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View Full Version : Buddhists and Hindus are on the rise nationally, Baylor University professor finds



wundermonk
20 May 2012, 02:15 AM
Story here (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/bu-bah050812.php).


Hindu and Buddhist groups have grown steadily in the United States since changes in immigration laws in 1965 and 1992, with particularly high concentrations in Texas, California, the New York Metropolitan Area, Illinois and Georgia, according to a Baylor University professor who helped compile the newly released 2010 U.S. Religion Census.

"Both Buddhists and Hindus, though still relatively small compared to the large Christian groups, have grown to the point that they are beginning to exert significant influence on the key issues that most affect their lives," said J. Gordon Melton, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of American Religious History with the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University, who was in charge of assembling the data on both groups.

The census, the most comprehensive statistical assessment of data from the 2,000-plus religious groups active in the United States, is made every 10 years by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. The complete summary may be viewed at this link: http://www.rcms2010.org/press_release/ACP%2020120501.pdf

Both Hindus and Buddhists have temples in most states, and "the groups now regularly voice their opinions on U.S. relations with predominantly Hindu and Buddhist countries," Melton said. "Like the Muslim congregations, Hindus and Buddhists are found in every part of the country, but they are concentrated in the big cities and still have not begun to appear in the smaller cities and rural areas."

Another significant finding was that all areas of American religion have grown, although specific groups — especially some of the larger Christian churches — have declined or stagnated.

Southern Baptists, whose ranks grew spectacularly for a generation as it became a national organization, decreased dramatically since the year 2000. United Methodist and Evangelical Lutheran membership also decreased.

Both Muslims and Mormons (Latter-day Saints) showed dramatic increases in percentages, the former from both immigration and penetration of the African-American community, the latter from movement out of its base in the Mountain states to all parts of the country. Muslims are distinct as the majority are of Indo-Pakistani background, the second largest group being African-American, with Arab Americans a distinct minority. There are now some 6 million Mormons and 2.6 million Muslims in the country.

Other findings showed that traditional patterns continue. The Baptist Bible Belt remains across the South, the older Reformation Protestant churches are strongest across the Midwest, Latter-day Saints dominate in the Mountain West, and Roman Catholics dominate in the northeast and southwest, including the southern third of Texas.

I hope the increase is not only due to immigration but also due to introspective realization of native Americans themselves - something that Lisa Miller's article (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/08/14/we-are-all-hindus-now.html) pointed out.

ShivaFan
20 May 2012, 01:27 PM
I know for a fact that this is trie, and no it isn't just due to immigration.

Many so-called Westerners are very interested and in fact involved, but no out to go door to door as some other belief systems. For example, one of my supervisors was a Hindu but I wasn't aware, until I noticed materials she had.

Recently, a new Hindu and Yoga center opened just a couple miles away, I have obsevered most who go are Westerners, and they cater to them.

Hindism is very popular and growing. It is a belief system focused on life, with a bright future in the United States.

Eastern Mind
20 May 2012, 01:50 PM
Vannakkam: One of the things that the immigration has done, in my opinion, and observation, is that the new Hindu centers are far more likely to say they are Hindu and bring along the Gods and temples. Hinduism in the Indian way is more common, and therefore accepted. At one time it was often hidden under other names like yoga.

An example is the Sivananda Yoga camp in Val Morin, Quebec. Originally started as a yoga retreat center by Swami Vishnudevananda, at one point he added a Hindu temple/shrine to Murugan. When the Sri Lankans arrived, there were no other temples built, so they flocked there, and started an annual kavadi festival, which now draws in the tens of thousands. At first I'm sure it was a shock to the western yoga types, but now they're probably used to the bhakti invasion that happens once a year, and as a consequence, more likely than before, to put 'Hindu' on any survey or census.

Aum Namasivaya

Jodhaa
20 August 2012, 05:46 PM
By chance I read an article out of "Hinduism Today" while volunteering at my local temple. Forgive me for not being able to reference the volume number - I didn't think to record it.

Anyway, the article addressed the phenomenon of "Hidden Hindus" in America. Basically, people who have converted privately, but for a variety of reasons don't feel ready to "announce" they're faith.

I think there may be more practicing Hindus in North America than the official statistics show. I think American converts may feel that Hinduism is close to their hearts and so they practice it, yet they may feel as though they don't "fit in" with those raised in Hindu households - and therefore they cannot formerly proclaim their faith.

It will be interesting to see if the numbers of Hindus and Buddhists continue to rise. :)

Seeker123
21 August 2012, 01:46 PM
Sure there are more Hindus in USA now than in 2000. Most cities have temples and the larger cities have many. If you go to the temples 99% who attend are Indian origin very few are Western. Perhaps Western Hindus don't go to temples - so hard to say if this rise is purely due to immigration or native Hindus - probably both with the former predominating is my guess.

I don't think American converts need to fear at all that they don't "fit in" with those raised in Hindu households. I go to a traditional Ashram where American converts do come and interact well. Of course they will always stand out because they are few in number but that should decrease progressively as in ISKCON groups.

On a different note I am interested to see the 2011 religious census figures from India. Based on estimates (number of vehicles with deities, marriage ads in papers etc.) I would put the Christian population in Tamil Nadu at 20%. 2001 census states it as 6%!! It should have definitely grown unless there are hidden Christians.

Jainarayan
21 August 2012, 02:39 PM
Namaste.


I don't think American converts need to fear at all that they don't "fit in" with those raised in Hindu households. I go to a traditional Ashram where American converts do come and interact well. Of course they will always stand out because they are few in number but that should decrease progressively as in ISKCON groups.

It took me a year to work up the nerve to go to a temple, fearing I would be unwelcome. That was far from the case. Actually now if I don't appear regularly for one reason or another, I'm asked if everything is OK, even by the priests. I even got a smile and a literal "thumbs up" by one of the priests when I wore a dhoti to temple.

Twilightdance
21 August 2012, 02:52 PM
Story here (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/bu-bah050812.php).



I hope the increase is not only due to immigration but also due to introspective realization of native Americans themselves - something that Lisa Miller's article (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/08/14/we-are-all-hindus-now.html) pointed out.

My impression is it is mostly demographics behind Hindu [not just immigration, but immigration & multiplication] growth.

Buddhism has more western takers than Hinduism, as those disillusioned by conventional religion [christianity in this case] find Buddhism offering the alternative.

But I think both of them are still very nascent in the west, and not yet suitably adapted for the west yet. Hindu or Tibetan Buddhist - both seem very alien to American way of life, and I doubt they will ever be mainstream.

Jodhaa
21 August 2012, 04:24 PM
Namaste.



It took me a year to work up the nerve to go to a temple, fearing I would be unwelcome. That was far from the case. Actually now if I don't appear regularly for one reason or another, I'm asked if everything is OK, even by the priests. I even got a smile and a literal "thumbs up" by one of the priests when I wore a dhoti to temple.


This was the case with me as well! When I miss a week, I'm always asked if everything is okay when I return. Everyone has been extremely welcoming.