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New York Glory: Religions in the City

Tony Carnes
Anna Karpathakis
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 440
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    New York Glory
    Book Description:

    Is New York a post-secular city? Massive immigration and cultural changes have created an increasingly complex social landscape in which religious life plays a dynamic role. Yet the magnitude of religion's impact on New York's social life has gone unacknowledged. New York Glory gathers together for the first time the best research on religion in contemporary New York City. It includes contributors from every major research project on religion in New York to provide a comprehensive look at the current state of religion in the city. Moving beyond broad surveys into specific case studies of communities and institutions, it provides a window onto the diversity of religious life in New York. From Italian Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, and Russian Jews to Zen Buddhists, Rastafarians, and Pentecostal Latinas, New York Glory both captures the richness of religious life in New York City and provides an important foundation for our understanding of the current and future shape of religion in America.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-9022-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface New York Glory
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Richard John Neuhaus
  5. PART I Overview
    • Chapter 1 Religions in the City: An Overview
      (pp. 3-25)
      Tony Carnes

      The three big headlines about the new New York are that the economy is booming, crime is way down, and the soul is back. The numbers of churches, synagogues, temples, and other religious institutions are growing at a record pace. Does anybody still really think that New York is just hard streets with no soul? Name a religion, look around, and you’ll find its believers in this city, sometimes a lot of them. Who would have ever thought that the late-twentieth-century migrations into New York would turn out to be pilgrimages of the soul? New York also is attracting one...

    • Chapter 2 The Religious Demography of New York City
      (pp. 26-38)
      Vivian Z. Klaff

      On a recent visit to New York City, I spent a few hours in a local library gathering a list of references concerning the historical development of the city and its specific religious groups. Most of the books about Catholics, Jews, various Protestant denominations, Eastern philosophies, and other religions are ethnographic case studies of a historical period, a specific neighborhood, or a unique institution or are stories about immigration and efforts at integration. I could not, however, find any book that systematically summarized the area’s religious composition.

      Public opinion surveys show that a high percentage of the American population believe...

  6. PART II Denominational Reorientations
    • Chapter 3 Continuity and Change in Episcopal Congregations in New York City
      (pp. 41-54)
      Robert Carle

      Despite sociologists’ expectations of a decrease in the significance of religion and of its replacement by scientific education and thought in urban areas, cities like New York are anything but wastelands of the sacred.

      In this chapter, I examine the recovery of the sacred among New York’s artistic and professional elites using as case studies three thriving Manhattan Episcopal churches.

      Despite its status as a minority faith, the Anglican (named Episcopal after the American Revolution) Church throughout its history has maintained a powerful civic presence in New York. Indeed, Trinity Church (Anglican), Wall Street, chartered in 1697, was colonial New...

    • Chapter 4 A Profile of New York City’s African American Church Leaders
      (pp. 55-73)
      Tony Carnes

      The late Benjamin Nelson, a sociologist at the New School University, once gave a remarkable presentation on the very simple question “Where do blacks get soul?” In the 1960s and 1970s, we had soul music, soul food, and declarations of possession of soul. Where did this large and central vocabulary come from?

      In the New York African American community, soul is the idea or feeling that no matter who you are, you are special and going somewhere better. A person is still special even if oppressed. In theDaily News, columnist Stanley Crouch mused about New York African American soul:...

    • Chapter 5 The Yoruba Religion in New York
      (pp. 74-87)
      Mary Cuthrell Curry

      From Catholic Cuba came Santeria (also known as The Religion, Lukumi, Anago, Candomble, or Xango) to New York, where it became the Yoruba religion practiced by former Protestant African Americans.¹

      In this chapter, I summarize the transformation of the Yoruba religion in New York City, based on four years of field research among a group of African American adherents in Brooklyn, during which time I participated in the religious activities of the Yoruba and conducted intensive interviews with several dozen leaders and members.

      The Yoruba religion is spreading in the United States as a result of recent Cuban immigration and...

    • Chapter 6 Hinduism in New York City
      (pp. 88-100)
      Ashakant Nimbark

      Recent trends in information technology and cross-continental diffusion have created some curious contradictions among the approximately 200,000 NRIs (nonresident Indians), living and working in and around New York City.

      This chapter is a part of an ongoing inquiry into what I call a trend towarddesecularization, or a return to old-fashioned religiosity, this time with the help of postmodern computer technology.¹ I have incorporated into my work nearly one hundred semistructured interviews of recently immigrated computer scientists and technicians both in and around New York City.² They represent a highly urbanized, educated, and affluent community paradoxically coming from a supposedly...

    • Chapter 7 New York City: The Bible Institute Capital of the World?
      (pp. 101-111)
      Paul de Vries

      Among New York City’s least-known but most distinguishing characteristics is the fact that it has probably the largest concentration of Bible institutes of any city in the United States, with more than seventy structured programs of biblical inquiry and ministry training for people with a high school education.¹ Although most of these programs are not accredited, they participate in the usual higher-education traditions—students pay tuition, engage in serious study, write papers, prepare for tests, receive grades, and are honored at graduation, much as students in an accredited college program do.

      In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American churches...

    • Chapter 8 Assimilation in New York City’s Italian Parishes
      (pp. 112-128)
      Mary Elizabeth Brown

      Parishes founded by Italians continue to exist in all five boroughs of New York City. Some, such as Saint Anthony on Sullivan Street, maintain an Italian identity through its feast day celebrations. In other cases, Italian American parishes have changed their identities over time; for instance, Holy Family, once an Italian parish in the East 40s, has become the parish of the United Nations (Andreassi 1999). Italian American Catholics’ most lasting legacy, though, may be the precedents they set for the pastoral care of later Catholic migrants.

      The Roman Catholic Church is organized on the basis of geographical stability. The...

  7. PART III Conversions and Religious Switching
    • Chapter 9 Orthodox Converts in New York City
      (pp. 131-147)
      Richard P. Cimino

      In East Greenwich Village as Father Christopher Cälin preached, an observer might have felt transported back to a Russian village, even though there were few elderly “babushkas” worshiping that evening. Instead, gathered around Cälin in the candle-lit sanctuary were about twenty-five young adults, who frequently crossed and prostrated themselves before icons during the long service. Through the darkness, one could see that the young, casually dressed women wore veils on their heads.

      “Saint Herman brought hard-core Christianity to America. It wasn’t watered-down. … It wasn’t suburbanized, pick-and-choose Orthodoxy,” preached Father Christopher Cälin during a Friday night service commemorating Saint Herman...

    • Chapter 10 The Religion of New York Jews from the Former Soviet Union
      (pp. 148-161)
      Samuel Kliger

      “I will consider myself a Jew until I am dead!” declared Svetlana, a recent immigrant from Kharkov, Ukraine. But Svetlana, sixty-three, also says that her identity does not include following Jewish customs or religious traditions. Rather, her identity is etched by others’ hostility into a defensive pride of being part of the Jewish nation. For her, then, being a Jew is “to support Israel in important aspects, but not in its ordinary life.”

      Former Muscovite Yuri, forty-six, agrees that being a Jew means “feeling compassion for the problems of Israel,” but having become an American citizen in 1992, he cautioned...

    • Chapter 11 Religious Diversity and Ethnicity among Latinos
      (pp. 162-174)
      Segundo S. Pantoja

      Religion offers Latinos, especially immigrants, a distinct arena in which to forge and maintain their community and ethnic identities. Religion brings together people of diverse national origins and helps them take advantage of opportunities both inside and outside their churches to preserve their heritages. Accordingly, parishes and congregations use “Latino” and “Hispanic” as ecumenical terms to unite diverse nationality groups in worship (Stevens-Arroyo 1995), to share beliefs, rituals, and practices that build communities and comfortable overarching identities.¹

      The emergence of an identity that reflects the multiple national origins and experiences of the U.S. society of people called Hispanic or Latino...

  8. PART IV Ethnic Diversification
    • Chapter 12 The Changing Face of Seventh-Day Adventism in Metropolitan New York
      (pp. 177-195)
      Ronald Lawson

      No other denomination in New York has a higher proportion of new immigrants than the Seventh-Day Adventists.¹ Over the past thirty years, the church has changed dramatically from a church of primarily Caucasians and African Americans to one that is now 90 percent immigrant. This chapter first explores the changes in metropolitan New York Adventism and then examines the competition to control leadership positions and resources as the racial/ethnic balance altered, asking why such conflict has been especially strong in Adventism.

      Although New York may be unusual in having such high proportion of immigrant Adventists, its experience points to a...

    • Chapter 13 Mormons in New York City
      (pp. 196-211)
      James W. Lucas

      Like Joseph Smith, the itinerant laborer from upstate New York who was the first prophet-president of their church, most Mormons in New York City have been transients.

      Despite this transience, the number of Mormons in New York City, although still minuscule in relation to the entire population of the city, has grown dramatically in recent years, increasing from 6,500 in 1990 to 17,000 at the end of 1998. This chapter describes these New York City Mormons and discusses some of the issues they confront at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

      I use the term “Latter-Day Saint” and its abbreviation...

    • Chapter 14 Malcolm X and the Future of New York City Islam
      (pp. 212-230)
      Louis A. DeCaro Jr.

      New York City is the lodestar of the development of Malcolm X’s religious identity and its conflict with the cosmology of the “Black Muslims.”¹ The constellation ofThe Autobiography of Malcolm Xis centered in New York City and points east to Mecca, the great spiritual ideal that rose for Malcolm in the twilight of his life. Today, the mosque he once led as a “Black Muslim” is home to a leading congregation, part of the growing presence of traditional Sunni Muslims in New York City. Furthermore, while a number of cities were important to Malcolm’s religious life, the development...

  9. PART V Religion as Therapeutic
    • Chapter 15 Black Churches as a Therapeutic Institution
      (pp. 233-245)
      Mary B. McRae

      The black churches in New York City function as therapeutic systems that provide healing, spiritual renewal, and interpersonal learning for their congregations (Moore 1991). New York City African Americans often “feel right” when they go to church, echoing the sentiments of the woman who told us, “If I didn’t go to church on Sunday morning, I wouldn’t feel right about going to the movies, going out.”

      A black church is a social system with boundaries, a hierarchy, subunits, and cognitive and emotional themes that sustain both the church and its members. The administration, choirs, clubs, and individual members need one...

    • Chapter 16 Cultural Crossroads in a Flushing Zen Monastery
      (pp. 246-259)
      Leah Davidson

      New immigrants from highly structured Asian religious cultures find it difficult to adapt to our pragmatic, Christian, nuclear family–centered values and cultural metaphors. Because such assimilations often take up to three generations to be completed, psychotherapeutic and religious syntheses may help ease the transition. Further, many Asian countries are currently adapting Western psychodynamic and psychoanalytic therapies to existing moral and religious philosophies such as Zen Buddhism and Confucianism (Rhee 1990; Tatara 1994).Western psychoanalysis, however, has been slow to address human differences rather than human similarities.

      The newer Western therapies stress the benefits of incorporating meditation and Zen Buddhism into...

    • Chapter 17 New York Neo-Puritans: Using Counseling to Overcome Stereotypes of Religion
      (pp. 260-268)
      Hannibal Silver

      Although New York City seems to be the antithesis of the Bible Belt, every week several thousand New Yorkers gather just around the corner from Bloomingdales at the evangelical Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Redeemer’s senior pastor, the Reverend Timothy Keller, says that his church has been careful to counteract the stereotypes of evangelicals with an atmosphere of “emotional warmth” that is “friendly to doubters” (Kirkpatrick 1993, 1). AsNew York Timesreporter Edward Lewine observed, “The 47-year old Mr. Keller has managed to make a pull-no-punches Christianity credible to his congregation by packing conservative theology in a non-judgmental style” (1998, 18)....

    • Chapter 18 Religion Class at Sing Sing Prison
      (pp. 269-284)
      Victoria Lee Erickson and H. Dean Trulear

      In the words of Mike, an inmate at Sing Sing State prison, religion classes “are a place of transformation for me.” Each year, New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) graduates a growing number of prisoners who, almost miraculously, seldom return to prison. Mike recalls, “It was a great turning point in my rehabilitation. The year at New York Theological Seminary was very important to me to not lose faith and that I could and would be redeemed from that sin of the past. Here I was a student—a person—and not just a convict. This is very important.”

      During one...

  10. PART VI The Religious Woman
    • Chapter 19 Latinas in the Barrio
      (pp. 287-296)
      María E. Pérez y González

      “Mama Leo,” otherwise known as the Reverend Leonicia Rosado Rousseau, is perhaps the first Latina Pentecostal pastor in New York City.¹ Since World War II, she has been a well-known dynamo against gangs and drug addiction, and her Damascus Christian Church in the Bronx has created more than seventy-five churches. Yet many in her church and the Puerto Rican community at first thought that her ministry was “too worldly” and “too social.”

      Today, quite a few Latinas in ministry are engaged in social actions that are deemed a type of heresy by many in the Protestant/Pentecostal² Latino religious community.Heresy...

    • Chapter 20 Orthodox Jewish Women Openly Studying the Torah
      (pp. 297-311)
      Mareleyn Schneider

      For those who think tradition is immutable, the idea of women studying Talmud and other texts in the original is scary and iconoclastic and has the potential to result in social schism.

      Although Scripture says, “And you shall teach them [Torah] diligently to your children [male and female]” (Deuteronomy 6:7), traditional teachers have been ambivalent about Jewish women learning Torah. For example, Ben Azzai stated, “A wise man is required to teach his daughter Torah.” But Rabbi Eliezer retorted, “Anyone who teaches Torah to his daughter is as though he taught her lechery” (Bialik and Ravnitzky 1992, 636).¹ Johnstone concluded,“Jewish...

    • Chapter 21 Congregation Beth Simchat Torah: New York’s Gay and Lesbian Synagogue
      (pp. 312-321)
      Helaine Harris

      It was the Kol Nidre service, the evening prayer service to usher in the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, Yom Kippur. New York City’s Javits Convention Center was filled to capacity with the largest gathering ever of gay and lesbian Jews from throughout the greater New York area, Germany, and even Israel. For some, it was their first time worshiping with the congregation. For others, it was a continuity of their Sabbath and Holy Day tradition—to pray with the only congregation in New York that was founded for the exclusive purpose of serving the gay...

    • Chapter 22 Feminists, Religion, and Ethics in New York City: The Roman Catholic Example
      (pp. 322-332)
      Susan A. Farrell

      Women are central to the continued existence of New York City’s religions because they not only give birth to the future generations of churches but they also socialize their children into their religious traditions.¹ In addition, women do much of the volunteer work that keep the churches going and the faithful mended. In more recent times, women have also become priests, rabbis, ministers, pastors, and theologians, although in many cases, women are the dissenters “defecting in place,” as one study of mainline denominations put it (Winter, Lummis, and Stokes 1995). In other instances, women remain staunch supporters of the status...

    • Chapter 23 Gender, Community, and Change among the Rastafari of New York City
      (pp. 333-354)
      Tricia Redeker Hepner and Randal L. Hepner

      New York City¹ is the largest “Caribbean city” anywhere in the world and likely claims the largest Rastafarian population outside Jamaica.² The sights andwordsoundsof Rastafari in the city echo the movement’slivity(lifeway) in many parts of the world while also representing new trends in the movement’s organization and institutionalization. Only recently have ethnographers begun examining New York City as central and historically significant to the rise of a Rastafari transnational social field. New York City has also been the site for local innovations in Rastafari belief, practice, and community building.

      The growth of Rastafari has created the...

  11. PART VII Politics in the Kingdom
    • Chapter 24 Voices of the Black Religious Community of Brooklyn, New York
      (pp. 357-373)
      Clarence Taylor

      Some historians have argued that cold-war hysteria and political repression marginalized black left radicals like Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois (Marable 1983, 204–206; 1991, 27–28), thereby removing a serious progressive force that might have moved black America to a left-of-center politics. Consequently, a narrow black nationalism rose to fill the void (Horne 1993, 442–443). Radical leadership was diverted into essentialist views of race like that espoused by the Nation of Islam. The black radical voice then was misshaped into an upside-down version of white supremacy and obscured the cross-racial impact of class inequalities. McCarthyism...

    • Chapter 25 The Greek Orthodox Church and Identity Politics
      (pp. 374-387)
      Anna Karpathakis

      Accusations of “Thief!” “Liar!”“Monster!” and “Dictator!” echo through the Byzantine domes of today’s Greek Orthodox churches in New York City.

      What is really happening in New York City’s Greek Orthodox churches? To answer that question, like all questions about Greek Orthodoxy, one must look at its history.

      Greek immigrants to the United States created their religious institutions with three goals in mind: (1) to transmit the Greek Orthodox religion to the American-born generations; (2) to transmit Greek secular politics, culture, history, and language to the American-born generations; and (3) to help new Greek immigrants adjust to American society and its...

  12. Conclusion: New York City’s Religions: Issues of Race, Class, Gender, and Immigration
    (pp. 388-394)
    Anna Karpathakis

    Two major visions of the centrality and primacy of religion form the bases of the chapters in the volume. There is the view that religion “possesses” a primacy of its own and belongs alongside the economy and politics as a “mega” institution, largely independent of lesser institutions. Religion impacts both the lesser institutions and institutions of its own import (e.g., economy, politics). There is the contrasting view that religion, as an ideological structure, is one of the many social institutions and exists only in relation to social space and time. To understand religion in its full complexity we must place...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 395-430)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 431-436)
  15. Index
    (pp. 437-440)