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Pew: Half of Asian Americans have connection to Christianity

Philippines Catholic festival

Emmanuel Rulona | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 10/16/23

While Asian Americans exhibit the same downward trend as others in regard to faith affiliation, most of them acknowledge some connection to Christianity, be it active faith or family history.

A new survey from Pew Research Center is gauging the rate of Christianity among Asian American communities. While the portion of those Americans of Asian origin who identify as Christian has fallen in recent years, a trend shared by most Western demographics, Christianity was still found to be the most common religion that Asian Americans reported some form of connection to.

Overall, it was found that 34% of Asian Americans say that their present religion is Christianity, a figure that has fallen from 42% the last time Pew surveyed Asian Americans in 2012. When broken down by denomination, Catholics showed the highest retention rate among Christian groups, and enjoyed the highest rate of identifying responses. In 2023, 17% of the Asian American adult population called themselves Catholic, which dropped only from 19% in 2012. 

The share of Asian Americans in Protestant communities currently stands at 16%, a 6-point fall from the 22% who called themselves Protestant in 2012. Pew noted, however, that this figure includes 10% who identify as born-again or evangelical Protestants, which fell from 13% in 2012. The Catholic faith was found to be the most stable of all Christian denominations within Asian American communities. 

While these portions of the Asian American population are all relatively small, there is another portion of 18% who responded that while they are not Christian they “feel close to Christianity.” This group, rather than being driven by faith, said they felt a closeness to Christianity because of family background and culture. Together with previous responses, it was determined that about half (51%) of Asian American adults acknowledge some connection with Christianity. 

When broken down by demographics, those of Filipino origins were by far the most likely to identify as Christian. Nearly three-quarters (74%) reported actively belonging to a Christian faith, while 17% reported feeling close to Christianity. Overall 90% of Filipino Americans reported some relationship with Christianity. 

Korean Americans were the next most likely group to identify as Christian, with 59% actively participating in a Christian denomination and 81% reporting some relationship with Christianity. In Korean communities, however, respondents were more likely to be Protestant, while Filipinos were more likely to be Catholic. 

The only other subgroup of Asian Americans in which the majority reported some relationship with Christianity was Japanese Americans (56%); however, only 25% of them claimed Christianity as their religion. Meanwhile the least likely subgroups to identify as Christian were Indian Americans (15%) and Chinese Americans (23%). 

See the full report at Pew Research Center.

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