When the Bhutanese Refugees brought their Hindu beliefs to Iowa, they had no official place for them to celebrate. Instead, they make do with gathering in their homes. It’s a tight squeeze, but the sense of community makes it easier for the Bhutanese to breath. To live. But today, the Bhutanese Hindus are one of 15 different faith communities in Des Moines featured in the Drake Community Press’ latest book, A Spectrum of Faith: Religions in the World of in America’s Heartland.
One goal of this book is simply to make Iowans more aware of the rich diversity of religion in their state and how that diversity is a function of Iowa’s rich history of welcoming refugees and immigrants - Tim Knepper
After the fall of Saigon, the Tai Dam, an ethnic minority group from Laos and Vietnam, fled to Thailand for refuge. After facing the threat of displacement once again, the Tai Dam came together and wrote letters to each and every U.S. state governor.
The first to respond to the Tai Dam’s crisis? Iowa’s former Governor
Robert D. Ray. Not only was he the first to respond to the Tai Dam’s letters, but he made Iowa first to welcome the refugees to America.
Since then, Iowa has been a haven for most refugees: Vietnamese, Somalians, Bosnians, and Bhutanese. Each group brings relatively little with them, save for their religious beliefs. These communities welcome us to their places of worship, from a Hindu temple in a corn field to a basilica in the middle of Iowa’s capital city.