Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America

Korean Protestants and Indian Hindus across Generations

280 pages

27 illustrations

April, 2010

ISBN: 9780814795866


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Pyong Gap Min is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of Research Center for Korean Community at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author or editor of several books, including Caught in the Middle: Korean Merchants in America’s Multiethnic Cities.

All books by Pyong Gap Min

2012 Honorable Mention Award, Sociology of Religion Section, presented by the American Sociological Association
2011 Honorable Mention for the American Sociological Association International Migration Section's Thomas and Znaniecki Best Book

Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America
explores the factors that may lead to greater success in ethnic preservation. Pyong Gap Min compares Indian Americans and Korean Americans, two of the most significant ethnic groups in New York, and examines the different ways in which they preserve their ethnicity through their faith. Does someone feel more “Indian” because they practice Hinduism? Does membership in a Korean Protestant church aid in maintaining ties to Korean culture?

Pushing beyond sociological research on religion and ethnicity which has tended to focus on whites or on a single immigrant group or on a single generation, Min also takes actual religious practice and theology seriously, rather than gauging religiosity based primarily on belonging to a congregation. Fascinating and provocative voices of informants from two generations combine with telephone survey data to help readers understand overall patterns of religious practices for each group under consideration. Preserving Ethnicity through Religion in America is remarkable in its scope, its theoretical significance, and its methodological sophistication.


  • “The book, based on Pyong Gap Min’s exhaustive study of Korean Protestant and Indian communities in the New York area, shows how these ethnic groups move in two different directions regarding religion and ethnicity: the Koreans tend to separate ethnicity and religion as they integrate into society, increasingly stressing the latter, while the Indians maintain their ethnicity through their Hinduism, although with looser religious attachments in the second generation.”

    —Religion Watch

  • “Pyong Gap Min here exhibits all the methodological skill and interpretive nuance we have come to expect from the foremost sociologist of Asian American religion. . . . The book is a tour de force, one that will cause us to re-evaluate several things we have long thought we knew about how religion shapes ethnicity and vice-versa. The writing is clear and jargon-free, and the narrative is rich in human detail.”

    —Paul Spickard, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • “A well-crafted comparative study of immigrant religious life and spiritual practices among Korean Protestants and Indian Hindus in the United States based on quantitative survey data and in-depth interviews. It advances a compelling theoretical account about the relationship between religious diversity and immigrant adaptation—a must-read book on the sociology of religion.”

    —Min Zhou, co-editor of Contemporary Chinese America: Second Edition

  • "Pyong Gap Min lives up to his stellar reputation as a pioneer and preeminent scholar of Asian American society...Min's latest book is a fresh take on the study of immigrant religions in the United States...This landmark study is sure to spur further research and become a foundatino for many ethnic studies, religion, and sociology courses in the future"

    —Karen Chai Kim, The Journal of Asian Studies

  • "A persuasive book...a fine piece of social science, and a positive contribution to our literature."

    —Rhys H. Wililams, Journal of Asian American Studies

  • "College and graduate students and their teachers who focus on the sociology of religion and ethnicity and Asian American studies will glean much from this work."

    —Jerry Z. Park, Sociology of Religion