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Religion and Ethnicity Among New Immigrants: The Impact of Majority/Minority Status in Home and Host Countries

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Research shows that religion continues to be an important identity marker for new immigrants in the United States. However, immigrant groups differ in the ways they integrate religious and ethnic identities and the emphasis they place on each. In this paper, we argue that majority or minority status of their religious affiliation in the home and host countries is an important, but overlooked, factor in understanding strategies concerning religious and ethnic identities. By comparing two Chinese congregations, a Chinese Buddhist temple and a Chinese Christian church in Houston, Texas, we analyze what happens when an immigrant group moves from majority status in the home country to minority status in the United States (Chinese Buddhists) and when a minority group (Chinese Christians in China) become part of the Christian majority in the United States. We conclude by arguing the importance of going beyond U.S. borders and taking into account factors in their home countries in attempts to understand patterns of adaptation of the new immigrants.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, Maine 04104-9300., Email: 2: University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204-3474., Email:

Publication date: 2001-09-01

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