Anti-affirmative action activists with the Asian American Coalition for Education protest outside the US Supreme Court Building on June 29, in Washington, DC (Photo: Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images via AFP)

By UCA News reporter

Oct 16 2023

Christianity remains the most common religion among Asian Americans despite an overall decline in the number of people following religions, says the latest Pew survey.

“Despite recent declines, Christianity is still the most common religion among Asian Americans,” said the survey report released by Pew Research Center on Oct 11.

According to the report, around 34 percent of Asian American adults identified their religion as Christianity in 2023, down from 42 percent in 2012.

Among the respondents who said they were Christians, around 17 percent were Catholics and 16 percent were Protestants.

One-tenth of Asian Americans were Buddhists and Hindus, while Muslims were reported at six percent.

Other Asian religious groups including Daoists, Jains, Jews, and Sikhs together made up around four percent of all Asian American adults.

Six Asian origin groups – Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese Americans – made up around 81 percent of the roughly 7,000 Asian Americans surveyed.

The survey also looked at the various largest subgroups within Christianity, both Protestants and Catholics. The result showed an overall decline in numbers in 2023, compared to the previous survey conducted in 2012.

For example, Protestants had declined to 16 percent in 2023 from 22 percent in 2012. The Evangelicals who were included within the Protestant subgroup also showed a decline to 10 percent from 13 percent for the same period.

“The Catholic share is more stable,” the report said.

Followers of Catholicism were reported to have declined from 19 percent in 2012 to 17 percent in 2023.

‘Closeness’ to Christianity among Asian Americans

The survey also analyzed how Asian Americans identify themselves as “close” to Christianity despite being non-adherent to any specific religion.

“Many who do not identify with a specific religion still say they consider themselves close to the religious or philosophical traditions that are common in their country of ancestry,” the report said.

Around 18 percent of Asian Americans, while not identifying as Christians, said that they feel “close to” Christianity “aside from religion” for reasons such as family background or culture.

“Combining this group with the share who say they are Christian, about half (51 percent) of Asian adults in the United States express a connection to Christianity,” the report said.

In total, 40 percent of Asian American adults express a connection to one or more groups that they do not claim a religious identity.

The survey also analyzed how Asian Americans identify themselves as Christians based on their country of origin.

Americans of Filipino (74 percent) and Korean descent (59 percent) surveyed were “especially likely to say their religion is Christianity,” the report said.

“When combined with those who say they feel close to Christianity aside from religion, 90 percent of Filipino Americans express some connection to Christianity, as do 81 percent of Korean Americans,” the report said.

The report also pointed out that most Filipino Americans were Catholic (57 percent). Meanwhile, Korean Americans were more likely to be Protestant (34 percent evangelical Protestants and 12 percent non-evangelicals).

Importance of religion among Christians

The survey also analyzed the importance of religion in the lives of Asian Americans.

The survey found that Asian American Christians are more likely (54 percent) to say religion is “very important” to them, compared to the overall percentage of Asian Americans who would say that.

“Much of the difference is due to the views of evangelical Protestants, who are more likely than other Asian American Christians to say religion is very important to them,” the report said.

For example, around three-quarters of Asian American evangelicals (73 percent) say this, but only half of Asian American Catholics and roughly one-third of Asian American Protestants, who are not evangelicals (32 percent), have such a view.

The church attendance among Asian American Christians also presented a similar pattern, the report said.

Around 55 percent of Asian American Christians say they go to church at least monthly. This was significantly higher as fewer people (29 percent) reported going to religious services as often.

Around 74 percent of Evangelical Protestants said they were most likely to attend service monthly or more.

About four in ten Asian American Christians (39 percent) said that they have an altar, shrine, or religious symbol used for worship in their home, which is on par with Asian Americans as a whole (36 percent). – UCA News