Chinese American Christians Are Becoming More Politically Engaged—and More Divided

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The 2020 race brings out generational gaps within the most undecided Asian American demographic.

Pastor Tina Teng-Henson, who co-leads a small, primarily Asian American church in the San Francisco Bay Area, recently preached about Jesus’ teachings on family from Luke 8. “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice,” Jesus says (v. 21).

Her reason for choosing this passage? “This is a really hard time for a lot of families,” she told me. “There’s a lot of stress and tension.”

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, of course, but a significant amount of that stress relates to the presidential election, which has split Asian Americans along generational and cultural lines.

While white evangelicals and black Protestants are voting relatively uniformly this year, with 78 percent of white evangelicals supporting President Donald Trump and 88 percent of black Protestants backing former vice president Joe Biden, the Asian American electorate, both inside and outside the church, presents a far more complex picture.

In Teng-Henson’s own family of devout Christians, there are Biden supporters and Trump supporters. Her Taiwanese-born parents believe Trump will better stand up to China’s aggression toward Taiwan; another family member is a devoted supporter of QAnon and Trump.

Teng-Henson herself was raised Republican but has moved politically left as an adult. “In the last 20 years I’ve become convinced that Democratic values that allow for personal decision making and support giving people the greatest political freedoms and opportunities to experience the generosity of our government are important,” she told me. “That leads me to support Democrats.”

Asian Americans are often overlooked by political …

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