Send us your tired, your poor, your religious nutjobs….

% No Religion in Nation (WVS) / % No Religion for US Immigrants (GSS)

The study of immigration in sociology has generally declined in importance along with the plummeting political and social stature of immigrants. Studying immigration is uncool, because it’s demography. And, demography is uncool because it’s boring and  all of the cool people did poorly in it because they can’t count or pay attention for very long.  So, it may be ok to study immigrant culture, something different and unique and other. But May All The Jesuses Weep if one take to explaining social change with reference to simple demographic processes like migration.

Rachel McCleary was kind enough to include a chapter on religion and immigration in her Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Religion which was just published. Above are some odds ratios from that paper comparing the nation of origin to immigrants from that nation. One of the things that I show (following up on some things done in Alanezi and Sherkat 2008), is that immigrants to the US from European nations are far more religious than people who stay in the homeland. Germans are more than twice as likely to reject a religious identification than are first or second generation Germans immigrants to the United States, and this is true for immigrants from MANY nations. While a substantial fraction of Dutch, Germans, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Belgians, Czechs, Lithuanians, Brits,  and French hold no religious identification, first and second generation US immigrants from these nations are much more likely to have an identification than are their former compatriots. In contrast, immigrants to the US from highly religious non-Christians nations (or even predominately Catholic countries) are less likely to be religious than those in their home nations.

Why is the United States so religious and Europe is not? Well, for one thing, you motherfuckers have been shipping your god-damned religious nutcases to the United States for more than 400 years. Thanks, assholes.

6 Responses to “Send us your tired, your poor, your religious nutjobs….”

  1. James Sweet Says:

    What’s the time frame for when this data was taken? Specifically, does the data for Russia extend back to Soviet Union times?

    It just sorta raised a red flag that the nation with the biggest spike was the only one in the graph that recently practiced “atheistic” communism. If there were even fairly mild religious oppression going on in that country (unlike the phony religious oppression that Xians in this country are always on about) that would explain it.

    OTOH, I am pretty sure nobody is oppressing the religious in Germany or the Netherlands, and the ~2:1 ratios there is pretty striking.

    So the obvious follow-up question: What does the reverse like? For American emigration to the Netherlands, for example, I’d imagine the ratio would be far less than 1. Not only would that be interesting, but it would also show that it’s not just something like religious people like to switch countries more often or something.

    • sherkat Says:

      The Russian WVS data is taken from the 1990 and 1995-97 Waves of the World Values Survey, so it’s post commie. Immigrants from Russia can be anytime past 1977 in the GSS (first and second generation immigrants), so some of them were religious nutcases unleashed on us by those commie bastards. We are a nation of immigrants, and we always have been. Religious selectivity drives immigration–this is why you can get beef curry in many Indian restaurants! Even the friggin Easterners are Christianists….

  2. Tom Rees Says:

    Are they religious before they came or did you guys make em religious? Maybe immigrants take up religion as a marker of self identity or to integrate.

    • sherkat Says:

      No, you people sent them to us that way! Very few immigrants from Christian nations had no religious identification at age 16 (which is the way the GSS asks the question). So, at least in terms of identification, it appears like immigrants may choose the US because it is a wacko Christian nation. Or, that you people ship your wackos to the US. Same end result.

      It is possible that religious fervor is augmented by the immigration process, and as I say in that paper and in Alanezi and Sherkat (2008), religious agents are key brokers of immigration to the US. If you aren’t a Jesus Freak, you’re less likely to get in! So, why do we have all of these Indian Christians? Well, because they’re sponsored by religious organizations!

  3. Van Says:

    While part of it may be that Christians choose to immigrate over here, I suspect that another aspect is immigrants just want to blend in. If you live somewhere where everybody is Christian, it must be hard to resist the temptation to be one yourself. That’s what so funny about American Christians. They act like they’re taking some kind of principled stand when actually they are just going along with the crowd.

    • sherkat Says:

      I agree completely. That does happen, and it’s especially common for people from China and others from the far east. Notice what that implies, that people belong but do not believe. That is actually a modal orientation for many, immigrant, native, whatever. People belong to religious groups for social connections, family support, activities for the kids, social status in communities, and the like. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the supernatural rewards and compensators offered by the religious group, and they don’t believe the explanations peddled by the religious firms. In the United States, a large plurality of people belong but do not believe, and that is much higher than the percentage who believe but don’t belong.

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