Last week we finished up the presentations on the case studies, my group was the last one to present. Our book is called God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing Religious Landscape by Peggy Levitt. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and sharing it with the class. Levitt interviewed many immigrants, more than we mentioned in our presentation, but they all had one thing in common. Religion was different for each of them, no matter if they came from the same country or not, their religious experience differed and this is the one thing that tied them all together.
As an immigrant, I was really excited to read this case and see the experiences of other immigrants. I moved here with my family when I was four years old from Venezuela and we found a home and a second family at our church. Some of the people in the book found new religions or new beliefs once they moved to the U.S, but many also kept the same religion and changed how they practiced. For my family we came to America as Catholics and remained Catholics. It was a stable belief in an otherwise unstable change. We left our families and the life that my parents had known and built, in order to live a better life. Like many of the people Levitt interviewed, we returned to our country often in the first few years of our move. We even returned to our church to see my cousins get baptized, but our roots were no longer there. We were and still are as the book describes “dual nationals”, concerned about our new community and our homeland as well. We returned and visited and we bring attention to the political climate of Venezuela and the inhumane treatment of its people. When you immigrate, or at least when I did, we left the country but the country didn’t leave us. That is still where my parents grew up and where many of my childhood memories were made, it’s still my home country. I really enjoyed reading this book and connecting with the people Levitt interviewed because I could relate to so many or see how their stories differed from my own. The story of every immigrant is different, but religion continues to be important for everyone, whether one is native born or an immigrant.