The future of Catholicism among the Latino community in the U.S. is certainly changing. Nearly one-in-four Hispanic adults (24%) are now former Catholics, according to a major, nationwide survey of more than 5,000 Hispanics by the Pew Research Center.
The Pew Research Centers 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion finds that:
- A majority (55%) of the nations estimated 35.4 million Latino adults or about 19.6 million Latinos identify as Catholic today.
- 1 About 22% are Protestant (including 16% who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical).
- 18% are religiously unaffiliated.
In 2010, the Pew Research polling found that fully two-thirds of Hispanics (67%) were Catholic.
That means the Catholic share has dropped by 12 percentage points in just the last four years, using Pew Researchs standard survey question about religious affiliation.
In addition, the Pew survey confirms that Latinos are joining Protestant churches and are becoming religiously unaffiliated.
- 63% of former Catholics who are now unaffiliated
- 57% of former Catholics who are now Protestants say that “they stopped believing in its teachings” and they give this reason for having left the church.
But what are the reasons why Latinos are changing their religious views?
- 31% say they found a congregation that reaches out and helps its members more.
- 55% say they just gradually drifted away from the religion in which they were raised.
- 52% say they stopped believing in the teachings of their childhood religion.
- About one-in-ten (9%) say that marrying someone who practices a different faith was an important reason for leaving their childhood religion.
The change, however, has occurred primarily among Hispanic adults under the age of 50, and the patterns vary considerably among different age groups.
The report supports the theory that U.S. Latinos are shifting their religious identity outside the Catholic Church.