“Immigration and the Changing Contours of Religious Pluralism in the United States” by Andrea Althoff

April 6, 2006

Source: The Martin Marty Center


On April 6, 2006 The Martin Marty Center ran an opinion piece by Andrea Althoff, a Senior Research Fellow at the Martin Marty Center. "In the United States today, Latin Americans, mainly Mexicans, constitute the largest number of immigrants, and this majority puts them at the center of debates regarding integration into U.S. civil society. Parties to these debates often regard immigrants' religions as an impediment to their integration, yet there are very few studies that cover recent immigration from a religious perspective. The role of religion and religious institutions for immigrant integration in the past is, by contrast, well documented. Research on immigration from Europe, for instance, underscores the fact that religious institutions have been among the most important resources for meeting the challenges immigrants face in a demanding and often threatening new environment. It is also manifestly the case that immigrant religions contribute to a pluralism that alters the American religious landscape. The term 'religious pluralism' would seem to suggest that Latin American believers profess a faith other than that of the majority of the population in the United States. But the population coming from Latin America is in fact predominantly Christian, indeed mostly Roman Catholic... Latin American immigrants' contribution to religious pluralism is therefore less about representing a completely different religion than a matter of inflecting the contours of Christianity in the United States."