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Religion and the New Immigrants

Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations

Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz

New immigrants_those arriving since the Immigration Reform Act of 1965_have forever altered American culture and have been profoundly altered in turn. Although the religious congregations they form are often a nexus of their negotiation between the old and new, they have received little scholarly attention. Religion and the New Immigrants fills this gap. Growing out of the carefully designed Religion, Ethnicity and the New Immigration Research project, Religion and the New Immigrants combines in-depth studies of thirteen congregations in the Houston area with seven thematic essays looking across their diversity. The congregations range from Vietnamese Buddhist to Greek Orthodox, a Zoroastrian center to a multi-ethnic Assembly of God, presenting an astonishing array of ethnicity and religious practice. Common research questions and the common location of the congregations give the volume a unique comparative focus. Religion and the New Immigrants is an essential reference for scholars of immigration, ethnicity, and American religion. « less more »
AltaMira Press
Pages: 308Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7425-0389-2 • Hardback • May 2000 • $92.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7425-0390-8 • Paperback • October 2000 • $40.00 • (£24.95)
978-0-7591-1712-9 • eBook • October 2000 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Subjects: Religion / General
Helen Rose Ebaugh, Sociology Professor, University of Houston, received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1975 with specialties in organizational sociology and the sociology of religion. In addition to four books, she has published numerous articles in scholarly journals. She has been a faculty member at the University of Houston since 1973 and routinely teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in sociological theory, the sociology of religion and world religions. Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Professor of Sociology, has been at the University of Houston since 1971. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1969. Her most recent publications include an edited Handbook on the Sociology of Gender (1999), a review of feminist theories in Annual Review of Sociology (1997), and a paper on feminist theory and social change in Current Perspectives in Social Theory (1999). A life-long interest in immigrants, occasioned by the fact that all of her grandparents immigrated to the U.S., has finally found professional expression through joining Professor Ebaugh on this project.
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Hispanic and Asian Immigration Waves in Houston
Chapter 3 Center for Vietnamese Buddhism: Recreating Home
Chapter 4 Hsai-Nan Temple: Seeking to Americanize
Chapter 5 Chinese Gospel Church: The Sinicization of Christianity
Chapter 6 Houston Korean Ethnic Church: An Ethnic Enclave
Chapter 7 St. Mary's Catholic Church: Celebrating Domestic Religion
Chapter 8 Iglesia de Dios: An Extended Family
Chapter 9 St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church: Maturing through the Generations
Chapter 10 Iglesia Christiana Evangelelica: Arriving in the Pipeline
Chapter 11 Al-Noor Mosque: Strength Through Unity
Chapter 12 Jyonthi Hindu Temple: One Religion, Many Practices
Chapter 13 The Zoroastrian Center: An Ancient Faith in Diaspora
Chapter 14 St. Catherine's Catholic Church: One Church, Parallel Congregations
Chapter 15 Southwest Assembly of God: Whomsoever Will
Chapter 16 Environmental Impacts: Opportunities and Constraints
Chapter 17 Structural Adaptations to the Immigrant Context
Chapter 18 Providing for the Needy: Social Services and Immigrant Adaptation
Chapter 19 Reproducing Ethnicity
Chapter 20 Language: Cause for Unity and Conflict
Chapter 21 Passing it On: The Second Generation
Chapter 22 Is the Past Prologue to the Future
Chapter 23 Bibliography
Chapter 24 Index
Chapter 25 About the Contributors
This book's descriptive richness makes it an excellent resource for anyone interested in the place of religion in the lives of new American immigrants and for those engaged in general discussions about the importance of religion in shaping people's group identities in modernity.
Slavica Jakelic, (Boston College); Religious Studies Review

This is a strong contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of American religion. Ebaugh and Chafetz and their colleagues have boldly tackled the puzzling complexity of new immigrant religions—and managed to make sense of them. Their secret is combining close-up observations in a dozen congregations with a comparative focus that sorts out dominant themes and trends. Students of immigration will want to read this book to see what they have missed by ignoring religion. Scholars interested in religion will find it must-reading for their own teaching and research.
Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

Religion and the New Immigrants is a fascinating comparative ethnography, across nationalities and religious faiths, of the diversity and dilemmas of immigrant religious social life. It examines the functions of immigrant congregations for the reproduction of ethnicity. It also looks at the conflicts and contradictions these congregations engender as they seek to 'pass it on' to an Americanized second generation—who are more often alienated than attracted by the very features that fulfill their parents' needs. This unique and illuminating study will become a standard reference for future research in this field.
Rubén G. Rumbaut, (Michigan State University)

The Immigration and Reform Act of 1965 created a wave of immigration similar to the waves of the 19th and early 20th Century. Unlike those earlier waves, which were overwhelmingly from Europe, immigrants since 1965 are largely from Asia, Latin America, and the Arab world. Ebaugh and Chafetz, both Professors of Sociology at the University of Houston, have capitalized on their location in one of the major gateway cities for these recent immigrants to make this fascinating study of new immigrant religions. This is done in two ways, each valuable in itself, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts: The parts are thirteen case studies of immigrant congregations plus thematic chapters that analyze and compare. The result is thus richly descriptive but also theoretically fulfilling, a valuable contribution to the religion-and-immigration literature.
Phillip Hammond, (University of California, Santa Barbara)

[Its] arrangement makes for easy comparisons of congregations... The book provides illuminating insight into the inner workings of immigrant congregations, revealing the challenges they face as well as the communal support they provide. Recommended for undergraduates and above.
C. R. Pair, (California State University, Long Beach); CHOICE

It is impossible to understand the place of religions in the U.S. today if we ignore the role of the many and diverse congregations of recent immigrants. Taking advantage of a "natural laboratory" in the city of Houston, where nearly a quarter of the populace is foreign-born, Ebaugh, Chafetz and their research team provide us with informative vignettes of congregations of immigrant Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians, among others. This book is rich in comparative description, giving us a glimpse into the vitality of ethnic religiosity. Interpretive chapters add analysis of such important themes as women's roles, language conflicts, socializing the second generation, and the reproduction of ethnicity. This book is required reading for an appreciation of the enormous religious diversity that already exists in the United States.
Meredith McGuire, (Trinity University)

This book makes an important contribution to its field and should be required reading for anyone working or interest in the area. By its own admission, much work remains to be done. Even when this arrives, however, Ebaugh and Chafetz still sill have supplied a significant component and will have helped demonstrate the independent role of religion in the immigrant experience.
Peter Beyer, (University of Ottawa); American Journal of Sociology

Overall, these last seven chapters are the sociological heart of the book and make it a must read for anyone interested in the sociology of religion or immigrant population studies.
Kevin D. Breault and Alesia Pennington, (Middle Tennessee State University); Catholic Issues

Sociologists in general, and those interested in religion and immigration in particular, need a book such as Religion and the New Immigrants because it provides such an excellent overview of America's diverse religious landscape and the way new arrivals are transforming it....This book fills an important lacuna in the sociology of religion. It also advances the field by bringing to light so many questions that still need to be asked....In short, this is a valuable, engaging book that tells us a lot about the changing nature of the American religious landscape and points us in directions we still need to go.
Peggy Levitt, (Wellesley College); Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

this book is an excellent addition to research on new immigrants and religion and will most likely be consulted by scholars on the topic for some time.
Michael Wilkinson, (Nazarene University College, Calgary AB); Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review