U.S. News and WNET Explore Religion in America

May 6, 2002

Source: U.S. News & World Reports

On May 6, 2002, U.S. News & World Report featured a cover story on "Faith in America." It reported that the U.S. is the "most religious of the Western democracies, it also is becoming the most religiously diverse--and tolerant. Since the Immigration Act of 1965 eliminated quotas linked to national origin, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, and others have arrived in increasing numbers, dramatically altering the religious landscape of many communities. ... Though the numbers of non-Christians are relatively small--about 6.5 percent of the U.S. population--their visibility and influence are growing." The article continued, "The changing complexion of American religion already has worked its way into the public discourse. From President Bush on down, elected officials accustomed to lauding America's churches and synagogues now routinely include 'mosques.' At the White House and in some governors' mansions, ceremonies honoring Islam's holy month of Ramadan are increasingly commonplace. And Muslim and Hindu clerics have joined ministers, priests, and rabbis in offering opening prayers at legislative sessions and city council meetings--although not always without controversy." The lengthy article provided case studies of contemporary diversity, including Muslims and zoning in Atlanta, Japanese-American Buddhists in San Francisco, Jewish Identity in Washington D.C., and Hindus in the Bible Belt.