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Models of Civic Responsibility: Korean Americans in Congregations with Different Ethnic Compositions

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Abstract:

This article compares different discourses of civic responsibility for Korean American evangelicals in a second-generation Korean congregation and a multiethnic congregation located in the same impoverished ethnic minority community. Those in the second-generation church define civic responsibility through difference from immigrant Koreans. They stress caring for members of their local community and explicitly reject their parents' connection of Christianity to economic mobility. Yet, they find relating to other minorities in their local community difficult because of an implicit belief that the economically impoverished are not hardworking. Korean Americans in the multiethnic church connect Christianity to valuing diversity. A religious individualism that is used to justify diversity also helps Korean Americans stress their commonality with other ethnic minorities and legitimates commitment to community service. These results help researchers rethink how new groups of Americans might influence the relationship of evangelical Christianity to American civic life.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00262.x

Affiliations: Elaine Howard Ecklund is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology, Rice University, MS-28, P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892., Email: ehe@rice.edu

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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