The Hispanic population is often perceived as overwhelmingly Catholic but a new Pew survey finds that to be an increasingly false perception, with only about 55% of them identifying themselves as such, down from 67% in 2010, a remarkable drop of 12% in just four years. “About 22% are Protestant (including 16% who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical) and 18% are religiously unaffiliated.”
About 24% of them now identify themselves as former Catholics. Where have these disaffected people gone?
Some have become born-again or evangelical Protestants, a group that exhibits very high levels of religious commitment. On average, Hispanic evangelicals – many of whom also identify as either Pentecostal or charismatic Protestants – not only report higher rates of church attendance than Hispanic Catholics but also tend to be more engaged in other religious activities, including Scripture reading, Bible study groups and sharing their faith.
At the same time, other Hispanics have become religiously unaffiliated – that is, they describe themselves as having no particular religion or say they are atheist or agnostic. This group exhibits much lower levels of religious observance and involvement than Hispanic Catholics. In this respect, unaffiliated Hispanics roughly resemble the religiously unaffiliated segment of the general public.
I found this interesting because right wing politicians (at least those who are not hostile to minorities and people of color) view Hispanics as more receptive to their ‘traditional values’ appeals because of their supposedly higher levels of religiosity. What this survey suggests is that Hispanics are not that different from the rest of the population. For example, they support same-sex marriage by 46-34% and 40% say abortion should be legal or mostly legal, as opposed to 53% who think it should be illegal. Hispanics also solidly reject traditional gender roles in marriage, saying that “a marriage in which both husband and wife hold jobs and help take care of the children (79%) is preferable to a traditional arrangement where the husband is the financial provider and the wife takes care of the house and children (18%).”