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The Case for Secular Assimilation? The Latino Experience in Richmond, Virginia

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Studies of 20th-century ethnic immigrant groups to the United States profile religion as a key factor in their assimilation into U.S. culture. Religious institutions provided immigrants and families with a safe haven where they could hold on to their ethnic identity, even as they and their children were mainstreamed into the larger culture. Changes in immigration law since 1965 have complicated somewhat the relationship between religion and assimilation. The variety of religious forms now present in the United States and the diversity of immigrants create new options as they seek to adapt to U.S. life. We look at the absence of religion as one of those options. The nonreligious paths chosen by some Latinos in Richmond, Virginia have implications for the way they become part of the community, especially in comparison to those who remain members of their religion of origin or who convert to U.S. faiths.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: H. B. Cavalcanti is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, James Madison University, MSC 7501, Harrisonburg, VA 22807., Email: 2: Debra Schleef is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Mary Washington, 1301 College Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA 22401., Email:

Publication date: 2005-12-01

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