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Asian Americans widely diverse in religious lives, study finds

July 20, 2012 |  8:56 pm

Asian Americans, a small but growing segment of the U.S. population, are widely diverse when it comes to religion, running the gamut from very religious to very secular, a new report shows.

The report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is one of the first comprehensive studies to examine the religious lives of the nation’s 18.2 million Asian Americans.

Among its findings:

Christians are the largest religious group among U.S. Asians at 42%. (By comparison, the U.S. population as a whole is 75% Christian.)

About 26% of Asian Americans -- the second largest group -- are unaffiliated with any faith. Fourteen percent are Buddhists and 10% are Hindus. Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and adherents of other faiths make up the rest.

The Pew report shows that national origin often plays a role in religious affiliation.

Most Korean Americans are Protestants, for example, while most Filipino Americans are Catholics. About half of Indian Americans are Hindu, and Buddhists form the largest share of Vietnamese Americans.

Chinese Americans, the largest Asian immigrant group in the U.S. with more than 4 million, are the most likely to have no religious affiliation: More than half are unaffiliated. And Japanese Americans are about evenly divided among Christians, Buddhists and the unaffiliated.

The report is the second to be based on a survey of 3,511 Asian Americans conducted by the Pew Research Center from January to March. Interviews were conducted in English and seven Asian languages.

The first report, released last month, examined the socioeconomic and political lives of Asian Americans and showed that they are the nation’s fastest-growing racial group. 

Both reports can be found online at the Pew Research Center's website: http://pewresearch.org/

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-- Rebecca Trounson

Twitter: @rebeccatrounson

 

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