This book gives a good background on the religious experience for the Abrahamic faiths in the United States. The first point that I thought was interesting in the book was the emphasis on individualism in the community. Those who immigrate no matter what religion seek community. Especially refugees or asylum seekers, family is necessary, and religion offers that community in a new environment.
While the United States is a nation of immigrants, Yvonne goes as far to say that the United States does not bear the religion of immigrants. These immigrants who immigrated did not come to the United States to find a new religion, but instead grow and anchor them selves in the faith they already had. The idea that immigrants come with their own life, culture, and customs is one that should be heavily taken into account when we meet immigrants and develop policies. While it is important for immigrants to assimilate to the place in which they are staying, they should not lose their culture or religion as a part of that assimilation process.
While the book mentions the importance of community, it also touches on our generations shift from “doctrine” to “spiritual” practice. With a more doctrine religious base, there is more of an emphasis on attending church while the spiritual practice is about have an individual connection with God. This put the community at risk, as less people attend church services, the faith community slowly dwindles. Yvonne counters this by saying that this spiritual practice will in fact “awaken” the church, and bring new life. A new generation will revive the church and make it alive once again.
Finally, this book touches on how we must reconcile all of the religions in the world, and come together for the common good. Yvonne recognizes that some of these religions are very different, but thinks that we can still create creative solutions for our world’s issues. Yvonne even goes as far to say that it is religious belief that must inspire us, and having an ethical common denominator is not enough to inspire change. This book gives a helpful perspective into the lives of religious people’s immigration to the United States. With this perspective, we can create creative policies that would aid in the immigration process for many.
Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck, Jane I. Smith, and John L. Esposito. Religion and Immigration: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Experiences in the United States. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2003. Print.