The Pew Research Center has released data indicating a decline in religious affiliation among Asian Americans.
Religiously unaffiliated: In 2012, 26% of the Asian American population reported being religiously unaffiliated, but this figure has now risen to 32%. A new Pew study released Wednesday revealed that the percentage of Asian American Christians dropped from 42% in 2012 to 34% today, while Buddhism decreased slightly by 3%. However, Hinduism and Islam saw slight increases, going from 10% to 11% and 4% to 6%, respectively.
Broader trend in the U.S.: This decline in religiosity reflects a broader trend in the U.S., where the percentage of adults with no religion has grown from 16% to 29% over a decade. Moreover, 40% of Asian Americans still express a sense of closeness to religious traditions, even if they do not identify with a specific religion.
Factors in the decline: The decline in religious affiliation among Asian Americans may be attributed to factors such as political influences, with some individuals feeling alienated due to political stances on issues like abortion, immigration and social programs. Younger Asian Americans born in the U.S. and who lean Democratic tend to be more religiously unaffiliated, with Chinese and Japanese Americans having the lowest rates of religious affiliation at 56% and 47%, respectively.
Family background and cultural ties: The way Americans define religion can also make it challenging to understand or measure Asian belief systems. The data indicates that many Asian Americans feel “close to” religious traditions for reasons such as family background or cultural ties.
For some Asian Americans, their traditions are seen more as philosophies rather than religions. This is particularly true for Buddhism, where 35% of religiously unaffiliated Asian Americans express a sense of closeness to Buddhism for non-religious reasons. Some also feel close to Christianity due to cultural exposure in the U.S., even if they do not identify with it as a religion.
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