[CUA Office of Public Affairs]

Sept.7, 2000
Contact: Rosemary Harty

CUA Project on Immigrants and Religion Under Way

Washington, D.C. – With a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, researchers at The Catholic University of America have launched a comprehensive study of how religion affects the lives of immigrants in six ethnic groups.

An interdisciplinary team of the university’s Life Cycle Institute will spend the next two years observing and visiting Washington-area congregations for the study. Michael W. Foley, associate professor of politics, is the principal investigator on the project, "Religion and the New Immigrants: Congregations as Agents of Social and Civic Incorporation," funded by a $620,000 grant from Pew. Dean Hoge, professor of sociology and director of the institute, is co-principal investigator.

CUA’s project is part of Pew’s $5 million research initiative to examine the role of religion in the lives of immigrants in the United States. Grants went to scholars in seven cities that are gateways for immigrants.

The Life Cycle researchers will focus on the contributions of religious institutions to the development of individual civic and social skills among recent immigrants; the role of religion in promoting community involvement; and the participation of immigrant congregation members in community organizations.

"Religion has always been important to immigrants to this country," Foley said. "We want to examine how it contributes today to their integration as individuals, ethnic groups and religious communities into the life of our society."

Six groups will be studied: Muslims; immigrants from "the African diaspora," sub-Saharan Africa and the English-speaking Caribbean; Salvadorans; Koreans; Chinese; and Asian Indians.

Research assistants are members of the ethnic groups to be studied, so that immigrants can be interviewed in their native language. So far, the researchers have assembled a database of 640 churches, mosques and temples that serve a significant number of immigrants in the metropolitan D.C. area.

From that list, the research team will select congregations for further study, which will include observations and in-depth interviews.

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