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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter charts the religious lives of South and East Asian Americans during the era of Asian exclusion—from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the implementation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965—and those of non-Asians who adopted elements of Asian religions to shape new approaches to those traditions. Religious organizations provided immediate social aid and fellowship, leadership opportunities, and a connection to immigrants’ homelands. Religious beliefs provided strength to Asian immigrants by helping them cope with discrimination, while social realities in America reshaped many of those traditional beliefs and practices. White sympathizers reimagined aspects of Asian religions and utilized them in new ways. The chapter follows four major themes: adaptation of religious minorities from Asia, the experiences of Christian Asian immigrants, Asian American religious responses to discrimination, and the ways in which non-Asians were drawn to Asian religions prior to 1965.

Keywords: Asian Americans, immigration, assimilation, nationalism, racial discrimination, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, new religious movements

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