Janelle Wong is an Associate Professor of American Studies and the Director of Asian American Studies at University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Her research focuses on race, immigration, and political mobilization. Dr. Wong is the author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. She is currently working on a book about the impact Asian American and Latino evangelical Christians will have on the traditional conservative Christian movement and immigrant political participation. Recently, PRRI had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Wong in depth about some of the 2014 American Values Survey’s findings on Asian Americans.
“It’s Beautiful,” a Coca-Cola advertisement shown during the Super Bowl, encapsulates American ethnic and religious diversity and has prompted reactions ranging from appreciation to outrage on social media. Some see the ad—which includes a same-sex family, people of many religions, races and ethnicities, and a bilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful”—as an inspiring representation of America’s diversity. Some conservative commentators took exception to the ad viewing it as an attack on traditional American values, voicing resentment that it features a non-English version of “America the Beautiful.”
A recent PRRI survey shows that growing religious differences between seniors, America’s oldest adults, and Millennials, America’s youngest adults, are dramatic.
More than 7-in-10 (71%) seniors identify as some type of white Christian, including white evangelical Protestant (29%) white mainline Protestant (23%), or white Catholic (17%). In contrast, less than 3-in-10 (28%) of Millennials identify as white Christian (10% white evangelical Protestant, 9% white mainline Protestant, and 6% white Catholic). Seniors are about three times more likely than Millennials to identify as white Catholic (17% vs. 6%). Conversely, Hispanic Catholics make up a much larger proportion of Millennials (10%) than seniors (3%). Among Americans under the age of 30, the majority (56%) of Catholics are now Hispanic. Another important religious difference separating seniors and Millennials is the number of each who identify as religiously unaffiliated. Nearly one-third (31%) of Millennials identify as religiously unaffiliated, compared to roughly 1-in-10 (11%) seniors. Millennials (13%) are also about four times more likely than seniors (3%) to identify as atheist or agnostic.
Although the Coca-Cola advertisement may have been controversial in some quarters, it is clear that the religious and ethnic landscape of America is changing to become less white, less Christian, and more diverse.