, described his background before coming to Mosaic, a multiracial church in Los Angeles. I had known Jose for several years as a faithful husband and gentle father, but the smiling man talking to me suddenly seemed unrecognizable from the person he revealed himself to be before arriving at Mosaic. ...

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3. Islam Is to Catholicism as Teflon Is to Velcro: Religion and Culture among Muslims and Latinas

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pp. 46-68

Early on in our research for a project on youth and religion, we stumbled on some intriguing empirical findings that we eventually made productive theoretical sense of.1 The serendipitous findings concern patterns of identification with religion and ethnic culture expressed in focus groups conducted in 1997 with two groups of college women, ...

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4. Second-Generation Asian Americans and Judaism

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pp. 69-90

With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the United States began and continues to experience profound transformations in its racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious landscape. While immigration during the pre-1965 era was primarily marked by individuals and families of White, European, and Judeo-Christian backgrounds, ...

Part II: Racialized Religion

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5. Second-Generation Latin@ Faith Institutions and Identity Formations

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pp. 93-112

The minister quoted in the epigraph, whose parents came from Puerto Rico after World War II, explains the complexity of being a second-generation Latino. He straddles two worlds but is also pulled to be deeply engaged in Hispanic ministries despite the challenges of doing so. ...

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6. Latinos and Faith-Based Recovery from Gangs

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pp. 113-132

Ramon is an undocumented 1.5-generation immigrant and a former gang member and drug addict. He became addicted to crystal meth, running “missions with his homeboys” and selling drugs with his uncle. However, at the time of my interview with him, he had been involved with Victory Outreach for three years and was a self-described “baby Christian.” ...

Part III: Hybridized Ethnoreligion

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7. Racial Insularity and Ethnic Faith: The Emerging Korean American Religious Elite

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pp. 135-155

Korean Americans are currently the fourth or fifth largest Asian group in the United States by population, but within the sociological study of Asian American religion, the Korean American case is clearly the dominant group of study.1 Through this one group, scholars have studied sociological theories and concepts that deal with contemporary immigration ...

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8. Second-Generation Filipino American Faithful: Are They “Praying and Sending”?

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pp. 156-175

Dolly, a petite first-generation migrant from Cebu City, worked long hours in two nursing jobs to afford sending her two kids, Kuya Karl and Shal, through Catholic elementary, middle, and high schools in San Francisco. The tuition and expenses were prohibitive, especially for a single parent, but receiving a Catholic education was a tradition in her family she intended to keep. ...

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9. Second-Generation Korean American Christians’ Communities: Congregational Hybridity

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pp. 176-194

Wherever Koreans settle in the United States, they invariably start an ethnic church or join and faithfully attend a preestablished one. Researchers have shown that the majority of Koreans regularly attend the 4,000 or so Korean churches every Sunday in the United States (Kang 2008; S. Kim 2009; Min and Kim 2005). ...

Part IV: Minority Religions and Family Traditioning

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10. Second-Generation Chinese Americans: The Familism of the Nonreligious

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pp. 197-221

Sophia, in the above quotation, discusses the Chinese tradition of visiting gravesites (jizu) to pay respect and offer foods to one’s ancestors. She plans to maintain this practice, even if she does not fully believe that the foods feed actual spirits. Instead, the offering of food is a sign of respect, a sign of family sacrifice. ...

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11. “I Would Pay Homage, Not Go All ‘Bling’”: Vietnamese American Youth Reflect on Family and Religious Life

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pp. 222-240

Many Vietnamese American families maintain a rich domestic religious life. Families often maintain home altars (ban tho) to venerate or memorialize Buddha, Jesus, saints, spirits, or ancestors. These spaces are often focal points in Vietnamese American homes, as the most respected domestic spaces. ...

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12. Religion in the Lives of Second-Generation Indian American Hindus

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pp. 241-258

After nearly half a century of immigration being open to predominantly Protestant Europeans, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 is one of the main reasons for the racial, ethnic, and religious diversity we have in the country today. The post-1965 wave of immigration—the largest in U.S. history ...

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About the Contributors

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pp. 259-262

Carolyn Chen is an associate professor of Asian American studies and sociology at Northwestern University. The author of Getting Saved in America: Taiwanese Immigration and Religious Experience, she has written extensively on religion, immigration, race, and ethnicity. ...


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pp. 263-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780814772898
E-ISBN-10: 0814717357
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814717356
Print-ISBN-10: 0814717357

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 801410555
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Sustaining Faith Traditions

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Religion.
  • Latin Americans -- Religion.
  • Asian Americans -- Religion.
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