Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Religion and Social Justice For Immigrants

Religion and Social Justice For Immigrants

Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 256
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Religion and Social Justice For Immigrants
    Book Description:

    Religion has jumped into the sphere of global and domestic politics in ways that few would have imagined a century ago. Some expected that religion would die as modernity flourished. Instead, it now stares at us almost daily from the front pages of newspapers and television broadcasts. Although it is usually stories about the Christian Right or conservative Islam that grab headlines, there are many religious activists of other political persuasions that are working quietly for social justice. This book examines one segment of this group-those working for equitable treatment for immigrants in the United States. Bringing together thirteen essays by social scientists and one theologian, this book analyzes the different ways in which organized religion provides immigrants with an arena for mobilization, civic participation, and solidarity. Contributors explore topics including how non-Western religious groups such as the Vietnamese Caodai are striving for community recognition and addressing problems such as racism, economic issues, and the politics of diaspora; how interfaith groups organize religious people into immigrant civil rights activists at the U.S.-Mexican border; and how large Catholic groups advocate governmental legislation and policies on behalf of refugees. In an era marked by xenophobia and a new sense of nationalism that equates foreigners with terrorists, non-governmental advocates like those described here are especially crucial in fighting for the well-being of newcomers to this country. This book provides a compelling new look at this new social function of contemporary religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5825-7
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. PART I Diverse Approaches to Faith and Social Justice for Immigrants

    • 1 Religion and a Standpoint Theory of Immigrant Social Justice
      (pp. 3-15)

      Religion has jumped into the public sphere of global and domestic politics in ways that no social theorist could have imagined fifty or a hundred years ago. Religion, after all, was supposed to die as modernity flourished. Instead, it now stares at us almost daily from the newspaper, but it is usually the extremist fundamentalisms of the Christian right or conservative political Islam that grabs the headlines. Meanwhile, religious activists of other political persuasions remain active outside of the pews and prayer halls, working quietly in numerous social justice campaigns in the United States and elsewhere around the world. This...

    • 2 Liberalism, Religion, and the Dilemma of Immigrant Rights in American Political Culture
      (pp. 16-32)

      The story of millions of people coming from various old worlds to the promise and potential of a new world is built deeply into American national mythology. Sometimes the narrative emphasizes the Anglo-Saxon origins of the pilgrims, the founding of the city on the hill, and the spread of the newly formed American culture out of New England. Other times the focus is on the waves of new immigrants that traveled through Ellis Island and other points of entry to new lives and middle-class prosperity in an industrializing nation. The recent counternarrative involves the millions of ethnic and racial minorities...

  5. PART II Religion, Civic Engagement, and Immigrant Politics

    • 3 The Moral Minority: Race, Religion, and Conservative Politics in Asian America
      (pp. 35-49)

      In Flushing, Queens, John Park often appears as a one-man voter registration campaign, and quite an effective one at that. As the president of the Korean American Community Empowerment Council, Park has registered nearly 4,500 people since he began the organization in 1998. His strategy: setting up a table at one of the community’s many Christian churches. Park has visited over seventy-five churches and views these religious institutions as the best recruiting grounds (Nealon 2002). Such grassroots efforts have contributed to united voting blocs that have had significant effects in recent elections. With a population that is overwhelmingly Asian American...

    • 4 Finding Places in the Nation: Immigrant and Indigenous Muslims in America
      (pp. 50-58)

      Linking religion to issues of social justice for immigrants seems to rest on two assumptions: first, that immigrants are seeking social justice, and, second, that religion helps integrate immigrants into the nation and achieve social justice. Most of the immigrants thus envisioned are undocumented or poor, and most of the religious movements reaching out to them that have been studied are Christian. Muslim immigrants in the United States, however, do not conform to this pattern. Muslim immigrants are one of two major groups of American Muslims, the other being indigenous African American Muslims. Despite their very different histories, these two...

    • 5 Faith-Based, Multiethnic Tenant Organizing: The Oak Park Story
      (pp. 59-73)

      On a bright San Francisco morning in the fall of 2000, an unlikely group emerged laughing from an ornate skyscraper.¹ Among the three dozen assembled were undocumented residents from Mexico, a European American minister, Cambodian refugees, and a Taiwanese American city planner. They had just won almost one million dollars from their landlord in one of the largest legal settlements of its kind (DeFao 2000). In addition to winning monetary damages for forty-four households, the group’s victory transformed the complex into brand new apartments that are held permanently at affordable rents. Overcoming obstacles of race and class, the Oak Park...

    • 6 Bringing Mexican Immigrants into American Faith-Based Social Justice and Civic Cultures
      (pp. 74-90)

      Since the mid-1960s, immigrants to the United States have entered a social and political world with a legacy from the civil rights movements of African Americans and Latinos, farmworkers, women, and others that opened up American political culture to previously excluded citizens. Immigrants enter a world where, at least legally, there is an assumption of a liberal democracy that guarantees equality, opportunity, freedom of religion for all and voting rights based on citizen rights and obligations. But most immigrants come into the United States as precitizens and must wait to be fully naturalized as American citizens in order to fully...

  6. PART III Faith, Fear, and Fronteras:: Challenges at the U.S.-Mexico Border

    • 7 The Church vs. the State: Borders, Migrants, and Human Rights
      (pp. 93-103)

      Contemporary nation-states increasingly exercise their rights as sovereign nations to determine who crosses their borders. In recent years, the United States and Mexico have embraced this right by taking unprecedented steps to restrict the entry of unauthorized migrants by beefing up police activities along the border, strategies that have dire human consequences for journeying migrants. The U.S. campaign, which is officially known as “Prevention through Deterrence” was initiated in the early 1990s, in response to the failure of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 to curtail undocumented migration. Under the Prevention through Deterrence campaign, resources devoted to the...

    • 8 Serving Christ in the Borderlands: Faith Workers Respond to Border Violence
      (pp. 104-121)

      Religious congregations have been involved in providing multiple forms of assistance to immigrants for a long time. Not only are immigrants already familiar with the churches they come to join, but the churches and their congregations are perhaps some of the most supportive and welcoming institutions, particularly for immigrants who face extremely difficult circumstances. Many churches and congregations offer newcomers material and financial support, as well as legal counsel, access to medical care and housing, a lobby for less stringent immigration policies, and a welcome from the nonimmigrant coreligionists. To reach out to newcomers, churches conduct services in the languages...

    • 9 Religious Reenactment on the Line: A Genealogy of Political Religious Hybridity
      (pp. 122-138)

      Faith-based activists have adopted and embraced a liturgical calendar based on Catholic and Mexican traditions in order to underscore the connection between faith and commitment to social justice along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Posada Sin Fronteras, the Via Crucis del Migrante Jesus, and Dia de los Muertos are now celebrated at multiple points along the U.S.-Mexico border by ecumenical faith-based, binational groups, and in some spots in the interior (a Posada Sin Fronteras, for example, was held in Washington, D.C.). These collective reenactments, usually conducted in situ, in strategic sites along the border fence, constitute part of an expressive culture....

  7. PART IV Faith-Based Nongovernmental Organizations

    • 10 Welcoming the Stranger: Constructing an Interfaith Ethic of Refuge
      (pp. 141-156)

      The majority of organizations that resettle refugees in the United States are faith based. The religious affiliation of these organizations varies, from the large Jewish organizations that have been active in assisting refugees since the nineteenth century to the Protestant organizations who have come into resettlement within the past few decades. Although these organizations are grounded in different religious traditions, their staff describe the organizations’ missions in strikingly similar ways: showing hospitality to the stranger, providing refuge to the cast-out, and honoring the rights of human beings regardless of national boundaries.

      Using interviews, printed materials, and field observations from thirty-six...

    • 11 The Catholic Churchʹs Institutional Responses to Immigration: From Supranational to Local Engagement
      (pp. 157-172)

      In the last twenty years the United States has had its highest levels of immigration since the early twentieth century, with about one million new immigrants entering annually (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service 1999). Given these trends, immigration policy and immigrant adaptation have risen to the forefront of public debate in recent years, but little is known about how different religious organizations, many of whom do substantial grassroots work with immigrants, have attempted to influence public debates. This chapter addresses one particular religious tradition in the United States—Catholicism—whose public role in American civil society has been profoundly shaped...

  8. PART V Theology, Redemption, and Justice

    • 12 Beyond Ethnic and National Imagination: Toward a Catholic Theology of U.S. Immigration
      (pp. 175-190)

      Christian churches in the United States have ministered to immigrants for about a couple of centuries now,¹ and yet their pastoral effort has not been matched by the elaboration of a substantial and systematic theology of immigration. A Christian “theology of migration” is still at a germinal stage both in terms of its methodology and contents. Christian churches in the United States, both Protestant and Roman Catholic denominations, have abundantly reflected about the ethical, ministerial, and practical implications of the massive presence of immigrants within society and the church (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 1986, 1998, 2000, 2001; U.S. Conference...

    • 13 Caodai Exile and Redemption: A New Vietnamese Religionʹs Struggle for Identity
      (pp. 191-209)

      Caodaism is a new religious movement that was born in French Indochina in 1926 with a vision of religious unity and interracial harmony, formulated in contrast to colonial dislocations and repressions. From its inception, Caodaism has been preoccupied with seeking justice in this world and healing the wounds of colonialism, as well as combining the Asian spiritual traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism in a new and dynamic religious organization that borrows from Catholicism and the French and American constitutions. Its scriptures, or sutras, come from spirit messages revealed to mediums, so its practice offers the possibility of a more...

    (pp. 210-228)
    (pp. 229-230)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 231-242)