Be'chol Lashon

Be’chol Lashon

Article Tools

Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation and Adhesive Identities

Fenggang Yang, University Park, Pa, The Pennsylvania State University Press, January 1, 1999
Christianity has become the most practiced religion among the Chinese in America, but very little research exists on Chinese Christian churches. This book explores the subject from the inside, revealing how Chinese construct and reconstruct their identity - as Christians, Americans, and Chinese - in local congregations amid the radical pluralism of the late twentieth century.

Today there are more than one thousand Chinese churches in the United States, most of them Protestant evangelical congregations, bringing together diasporic Chinese from diverse origins - Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Southeast Asian countries. Fenggang Yang finds that despite the many tensions and conflicts that exist within these congregations, most individuals find ways to integrate creatively their evangelical Christian beliefs with traditional Chinese (mostly Confucian) values. The church becomes a place where they can selectively assimilate into American society while simultaneously preserving Chinese values and culture.

Yang brings to this study unique experience as both participant and observer. Born in mainland China, he is a sociologist who converted to Christianity after coming to the United States. The heart of this book is an ethnographic study of a Chinese church, in Washington, D.C., where he became a member Yang draws upon interviews with members of this congregation while making comparisons with other churches throughout the United States. Chinese Christians in America is an important addition to the literature on the experience of "new" immigrant communities.