Religious Diversity and Community Volunteerism Among Asian Americans


should be addressed to Elaine Howard Ecklund, Department of Sociology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, 430 Park Hall, Buffalo, NY, 14260.


We examine whether religious membership and participation foster community volunteerism among a religiously diverse group of Asian Americans. We use data from the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey (SCCBS), the only data set that contains both a large, national sample of Asian Americans and detailed questions on religious and civic participation. Asian-American Protestants, Catholics, and adherents of non-Christian religions are involved in community volunteerism to varying degrees. Surprisingly, however, fewer Hindus and Buddhists volunteer when compared to the nonaffiliated. We use these results to propose theoretical concepts that take into account the impact of a religion's structure as well as the double-minority status faced by nonwhite and non-Christian Asian Americans on the likelihood of volunteering. Our findings indicate that accepted predictors of community volunteerism may operate differently among new nonwhite immigrants and their children than in the general U.S. population; this provides building blocks for future research on religion and civic participation among nonwhite and non-Christian populations.