Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life: Asian Americans – A Mosaic of Faiths

The Pew Forum on Religious and Social Life, a project of the Pew Research Center, has issued this report on Asian Americans and their religious affiliations, beliefs, and practices.  The report highlights the diversity among Asian Americans.  Christians are the largest religious group among U.S. Asian adults (42%), and the unaffiliated are second (26%). Buddhists are third, accounting for about one-in-seven Asian Americans (14%), followed by Hindus (10%), Muslims (4%) and Sikhs (1%). Followers of other religions make up 2% of U.S. Asians.

Not only do Asian Americans, as a whole, present a mosaic of many faiths, but each of the six largest subgroups of this largely immigrant population also displays a different religious complexion. A majority of Filipinos in the U.S. are Catholic, while a majority of Korean Americans are Protestant. About half of Indian Americans are Hindu, while about half of Chinese Americans are unaffiliated. A plurality of Vietnamese Americans are Buddhist, while Japanese Americans are a mix of Christians, Buddhists and the unaffiliated.

Asian Americans who are unaffiliated tend to express even lower levels of religious commitment than unaffiliated Americans in the general public; 76% say religion is not too important or not at all important in their lives, compared with 58% among unaffiliated U.S. adults as a whole. By contrast, Asian-American evangelical Protestants rank among the most religious groups in the U.S., surpassing white evangelicals in weekly church attendance (76% vs. 64%). The overall findings, therefore, mask wide variations within the very diverse Asian- American population.

The findings are based on the Pew Research Center’s national phone survey of 3,511 Asian Americans conducted from January-March 2012, in English and seven Asian languages.  The sample was designed to enable findings to be reported about each of the six largest country of origin subgroups (Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans and Japanese Americans) as well as about the Asian-American population as a whole.

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