Seattle

Please note: While efforts have been made to verify the locations of religious centers and interfaith organizations maps may not always be accurate or up to date. For those centers without a physical address, a symbol appears at the city center. Read more about our methodology.

Seattle is known for its stunning landscape, nationally renowned coffee culture, and the “Seattle Sound” of grunge bands such as Pearl Jam and NirvanaIn religions of Indian origin, nirvana means “blowing out,” i.e. the cessation of greed, hate, delusion, attachment, and desire —all the fuel of rebirth. In Buddhist philosophy, it refers both to Truth of the “far shore,” and to th. state of gre.... The religious diversity of Greater Seattle in the twenty-first century is simply astonishing. It is home to more than a few dozen Buddhist centers, frequented by old and new Chinese and Japanese immigrants, by more recent Korean and Thai immigrants, and by Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian refugees. “First generation” American convert BuddhistsConvert Buddhism tends to refer to groups of Euro-American Buddhists that have converted to Buddhism rather than being born into the tradition. Generally speaking these Buddhists are focused more on personal and social transformation than their immigrant ... have also been active builders of the extensive new Buddhist Seattle. In addition to its many mainstream ProtestantProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists..., Catholic, and EvangelicalThe Greek word euangelion means “good news” and an evangelist is one who proclaims and shares the good news of Christ. Evangelism is the preaching and witnessing to that good news. Evangelicals are Christians who emphasize the personal experience of G... churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ..., there are OrthodoxIn general, orthodox means having a “correct opinion or outlook” and is a term used by people in many religions who claim authority for traditional views and forms of their religion. churches of every rite—Antiochian, Greek, Russian, CopticThe Coptic Church is the ancient and still vibrant church of Egypt, an autonomous Christian church which dates its origins to Mark the Evangelist in the first century. It continues to be led today by a patriarch called a Pope; its liturgical life is condu..., and Serbian. There are several Protestant churches with largely Samoan congregations; there are Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and Latino churches. Seattle is also one of the most vital centers of SephardicSephardic is an adjective used to refer to the Jewish culture which developed in Spain and the Mediterranean, in contradistinction to Ashkenazic Jewry, which has its distinctive roots in Germany and Eastern Europe. The culture and practices of Sephardic J... JudaismJudaism is the worldview, the way of life, and the religious practice of the Jewish people, living in covenant with God and in response to Torah, the laws and ethics which guide the pattern of Jewish life. Jews today interpret their three thousand year ol... in the United States. Its Muslim population is growing, as is the number of Hindus and SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... who have now made their home in the area. Seattle is proud of its multiculturalism, and many regard its new religious landscape as a natural outgrowth of recent patterns of immigration. However, a brief look at Seattle’s history reveals a far more complex story.

The totem poles of Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle stand as striking reminders of the long history and continued presence of Native AmericanEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp... peoples in this area. The first public statue in the city was that of Chief Sealth, leader of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes and the city’s namesake. The statue depicts Chief Sealth welcoming a landing party of Europeans in 1851. Today the legacy of that welcome is a bitter one for many native peoples. In 1854 when the U.S. government offered to buy this land and provide a reservation for Sealth and his people, Chief Sealth made an eloquent plea for respect for his people and their traditions; his words have become one of the most famous pieces of Native American oratory, although the authenticity of its various versions is a matter of considerable scholarly dispute. Chief Sealth is buried on Suquamish reservation lands, across the Straits from Seattle, beyond Bainbridge Island.

Today, it is estimated that Seattle is home to more than 12,000 Native AmericansEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp... (with many more in the metro area) from over thirty tribal affiliations, including the Duwamish, who have been seeking a reinstatement of federal recognition since 2001. A network of Indian organizations works to strengthen Native American identity, provide services and sponsor community events such as the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation which hosts each July the SEAFAIR Indian Days PowwowA powwow is a gathering of dancing, singing, drumming, and socializing that Native Americans generally consider to be more celebration than ceremony. Today they are a central expression of an intertribal Native American identity that complements tribal id..., drawing over 10,0000 spectators from across the United States and Canada.

Newcomers from Asia and the Pacific began arriving in the Puget Sound area more than 150 years ago. The demand for cheap labor first brought Native Hawaiians to Washington territory in the early 1800s, although most returned home after fulfilling their contracts. The first immigrant laborers to settle in the area were Chinese who came to work on the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the mid-1800s. The first Japanese immigrants came in 1879, and Sikhs from the Punjab followed in the early 1900s. Each of these groups encountered great discrimination in the Washington territory. In one instance, in 1885, 300 armed residents of Tacoma forced 700 Chinese onto wagons, left them at the edge of town, and then burned down the Tacoma Chinatown. In 1907, the Sikhs, called “Hindoos,” working in Bellingham fled in the middle of the night from a mob of angry and violent lumber workers. In the early 1940s, Japanese Americans lost their homes and businesses when they were forcibly “relocated” to internment camps in Minidoka, Idaho.

The Seattle area also has a history of offering refuge to newcomers. Russian, Polish, and German Jews fleeing anti-SemitismAnti-Semitism means literally “opposed to Semites” although it has always referred specifically to Jews. Modern anti-Semitism arose in Europe toward the end of the 19th century, coalescing social, racial, and religious theories that denigrated the Jew... settled in Seattle in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the late 1970s, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and tribal people from the Golden Triangle began putting down new roots here. The city has become so diverse that the downtown areas called Chinatown, Manilatown, and Japantown have now merged. The area is now called the “Chinatown/International District.” There, the newest immigrant groups have settled and started small businesses side-by-side with their predecessors. Their many languages and cultures are vividly displayed in the District’s summer festival at Hing Hay Park where Japanese Taiko drumming mingles with Vietnamese music, Laotian, Cambodian, Filipino and Thai folk dancing, Chinese drill teams, Asian American Jazz Bands, and traditional HmongAn indigenous people of Southeast Asia. needlework is on display.

Interfaith efforts in Seattle reflect the city’s long history of bringing diverse groups together. The Faith Action Network (FAN) is but one recent example, advocating for “a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world” with a network more than sixty congregations strong. Seattle University School of Theology and MinistryMinister is a general term for a member of the clergy in the Christian church. The term has also come to use in other religious traditions to designate a member of the clergy (as in the Jodo Shinshu tradition and the Nation of Islam). is also a key player in interfaith efforts, seeking to prepare theological school students for a religiously diverse world by hosting annual interfaith retreats and by engaging with the wider interfaith efforts in the city. Today, Greater Seattle gives students ample opportunity to consider how the City of Goodwill will live into its nickname given its growing multireligious reality.