Religious groups often get a lot of attention during elections, but CNBC reports, Asian American and Pacific Islander faith-based voters often are forgotten.
AAPIs differ significantly from Black and White religious voters. White evangelicals tend to vote Republican and Black Protestant voters heavily lean Democrats, but AAPIs don’t fall into either category.
Janelle Wong, author of Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, says Asian American Christians are more conservative than Asian Americans in general, but are more liberal than White evangelicals. They align with Republicans on social issues such as abortion, but with Democrats on immigration, health care and race.
“AAPIs are a part of a diverse body of religious communities and it’s important to also be able to connect with those spaces…but they’re often overlooked,” said Helen Jin Kim Helen Jin Kim, a professor of religious history at Emory University’s Candler School.
Beyond Christianity, Asian American and Pacific Islander religious voters also identify as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others.
A 2012 PEW Study found that 73% of Asian Americans have a religious affiliation. They could be a key in deciding Tuesday’s Georgia Senate runoff race which will decide which party will control the Senate.
While just 4 percent of Georgia’s population, Asian American voters are already making a difference at the ballot box.
The David Perdue and Rev Raphael Warnock campaigns did not respond to CNBC about their outreach to Asian American religious voters. The Kelly Loeffler campaign deferred to the State GOP which did not directly answer the question. The Jon Ossoff campaign says its hosted dozens of AAPI faith based meetings throughout the year.
According to the Guardian, as many as 30,000 Asian Americans voted for the first time in the November election. That’s nearly three times the margin of victory of Joe Biden in the state.
“We are absolutely crucial in this race,” said Anjali Enjeti, who is mobilizing South Asian Democrats for Tuesday’s Senate runoff. “We turned out in 2020 at a rate higher – much higher – than we have historically turned out and we can absolutely help bring it home again,” he told the Guardian.
Rev. Byeong Han, a pastor at the Korean Central Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, supports the Democrats in the Senate race. He told CNBC, many religious leaders may be reluctant to get involved in politics.
“Since I came to this church, I encourage my congregation to do their voter registration and go to vote,” Han said. “I usually tell my members it’s not about politics. This is about citizens’ rights and responsibility.
“Asian Americans are very important in this election and beyond. So, let’s step up, not step back.”
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