Category Archives: demographics

Religiosity in Asian America: Spiritual Vitality, Secularism, and Racialization

Sat in parts of the Symposium on Religion in Los Angeles, a 2-day event jointly hosted by Cal State University Los Angeles and Claremont School of Theology. Fascinating conversations and presentations that exemplified the growing interest in the sociology of religion, and most of the presentations explored the inter-relationship of religions and ethnicities.

Russell JeungRussell Jeung, Associate Professor of Asian Studies at San Francisco State University, made an insightful presentation titled “Religiosity in Asian America: Spiritual Vitality, Secularism, and Racialization.”

With permission from Russell Jeung, we are grateful for being able to post yesterday’s talk online. Here’s the audio (mp3 – run time = 42:17) and slides from his March 6th presentation about Asian American religious affiliation >>

I thought slides #3 and #4 were most interesting, charting out the religious affiliation of Asian Americans, with respondents identifying as Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, other, none, or refused. These charts are very timely, as the major survey results by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life was just released last week, and has been highlighted in 300+ news articles. Several other conversations at the symposium responded and interacted with these Pew Forum’s extensive survey results. (also, see video overview about the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey)

Russell would very much like to get your feedback and thoughts about this presentation — please add a comment below.

future of interracial families and churches

Excerpted from the book Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne. These statistics give a preview of racial diversity within families (and potentially, churches) in the future::

According to Pew Research Center data from 2006, while the majority of interracial couples include a Hispanic, the most common type of interracial couple (at 14 percent) is a white man married to an Asian woman. Second, at 8 percent, is a black man married to a white woman. (Interestingly, white-Asian pairings are three times as likely to be white men with Asian women as the other way around; and black-white pairings are three times as likely to be black men with white women. Observers have commented on the lagging marriage prospects for black women and Asian men as a result — although those groups do not, as one might expect as a purely mathematical matter, seem to marry each other.)

Most Churches are Small Churches

Les Puryear did some excellent research on church sizes, noting the large number of smaller churches across denominations. Here’s an overview of what he found:

In the Episcopal churches in the USA, 59% of the churches have less than 100 members. 75% of all episcopal churches have less than 150 members. (Source)

73% of all Church of the Nazarene churches have less than 100 members. (Source)

Research Office statistics indicate only 28 United Methodist Churches fall into the megachurch category, with 259 in the very large church slot. 99% of UMC’s have less than 668 in attendance. Less than 5% of all UMC’s have over 350 in worship. To add further perspective, one half of the 36,085 UMC’s (1999 data) have less than 55 in attendance. (Source)

… the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), I asked the good folks at Lifeway to run a report for me to count the churches based on Primary Worship Service(s) Attendance in 2006. They very graciously attended to my request and sent me the following report:

1-99 attendees = 25,217 churches (62.7%)
100-199 attendees = 8,305 churches (20.7%)
200-299 attendees = 2,850 churches (7.1%)
300-499 attendees = 2,126 churches (5.3%)
500-749 attendees = 788 churches (2.0%)
750-999 attendees = 336 churches (0.8%)
1,000-1,999 attendees = 425 churches (1.1%)
2,000+ attendees = 139 churches (0.3%)

Total Churches = 40,186

Read the full post titled, “The Beauty of the Small Church – Chapter 1: Most Churches are Small Churches“. [ht: Chuck Warnock]

alarming statistics about American Born Chinese

According to this promotional video for the recent Render Conference (near Houston), less than 2% of American Born Chinese (ABCs) attend church here in the United States.

I’m not sure where that statistic comes from, as I do not know of a comprehensive study that documents this demographics’ church attendance, but if it is anywheres near accurate, and it may be in certain localities, it shows us the urgency of reaching this next generation.

What is your sense of how many American Born Chinese and/or next generation Asian Americans attend church?

amazing diversity all over America

From the 2004 issue of published by North American Mission Board, The world at our doorstep: where they live, work and pray ::

  • Among Americans age 5 and over, 47 million speak a language other than English at home (about 18 percent of the population)a growth of 47 percent between 1990 and 2000.

  • 4.1 million Muslims live in the U.S.

  • Muslim Americans tend to be heavily concentrated in Detroit, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Detroits population includes more Muslims than virtually any other U.S. city. McDonalds restaurants in the Detroit area now provide halal Chicken McNuggets for the growing population of Muslim customers there.
  • 2.5 million Buddhists live in the U.S.

  • 1 million Hindus live in the U.S. Another 100,000 live in Canada. Edison, New Jersey, has the highest concentration of Hindus in the U.S.

  • About a quarter million Sikhs live in America, with 100,000 living on each coast.  Other areas with high numbers of Sikhs are Chicago, Detroit, and Austin, Texas.

  • New York City has the largest Chinatown in the United States, with an estimated population in excess of 100,000, excluding undocumented illegal aliens. Counting the illegals could easily double that number.

  • Orange County in California has the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam at 233,000.

  • The largest concentration of Afghans is in Freemont, California.

  • The largest numbers of immigrants coming into Seattle are from the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea.

  • Vietnamese and South Koreans top the list of immigrants coming into the Atlanta metropolitan area.

  • Miami is the Latino capital of the United States with Latinos and Hispanics making up 57 percent of the Miami-Dade County population.

  • About half of all Arab-Americans live in five states: California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.  One of the highest concentrations of Arab-Americans can be found in Dearborn, Michigan, where roughly 30 percent of the population is of Arab descent.

  • Jews make up roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population. More Jews live in the U.S. than in Israel.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the worlds richest and fastest-growing religious movements. The Mormon church today has a worldwide membership of 11 million more than half outside the U.S. If current trends hold, Mormons could number 265 million worldwide by 2080, second only in number to Roman Catholics. Such an increase in membership may be attributed to an aggressive missionary program that enlists more than 60 percent of all young Mormons.

Sources: U.S. Census 2000; U.S. News and World Report, Special Collectors Edition, 2004; Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America by Mann, Gurinder Singh, et al; Reaching the World in Our Own Backyard by Rajendra K. Pillai, 2003; American Religious Identification Survey, 2001; Christian Science Monitor, October 7, 2002;;, April 26, 2003 and, December 29, 2003