Editorial

US Immigration and the Churches Relationship to Demographics

US Immigration
(Photo : by connecticutmag.com)

Immigration in the United States has a long and rich history that spans many different eras and demographics that were attracted to the opportunity and freedom that this country had to offer. No one can deny that the US is very unique in its ability to bring people from many different cultures and races together, but how the church meets this kind of diversity can be a challenge all on its own. Recently, the need for second language services had become more prevalent as churches realize the power behind teaching someone the Word of God in their native tongue.

Within the entire United States, 62.1% identify as White alone, 17.4% as Hispanic alone, 5.4% as Asian alone, and 13.2% as Black alone. These are the most prominent ethnic groups as of the most recent 2014 census information made available by the US Census Bureau. These groups are also only growing every year, as they show increases from the previous 2010 results, with the exception of White as declining. Each demographic has their own respective start in this country, and each have their share of conflict with the predominantly white population of the US. However, the church seeks to overcome these boundaries and see all people become a part of the network to build the kingdom of God.

The Chinese immigration began in the early 1800's during the gold rush in California. Their initial time in the US was not ideal, as they were mostly utilized for cheap labor to build the many railroads that would connect the western US in the early days of industrialization. This work was dangerous and had a high mortality rate, but it was often the only work that was made available to Chinese workers. Today, the west coast remains a population destination for Chinese immigrants, including San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.

The Hispanic population has always been a part of the United States since their westward expansion brought them into contact with Texas, which was part of the Mexican government before the US won it from them in war. With the border so close to this nation, immigration has always naturally occurred and also been a source of conflict. This specific demographics has been a part of national interest most recently since the early 2000's when illegal immigration became a concern of the American people, as 20 million foreign born Hispanics currently live in the United States as of 2014. Mostly residing in the southwestern and southern states of the country, they are also arriving with the promise of refuge from poor living conditions and environments from their home countries and to receive work and wages to support their families both domestically and abroad.

The ability of the church (of the Christian faith) in the US to meet the needs of these demographics shows a much different trend however. According to the Pew Research Institute, only 37% of people in the US identify as going to church on a regular basis. Only 44% of the Asian community believes in God, while the African American community leads with 84% saying that they believe in God. Both White and Hispanics believe in God at 61% and 59% respectively. Therefore, there are many within each population that do not believe in God, and with so few attending church, it can be concluded that many do not even have a basic understanding of the Bible or how to practice their faith.

Often times in America, the Christian faith is merely a cultural practice that identifies people according to their moral beliefs and traditions. With only 37% of the country attending church, these is so much room for evangelism. The second language services will also serve the needs of the demographics that are most in need, in particular the Asian community that only believes in God at 44%.