Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Pigeonholing Asian American Christians

 by Lisa Gulya


Tags: Spirituality, faith, conservative Christians, Asian Americans, Asian Week,

Paco Church, Manila, Philippines“Most Asian American Christians are conservative,” begins Bruce Reyes-Chow in Asian Week. Reyes-Chow describes the similarities between “traditional Asian values” and conservative Christian values, both of which esteem hard work, the family before the individual, and obedience to the authority of elders. “If this does not describe you as a person of faith,” Reyes-Chow writes, anticipating his detractors, “please save the hate mail for another day.” He promises a taxonomy of progressive Asian American Christians in a June issue of Asian Week

His generalizations set off a storm of comments. In a response to the article, Calvin Chen wrote that Reyes-Chow oversimplified the situation, failing to "distinguish between theological, cultural, and political conservatism." Chen attempted to offer a more nuanced reason why Asian Americans Christians might be thought of as more conservative:

Theologically, Asian American Christians are overwhelmingly conservative (evangelical or fundamentalist) because liberal Christianity has little to no evangelistic drive and Asians are not historically Christian — therefore Asian Americans who are Christian are recent (relatively speaking) converts to a theologically conservative faith.

Image by Shubert Ciencia, licensed under Creative Commons.