Pew Report: Asian-American Evangelicals Less Republican Than White Evangelicals

Asian-American evangelicals are mostly Republican and more likely to be Republican than other Asian-Americans, but less likely than white evangelicals to be Republican, according to a new report by Pew Research Center. The difference may have to do with different ideas about the role of government.

Forty-two percent of the sample of 1,599 Asian-Americans identified themselves as Christian and, of those, 40 percent said they were "born-again" or evangelical Christian.

While most Asian-Americans (52 percent) identify with the Democratic Party or lean to the Democratic Party, 56 percent of evangelical Asian-Americans identify as Republican or lean Republican. Evangelicals are the only religious group among Asian-Americans in the survey that are majority Republican. Among white evangelicals, though, 70 percent identified as Republican or lean Republican, 14 percentage points greater than Asian-American evangelicals.

Asian-American Catholics and mainline Protestants are about evenly split along partisan lines. Asian-American Catholics are 42 percent Republican or Republican leaning and 41 percent Democratic or Democratic leaning. Asian-American mainline Protestants are 37 percent Republican or Republican leaning and 44 percent Democratic or Democratic leaning.

Asian-American Hindus are the most Democratic (72 percent), followed by Asian-American Buddhists (56 percent).

Pew Research Center's 2012 Asian-American Survey, one of the most comprehensive survey's of Asian-Americans, was announced Thursday in a conference call with reporters and on its website.

Dr. Janelle Wong, director of Asian American Studies at University of Maryland and an adviser for the survey, noted that the gap between Asian-American and white evangelicals on Republican identification may have to do with their views about the role of government.

When asked, "if you had to choose, would you rather have a smaller government providing fewer services or a bigger government providing more services?," 71 percent of white evangelicals chose smaller government with fewer services, but 51 percent of Asian-American evangelicals chose bigger government providing more services.

"This is a sharp divide between white evangelicals and Asian-American evangelicals, even though Asian-American evangelicals tend to have some higher indicators of religious devotion," Wong said.

Asian-American evangelicals are also less likely to describe their political views as conservative (45 percent) than white evangelicals (61 percent), but they were the most likey of all Asian-American religious groups to say they are conservative.

On views about homosexuality and abortion, Asian-American evangelicals were about the same as white evangelicals. Sixty-five percent of Asian-American evangelicals said homosexuality should be discouraged by society and 64 percent of Asian-American evangelicals said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

In another difference between white and Asian-American evangelicals, Asian-Americans were 23 percentage points more likely to say that their religion is the one, true faith than white evangelicals (72 to 49 percent). And, they were 10 percentage points more likely than white evangelicals to say there is only one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion (53 to 43 percent).

While Asian-American evangelicals were about as likely as white evangelicals to say that religion is important in their life (79 percent) and that they pray daily (72 percent), they were 12 percentage points more likely to say they attend worship services at least once a week (76 to 64 percent).

The survey, conducted Jan. 3 to March 27, included 3,511 interviews, including 728 Chinese-Americans, 504 Filipino-Americans, 580 Indian-Americans, 515 Japanese-Americans, 504 Korean-Americans, 504 Vietnamese-Americans and 176 American Asians of other backgrounds. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.