The expansive diversity of different religious establishments that can be easily found in Flushing reflect the scattered nature of its culture. Now, predominate religious institutions are founded and utilized by immigrant groups from China, Korea, India and the Middle East, but Flushing’s broad-minded acceptance of different religions dates back to the 17th century.
Religious tolerance is actually embedded in the foundation of Flushing’s history. In 1657, Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Netherland, forbade anyone in the colony to offer social acceptance to members of the Society of Friends, more frequently (and derisively) known as “Quakers”. Unable to exist in Stuyvesant’s colony (which was located in present-day Manhattan, Quakers found solace in Flushing, when 30 citizens of Flushing sent what is known today as the Flushing Remonstrance: a letter to Peter Stuyvesant admonishing him about the importance of religious freedom in shaping colonial law. In 1694, the Society of Friends set up their own establishment of worship on the Northern Boulevard, unfettered by Peter Stuyvesant’s prejudice.
From its very beginning, Flushing’s religious community has clearly thrived on variety and multiplicity. As a result, today the diversity of religious institutions extends far beyond the Quaker’s brown-shingled hall. There is an institution for pretty much anyone looking for a communal religion. Here are just a few of the religious institutions that can be found in this neighborhood:
(Note: More details on some of these places can be found in “Wok around Flushing”.)
Not only is there a huge amount of variety, but we found that the placement of some of these institutions was titillatingly incongruous, both culturally and thematically. Note that that this Korean church and Buddhist temple are squeezed between clothing stores and fast-food joints, among other places.