The Asian American Christian

Growing up in a predominantly Caucasian town, my family was one of two Asian families in my church. I never felt like my Asian Americanness factored much into my religious beliefs. I had always felt welcome at my church, which had a reputation of leaning very liberal. (We had a gay pastor.) When I entered high school, I started to notice the significant amount of Korean Christians who belonged to Korean Churches. I saw their retreats and mission trips to Guatemala all over Facebook. Their church group looked like fun. This trend continued when I got to college and there were not one, but two Asian Church Groups on campus. I stopped going to church once I got to college, but some part of me thought I belonged in an Asian church. This Easter, I joined Bryn Mawr’s Barkada (Filipino Students Association) on an outing to attend Filipino Easter Catholic mass. I am not very connected to my own Filipino roots, so I was excited to experience my first Asian Church. Some church goers dressed like my Filipino grandaunts and the pastor had the same Filipino accent as my grandfather. To my disappointment, other than the majority of the congregation being Filipino and singing an occasional Church hymn in Tagalog, the Church service was just the same as any other Church service. I uncomfortably sat through the rest of service listening to a sermon where the pastor preached that we should pray for our pastor and rejoice in being Born Again Christians (I am NOT a Born Again). While I consider myself a non-practicing Episcopalian, Asian Christianity is actually on the uprise. I do not quite understand why so many Asian churches tend to lean right, but I am not the only one who has found this to be true.

I now realize I was mixing up my desire to be in an Asian affinity group with belonging to an Asian church. Asian churches are NOT affinity groups. There are some people who go to church for the community, but I cannot belong to a community if my ideology differs. Strangely, I think my visit to the conservative Asian church reaffirmed my belief in liberal Episcopalianism. Maybe I should try Buddhism next...