|Asian American Campus Evangelism|
Hazarding an Interpretation of Asian American Evangelical College Students
By Rudy V. Busto
In James Sire's fictional account of freshman year at Hansom State University, Bob Wong, a Chinese American student from Mendocino, California is "born again" after a year of intensive prayer and prodding by his evangelical Christian friends. Born in Taiwan and raised in the United States, Bob Wong is caught between the Chinese Buddhist culture of his immigrant parents and his desire to "be rid of his Chinese roots." An avowed atheist when he arrives at Hansom State, by the end of freshman year Bob's newfound Christian faith presents him with one final challenge: facing his parents. "What to say? He knew he had to somehow begin to see them as his parents, to 'honor' them, to show this in a way they with their Chinese and Buddhist heritage would recognize. How was he to do this? He didn't know."
Lots of questions for Bob Wong. Sire's story intersperses the details of Chris Chrisman and his friends' freshman year with discussions of the philosophical traps of relativism, individualism and pluralism awaiting evangelical students in the college classroom. It comes as no surprise that Sire includes an Asian American character in his plot, as Asian American students in the 1990s have become central players in American evangelical Christianity. His characterization of Bob Wong -- hard working, philosophically tenacious, and troubled by his Asianness -- hints at larger issues about Asian American identity in the context of evangelical Christianity. This essay rephrases Bob Wong's question, "What to say?" about Asian American college students and ev angelical Christianity.
With a long history and numerous traditions, evangelical Christianity is one of the fastest growing religous/social movements in the United States. Depending on sources and definitions, evangelical Protestants comprise upwards of 20 percent of the nation's population; or somewhere between thirty to fifty million believers. As part of the late twentieth-century American spiritual reawakening since the 1970s, large numbers of Asian American college students are turning to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the encouragement and support of national and local prayer and Bible study organizations. On college campuses, evangelical "parachurch" organizations like Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), The Navigators, and InterVarsity Christi an Fellowship (IVCF) continue to draw large numbers of students to their weekly bible studies, prayer meetings, and social events. This vigorous, some would say aggressive Protestant Christianity, is very much at home on the college campus. In fact, evangelicalism and university students have shared a long history together in the United States, especially after WWII in the Youth for Christ movement that spawned a generation of influential evangelical leaders.
The current perception that large numbers of Asian American college students are evangelical and participate in parachurch organizations remains for the most part anecdotal. It is curious that Asian American Studies, focused so centrally on community studies and historical retrieval, has ignored the phenomenon of evangelical Christianity in Asian America. The lack of empirical data, interpretations, or even acknowledgement of evangelicalism among Asian American college students is glaring. In comparison, our scholarly understanding of religion in African American, Chicano/Latino and Native American history and communities is more advanced. This essay is a preliminary charting of this largely unknown research terrain and a call for systematic research and analysis of religious affiliation, beliefs and practices in Asian American communities. Without the luxury of available data or even a substantive body of writing on the subject of evangelical Christianity in Asian American communities, I will describe what I perceive to be salient and problematic issues, point out contextual issues, and hazard an interpretation for how and why Asian Americans are becoming increasingly associated with evangelical Christianity on the college campus.
The 1970s: Convergence in the Watershed Years
In the United States, parachurch organizations have operated at full speed on college campuses since the 1940s. The rapid growth of evangelical campus organizations in the 1970s was fueled by the personal spiritual vacuums left in the wake of cultural upheavals late in the 1960s and a generation of post-1960s university students in search of meaning and values on which to build their lives. For many students, campus Christian organizations introduced the ideology and lifestyle of evangelical Christianity packaged in the culture of youth and articulated by college educated leaders. Other students were drawn to the counter-cultural aspects of evangelical Christianity in the Jesus Movement and the growth of youth-centered local churches. The late 1970s witnessed a wider acceptance of evangelical Christianity in the country, exemplified by the election of an openly evangelical president in 1976, and an emergent evangelical identity and political movement in full swing by the early 1980s.
The 1970s also witnessed a dramatic increased presence of Asian Americans on college campuses. Asian American undergraduates almost tripled in number between the 1976-1986 academic calendar years (from 150,000 to 488,000). Because of this rapid growth, the 1970s saw a "natural" increase in Asian American involvement with both the large national parachurch organizations and local ethnic-specific "bible studies" and "fellowships." In response to an increasingly diverse college population, InterVarsity, for example, developed a series of "ABC" (Asian, Black, and Chicanos) conferences beginning in 1976 and experienced a membership boom in the 1980s producing a significant number of Asian American IVCF student leaders. Similarly, Campus Crusade for Christ launched an Intercultural Ministry in the mid-1970s.
Alongside the large national organizations, there are numerous local bible studies and fellowshiops that are often sponsored by local churches and are ethnic specific. The Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF) at Stanford, for example, grew out of a 1973 campus bible study group sponsored by the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society ministry at California State University - Los Angeles.
It is necessary, however, not to overstate the success of these ministries in the United States. The aggressive evangelism that took place in Asia after World War II was responsible for Christianizing an emigrant Korean and Chinese population. For example, Campus Crusade for Christ's 1974 "Explo '74" weeklong evangelistic and missions training event in Seoul, Korea, witnesses what was then the largest Christian gathering in Korean history (exceeding 1.3 million participants). With "almost all Protestant churches in South Korea, numbering some 12,000 congregations represented," Explo '74 explains in part the "miracle of the masses," that is, the dramatic growth in Korean Christianity from three million believers in 1974 to seven million in 1978. A good percentage of Korean American evangelical students in the 1990s, then, would appear to be the harvest of Campus Crusade's farsighted sowing as Korean immigration to the United States rapidly increased in the decades following.
In Karl Fung's account of the impact recently arrived overseas-born Chinese had in his San Diego church community during the 1970s, he reveals that they were markedly conservative theologically and eventually divided the traditionally liberal American- born Chinese Methodist congregation. These conservative evangelical immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan, Fung observes, came out of a history of intense conservative Christian foreign mission work and were strongly attached to the "absolute authority and clear direction" of evangelicalism in the wake of massive social upheaval after the communist takeover of China in 1949. Taken together, the Korean and Taiwanese demographic shifts towards an Asian American population primarily foreign-born, upper- and middle-class and already familiar with evangelicalism account for the "northeast Asian" flavor to Asian American evangelicalism.
Asian Americans and the Parachurch Organizations
In 1991 the New York Times reported that among the "dozens of surprises" discovered in the National Survey of Religious Identification (NSRI), was that Asian Americans overwhelmingly identified themselves as "Christian." The "surprise" of course is that contrary to popular assumptions and stereotypes, Asian Americans as a group do not self-identify as members or practitioners of (stereo)typical "Asian" religions. In fact, the NSRI indicates that among Asian American respondents, 33.6 percent affiliated with Protestant denominations, 27.1 percent indicated Roman Catholic, 19.1 percent "No Religion," and only 7.8 percent reported Buddhist or Hindu affiliation. (The real surprise here is how accurately Sire characterized Bob Wong as part of the 19.1 percent religious "nones"!)
Historically, Christianity is not recent to Asian American communities. Any account of Korean history, for example, would be incomprehensible without acknowledging Christianity's essential role in the formation of the modern state, or the centrality of the church institution in Korean American agitation for Korean independence. Similarly, the historical presence of Baptists, the Salvation Army, Presbyterian social work, and the YMCA in Chinese American history extends this long relationship between Asians and various types of Protestant Christianity back through the nineteenth century. Roman Catholicism, of course, has a centuries-old involvement in China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. Modern evangelicalism, in fact, arises out of the muscular Victorian Protestantism that accompanied American imperialism to Asia at the turn of the century.
The perception that Asian American students are currently disproportionately involved in InterVarsity and Campus Crusade for Christ appears to be well founded according to available information. Christianity Today reports that InterVarsity's seventeenth triennial conference on missions, "Urbana '93," "noticed a fundamental change in the makeup of the delegates" with nearly two-fifth of the 17,000 or so attendees ethnic minorities. Asian Americans represented over 25 percent of the conferees, and Korean Americans accounted "for nearly one out of ten conferees." Faith Kim, a longtime Korean American IVCF member, recalled that she was unable to find another Korean American delegate at Urbana '68, and interpreted the dramatic increase in 1993 as "the grace of God."
At the local campus chapter level, Asian American participation appears to corroborate these dramatic numbers. In 1991, Asian Americans reportedly made up approximately 65 percent of the three hundred student members in the UC-Berkeley IVCF chapter. As a national organization, InterVarsity's large numbers of Asian Americans in their ministry hints at equally high numbers in similar organizations, but may obscure the many campus and ethnic specific bible study groups operating alongside the large fell owships.
The relationships between the large, multiethnic national ministries and the smaller bible studies appears to be supportive, with friendly competition and coalition work reinforcing a common ideology. It is not uncommon for Asian Americans to participate in both the larger parachurch groups and the smaller ethnically specific fellowships. Mirroring the success of large non-race-specific parachurch organizations, for instance, the local chapters of the Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF) "has grown to involve several thousand students on a number of strategic campuses throughout the USA." As a "nondenominational" Christian ministry, the AACF affirms itself as "a movement to impact the university and collegiate community, primarily those who are Asian Americans, with the life changing message of Jesus Christ."
Similarly, across the country the MIT branch of the Berkland Baptist Church ministry promotes itself as
Founded in 1981 by Korean ministers, Paul and Rebekah Kim, the northern California based ministry now boasts a presence on six East Coast campuses under the name, Asian Baptist Students Koinonia (ABSK), as well sa "sister" churches in Los Angeles, Seoul, and Taegu.
One of the most puzzling aspects of these Asian American-specific-fellowships is the relationship between Asian American ethnicity and the ideology of evangelical Christianity that relegates ethnic difference to secondary importance; or as evangelical author Ada Lum writes, "God is far more interested in what is happening to us inside. Are we becoming more like Jesus Christ his Son? That is what counts in the end (Romans 8:29)."
The Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Christian Fellowship (HRAACF), for example, positions itself as a "sister fellowship" of the non-ethnic-specific Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship, "both of which draw upon the resources of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship." It is unclear from the HRAACF website how their evangelical universalist vision of drawing "people both individually and corporately into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through the transforming power of God's love and grace" is b uilt around a particularized mission of "a dynamic community of faith in Christ embodying the relevance of the gospel to Asian Americans..." (emphasis added). In fact, a sampling of Asian American-identified evangelical fellowship websites reveals mission statements targeting Asian and Asian American students for outreach and membership, while simultaneously affirming a non-race-specific evangelical identity.
This elision of ethnic specificity also appears in the document of the Chinese Christian Fellowship at Stanford (CCFS), and interdenominational group whose purpose is "to minister to Stanford students of Chinese ethnicity regardless of origin" and whos e members are drawn from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. To overcome the obstacles of national origin and language, CCFS offers its "coworkers" Bible studies in Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. Although the preliminary description of the organization is decidedly "Chinese," CCFS replicates an evangelical ideology that curbs an emphasis on the particularities of racial identity, and is virtually indistinguishable from any other evangelical organization in its core desire to "search for the relevance of God in the world today by investigating the Bible and sharing our joys and challenges with each other." In the CCFS website pages, racial affiliation (having overcome the obstacles of the diaspora) disappears. In matters of faith, "coworker" status is determined by one's relationship to Jesus, and not Chinese descent.
Asian American parachurch groups flourish as distinctively ethnic organizations, but with a theological twist. Because evangelicalism creates a new identity through conversion, the relationship between ethnicity and "born again" faith is unclear. At the level of organizations Asian American Christian fellowships follow a set of beliefs and practices common to any evangelical parachurch group. For the individual believer, however, the connection between Asian American identity and evangelicalism may be confusing. For non-believers, evangelical Christianity may be seen as a threat to ethnic identity and a move towards an unwelcome form of assimilation. Preliminary student opinion on the subject indicates that there is no consensus among Asian Americans on either the appeal of evangelicalism or its fit with Asian American identities and Asian cultures. One Michigan Asian American student, for instance, probably represents the position taken by many students suspicious of Christianity's association with Western imperialism:
Asian American evangelicals, on the other hand, report that being a Christian does not mean rejecting Asian American identity or Asian culture. One IVCF Chinese American staff worker involved with InterVarsity since the early 1970s explained that she came to a deeper understanding of herself as Asian American through the Pacific Alliance of Chinese Evangelicals and an IVCF Discipleship Training program that took her to Singapore. Other students find that evangelical Christianity reinforces "Asian " values of family, work, and education:
God's Whiz Kids? Spiritualizing Racial Politics
It is useful to consider how the model minority stereotypes provides a context for understanding the relationship between Asian American students and evangelical Christianity. The contestation (panic?) over the numerical presence of Asians on college campuses, and the perception that Asian Americans are disproportionately overrepresented in evangelical organizations may be more than coincidence. My suspicion is that campus Christian organizations, besides offering a supportive and familial structure for Asian American students, reinforces an upwardly mobile middle-class ethic consonant with the model minority image; an image Takaki reminds us results in Asian American students feeling pressured to conform to the image of success and caving into the denial of individual diversity. The model minority stereotype has also fostered anti-Asian sentiment on college campuses aimed at the fear of large numbers of Asian American students and the competition they supposedly represent.
As a standard of excellence for other minority groups to attain, the model minority image has trapped Asian American students inside a set of performance expectations. Evangelical Christianity only serves to reinforce this "whiz kid" stereotype with i ts strong morality and work ethic. In addition, Asian American evangelicals also appear to be stereotyped as God's whiz kids - exemplars of evangelical piety and action -- to which other evangelicals should aspire.
In their portrayal of Asian Americans evangelical Christians and organizations have embraced a religious verson of the model minority by promoting Asian American evangelicals as "spiritual giants" and aggressive evangelizers. One writer, for example, views Korean American evangelical students through such a lens. In his description of Korean American youth ministers, he not only confirms their whiz kid status, but employs them to chastise white believers and offers them up as morally superior members of the Asian American population:
As American evangelicalism adopts the model minority image of Asian Americans, the large numbers of Asian American students active in parachurch organizations only adds plausibility. Like Sire's depiction of Bob Wong, it is clear that at least some se ctors of evangelical Christianity perpetuate supposed Asian values of filial piety, obedience, and hard work as complementing traditional Protestant values. InterVarsity historians have already adopted this view and record that after the 1970s Asian Americans have become leaders in the triumphant propagation of evangelicalism across the nation's campuses.
A Retreat into Evangelicalism?
Asian Americans are indeed well overrepresented in campus evangelical parachurch groups. Asian American evangelical students also appear to follow a distinctly Korean and Taiwanese, post-1965 immigration pattern flavoring the character of these organizations. According to Hammond and Hunter, evangelical students at secular colleges maintain strong faith positions at the cost of stigma and constant challenges to their "minority" viewpoint. This minority status of one's convictions relative to the competing perspectives fosters a "fortress mentality" as the price for defending an evangelical world view. For Asian American evangelical students the "double whammy" effect of race and religion may in fact be very uncomfortable. As a result, evangeli cal parachurch groups may become safe havens against both racial antagonism and secular systems of thought. Espiritu's elaboration of how Asian American groups remove themselves from negative associations with stigmatized or problematic Asian groups through ethnic disidentification is potentially useful here, but there is no data to support such a strategy by Asian American evangelicals. The universalist message of evangelical Christianity certainly bolsters a type of "built in" dis-identification from non-evangelicals in general ("the world") prompting an alternative identity based not on race/ethnicity, but on faith.
Taking the theological call for Christians to be apart from the world (eg, I John 2:15), or more generally, "chosen" one step further, it may be helpful to think about Asian American evangelicals as part of a larger Christian "people" or "incipient ethnicity." Conceptualizing evangelical Christianity as "ethnicity" may account for the curious disappearance of "Asianness" in the discourse and practices of Bible study groups organized, paradoxically, by and for specific Asian groups. Evangelicalism as a common religious ideology and culture shared by a diversity of students in large parachurch organizations seems to function like ethnicity in supporting and protecting otherwise stigmatized brothers and sisters from outside political tempests and negative stereotypes. In addition, Asian Americans benefit where evangelicalism overlaps and coincides with dominant Amercan culture rendering them less foreign.
If religious affiliation mirrors the conditions and needs of ethnic believers (as Nattier suggests accounts for the large number of African Americans participating in "evangelical" Nichiren Buddhism), it is possible that the stereotyping of and expectations about Asian American students leads at least some of them to seek refuge in evangelical fellowships. I am not making a case for ethnogenesis and arguing that evangelicalism operates as a new or alternative ethnicity for Asian American students. The suggestion that evangelicalism operates like ethnicity is intended only to provoke discussion. That is, thinking about Asian American evangelical Christianity in the language and categories of ethnicity helps illuminate the relationship between ethnic association and religious affiliation.
More Questions Than Answers
It is clear that evangelical Christianity will continue to attract large numbers of Asian American college students because it provides well structured and nurturing communities tailored for surviving the anxieties, alienation and liminality of the college experience. Until well-documented evidence is available, we can only speculate as to why some Asian Americans, and specifically Korean and Chinese American students, are more involved in evangelicalism in comparison with Chicano/as, Native Americans, African Americans, or even Filipinos and South Asians.
In an odd way, a comparison between Asian American evangelicals and the growing phenomenon of Christian athletes on campus may prove fruitful. The pressures placed on Asian Americans to excel academically may be compared to the college athlete's obligations to winning; or at least performing well. Negative stereotyping has also forced Asian Americans and athletes to share space at the center of admissions controversies over questions of quotas and admissibility.
A larger question that remains unexplored is the relationship between evangelical ideology, identity politics and especially gender issues. On the increasingly racialized college campus where Asian American students are imaged as competitive, overrepresented and culturally monolithic, evangelical organizations appear to function in contradictory ways: for evangelicals, as havens from the inescapable tempests over race issues; but from a non-evangelical viewpoint, as exclusionist, cliquish, conformist clubs that do nothing to refute stereotypes.
There is clearly a need for empirical study and research on Asian Americans (in their diversity) and their involvement with evangelical Christianity. As this essay has attempted to demonstrate, the larger contextual debates and contestation over Asian Americans in higher education, assimilation, and stereotyping must be taken into account when interpreting religion in Asian American communities. The caricatures of Asian Americans in evangelical writing have already proven the point. At this stage in our understanding of evangelical Christianity in Asian American communities we remain with Bob Wong, with many as yet unanswered questions.
I would like to thank Judy Yung, Russell Jeung, Larry Padua, Belinda Fu, Liane Nomura, Irene Lin, David Yoo, Diana Akiyama, and students in my Asian American/Pacific Islander Religious Traditions Seminar, Winter 1995-96 for their observations and critical comments.
 An example of what evangelical faith entails is found in the MIT Korean Christian Fellowship (MITKCF) statement of purpose: "The purpose of MITKCF is to establish, assist, and encourage students who attest the Lord Jesus Christ as God Incarnate an d have these major objectives: To lead others in to a personal faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. To help Christians grow toward maturity as disciples of Christ through the study of the Bible, through prayer, and through Christian fellowship. To present the call of God to the world mission of the Church, and to help students and faculty discover God's role for them." [Online] World Wide Web: http://www.mit.edu:8001/activities/mitkcf/purpose.html (September 1995).
 One need only think of anthropology's focus on Native American world view, the centrality of the church institution in African American history, and more recently the boom in Chicano/Latino theology and Chicana expressive cultural production. The study of Asian American religious traditions has been eclipsed by the much larger study of and participation in Asian religions by European Americans.
 For background on the long history of evangelical student ministries, see, Peter Lowman, The Day of His Power: A History of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1983), Richard Quebedeaux, I FOUND IT! The Story of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), Robert Wilder, The SVM - Its Origin and Early Years (NY: Student Volunteer Movement, 1935); Wade Clark Roof, A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journ eys of the Baby Boom Generation (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993), 101-103. See Randall Balmer's discussion of Calvary Chapel in Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture of America (New York: Oxford, 1989), 12-30.
 Keith Hunt and Gladys Hunt, For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the U.S.A./1940-1990 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991), 353, 301; Quebedeaux, 160.
 Karl Fung, The Dragon Pilgrims: A Historical Study of a Chinese-American Church (San Diego: Providence Press, 1989), 111-112. Paul Ong, Edna Bonacich, and Lucy Cheng note that "Many of the new immigrants have been aligned with the United States and its military in [actual and potential] conflicts, and their political ideology, at least on arrival, is to the right of center." "The Political Economy of Capitalist Restructuring and the New Asian Immigrant" The New Asian Immigration in Los Angel es and Global Restructuring, Paul Ong, Edna Bonacich, and Lucie Cheng, eds. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), 29-29.
 Ari Goldman, "Portrait of Religion in U.S. Holds Dozens of Surprises" New York Times, Aptil 10, 1991, A11; Kosmin and Lachman emphasize that Asian immigrants represent a self-selectin process resulting in a Christian bias. They note that 60.7 percent of their Asian American respondents self-identified as either Protestants or Roman Catholics, and that "since the baptized elements of Asian societies and those who attended Christian mission schools tend to be most Westernized," Asian Christian i mmigrants outnumber non-Christian Asian immigrants (147-154).
 For examples of this relationship see, Artemio Guillermo, ed., Churches Aflame: Asian Americans & United Methodism (Nashville: Abington, 1991); Brian Masaru Hayashi, 'For the Sake of Our Brethern': Assimilation, Nationalism, and Protestant ism among the Japanese of Los Angeles, 1895-1942 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995); Check-Hung Yee, For My Kinsmen's Sake: A Salvation Army Officer's Quarter Century of Service in San Francisco Chinatown (Rancho Palos Verdes: The Salvation Army Western Territory, [1986?]).
 Hunt and Hunt, 319. IVCF claims that in the 1989-90 academic year, minorities constituted 25 percent of its overall membership (Tammy Blackard, "Race Relations: Campus Ministries Respond to Racism" Christianity Today, May 27, 1991, 62-63); wit hout survey or archival research however, the dynamics or even approximate numbers of Asian American evangelicals on campus (as well as which campuses) are unknown.
 Sunny Hyon, "The Gospel According to Asian Americans: Perspectives on Religion, Culture and Asian American Community," Symphony of Voices: An Asian/Pacific American Women's Journal 2 (Spring 1992), 40.
 The University of Texas at Austin Chinese Campus Christian Fellowship spells out this sober and puritannical faith in their general description: We strive to obey God's command to be holy and Christlike...We do not cheat. We are Temples of the Holy Spirit and we honor God with our bodies by not getting drunk, high on drugs, or abusing our bodies. We turn away from worldly passions, material extravagance, and selfish ambition. We give God our lives, money, and time...We honor our parents, gove rnments, and we obey all laws that do not conflict with God's laws. We work together with other Christians...to share the gospel, nurture, exhort, and encourage believers, oppose evil and guard against error... "General Description of ACCCF," Austin Chinese Campus Christian Fellowship [Online] World Wide Web: http://www.texas.edu/aaacf/#description.html (November 1995).
 Mark Senter III, The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry and Its Radical Impact on the Church (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 173. See also David Claerbaut, Urban Ministry (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992), 146-148.
 As the national parachurch organizations are forced to acknowledge racial tensions brought on multiethnic campus demographics, racial tensions are characterized as a Black-White issue. Campus Crusade admits that there is racism among its members , noting "a tendency for Christians to cluster together and ignore racism...we cover it up by saying 'We're all Christians'" (Blackard, 62-63). Asian Americans, predictably, serve as "good" models of evangelical leaders and disciples who are able to over come obstacles of race in their faith. InterVarsity historians are careful to note that Asians and Asian Americans have been involved with InterVarsity ministries since 1947 (Hunt and Hunt, 199). See also Ralph Reed's careful manipulation of Asian Chris tians in relationship to race issues in his politically conservative Politically Incorrect: The Emerging Faith Factor in American Politics (Dallas: Word, 1994), 235ff.
 Scholars of religion have long contemplated the role of religion in the construction of ethnicity. Rejecting a "hard" definition of ethnicity as necessarily biological or generational, religious affiliation seems to fulfill a number of "soft" cr iteria for ethnicity based on shared culture. Given the primordial qualities both religion and ethnicity share, it may be worth considering how close Balmer's characterization of American evangelicalism as a "subculture" skims along the edge of ethnicity . See Thomas O'Dea, "Mormonism and the Avoidance of Sectarian Stagnation: A Study of Church, Sect, and Incipient Nationality," American Journal of Sociology 60, 285-293; Armand L. Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (Urbana, Ill: University of Illinois Press, 1994); Mauss notes that the Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups includes religious groups among its entries (63). Another possibility is that evangelicalism serves as a type of "circuitous assimilation" through the creation of parallel institutions within ethnic groups. See Yusuf Dadabhav, "Circuitous Assimilation among Rural Hindustanis in California," Social Forces 33 (1954), 138-141.
 It is, however, tempting to consider Kitagawa's explanation that "much as the ancient Hebrew community came into being as the congregation (qahal) of various tribal groups, the Christian community from the beginning understood itself as the ekklesia (the Greek term for qahal) of various people (ethnai)..." Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa, The Christian Tradition: Beyong Its European Captivity (Philadelphia: Trinity International Press, 1994), 4.
 African Americans tend to form their own campus religious communities apart from larger interdenominational organizations. Larry Padua suggests that Filipino Americans are uninterested in these organizations in part because of their long association with American culture and their status as their US's "little brown brother," with "nothing to prove" as far as foreignness, patriotism, or willingness to assimilate (Personal communication, October 21, 1995).
 It is curious that athletes and Asian Americans are stereotyped in exactly opposite way regarding physical and academic abilities. See D. Stanley Eitzen and George H. Sage, "Sport and Religion," in Religion and Sport: The Meeting of Sacred and Profane, Charles S. Prebish, ed. (Westport, CT: The Greenwood Press, 1993), 79-117; Dana Y. Takagi, The Retreat from Race: Asian-American Admissions and Racial Politics (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 177-181.
 Non-Asian students on the Stanford campus that I spoke with associate IVCF and CCC with Asian American students. Among activists, progressive non-evangelical Asian American students, the tendency for evangelical students to shy away from campus politics is regarded as complacency and assimilationist.
 For example, see James and Lillian Breckenridge, What Color is Your God? Multicultural Education in the Church (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books/SP Publications, 1995), especially the chapters, "Examining Asian-American Cultures" and "Select Asian Groups"; and Leonard Tamura, "The Asian-American Man: The Model Minority?" We Stand Together: Reconciling Men of Different Color (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 61-78.Quote this article on your site