Model Christians, Model Minorities: Asian Americans, Race, and Politics in the Transformation of U.S. Evangelicalism

“Just as you cannot understand the history of post-WWII evangelical Christianity without Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell, you cannot make sense of contemporary evangelicalism without accounting for Asians and Asian Americans. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Jane Hong Occidental College Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

This book project connects two developments that have reshaped the relationship of race, religion, and politics in America over the past fifty years: the demographic transformations resulting from the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and the rise of the Religious Right. Specifically, it considers how Asians and Asian Americans have changed U.S. evangelicalism from the inside out. Persons of Asian descent make up fewer than 3% of U.S. evangelicals but have had an outsized impact on evangelical institutions and communities. Since the 1960s, their growing presence has altered the everyday practices and policies of historically white evangelical organizations—from staffing and leadership to fundraising, engagement with broader societal issues, and even how they preach the Gospel. Asian Americans have also formed their own congregations, denominations, and parachurch ministries. Drawing from archival research and over fifty oral history interviews, this study explores how post-1965 Asian immigrants and their US-born children and grandchildren have changed Christian higher education, parachurch groups, church denominations, and faith-based political lobbies. Without their participation and support, many of these organizations would look very different. Others might have ceased to exist.

Given that multiracial and immigrant congregations are some of the fastest growing today, understanding the history and current place of Asian immigrants and US-born Asian Americans in U.S. evangelicalism is crucial if the U.S. Christian Church is to prepare for greater demographic changes ahead. And as Asian Americans themselves become more diverse, attention to ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational differences will become even more important.