Most of the members of the Hispanic American community came from Cuba, Central and South America, Puerto Rico and various Spanish-speaking places.
The Hispanic community is made up mostly of Catholics. These days however, the number of Pentecostals is also increasing. They strongly believe that our health is a gift from God and that we should take care of it. It is a common practice to offer a prayer to prevent illnesses. They also wear religious medals and amulets or keep relics at home. They like visiting shrines and offering candles to different statues and pictures of Saints. The Latinos are well known for their unwavering faith and regular recitals of prayers.
Hispanics give high regard to their elders in the family. They respect them for their experiences and come to them for advice when they need one. When Latinos get sick, they go to their family members first and ask for support and care. They are very family-oriented and recommend safe and simple home remedies.
They also regard the man as the head of the family – the one who makes major decisions. Hispanics practice a strong sense of Paternalism but treat females equally. They deem women as sacred and they always protect them. They do this not because they believe that women are incapable, but because the solidarity of a Hispanic family depends on the well-being of the female.
Hispanics are very private people. They believe that personal matters should be handled only within the family. They highly value modesty and not just for women! They consider the area between the waist and the knees very private.
Some Latinos look down on people who are mentally ill. They often hide this information from people who know them and they also refuse to seek professional help.
The Latinos are known to extremely express their feelings. They want to be taken care of when they are sick because for them, it’s one way to show love and affection to their loved ones. Consequently, they may avoid preventive health care and often show up late in meetings.
Since most of them are Catholics, they refuse to follow birth control techniques other than the rhythm method. They consider plump bodies ideal and thinness as a health problem. They are not used to the idea of social workers and mainly rely on their family and friends for support.
The Census Bureau is a fortified witness to the growing Hispanic community in the country. It has been reported that the population count of the Latinos have risen from 22.4 million in 1990 to 18.9 million in 2001. Just imagine how much the number has increased today. With that in mind, anyone can probably assume that the Hispanics make up a huge part of the United States’ demography. Two of the reasons that were pointed out behind this rise are immigration and high domestic birth rates. A rough estimate would be, 58 percent of the people that make up the Hispanic community are born in the country.
Now about 93 percent of the Latinos, immigrants or domestically born, are Christians. Immigrants who come from 22 different countries are dominated by Catholics. Only 18 percent of these foreign-born settlers consider themselves as Protestants or non-Catholic. According to the records of the Census Bureau, Mexico comes second to Brazil when it comes to having the largest Catholic population in the world. In fact, this place is responsible for the large number of Catholic immigrants to the country. Coincidentally, it also brought the largest number of Protestant immigrants to the U.S. Both Catholic and Protestant immigrants from Mexico are responsible for propping the Catholic Church and Protestant congregations in the entire country.
As of today, the number of Catholic and Protestant Latino residents is continually growing. The Hispanic community in the U.S. is affiliated in various ways when it comes to religion. To explicate this further, here is a rough estimation of numbers based on the survey conducted by the American Public Life. 70 percent of the Spanish population is Catholic, 23 percent are Protestants or belong to other Christian sectors, 1 percent is involved in Buddhism, Islam or Judaism while 0.37 percent is atheist or agnostic.
Furthermore, 85 percent of those who identified themselves as Protestants are Pentecostals or evangelicals. 37 percent of the entire Hispanic community identified themselves as “born-again” or Catholic charismatics. It is said that when an individual identifies himself or herself as a “born-again” or evangelical, this means that he or she has had a personal conversion experience related to Jesus. In fact, this is considered to be the defining experience for those who call themselves evangelicals. They share their faith with others through missionary work and proselytizing. The Pentecostals, on the other hand, have a strong belief that the Holy Spirit still exists today.
The whole of the Hispanic community in the United States are very much into the Catholic Charismatic Movement. This movement is all about the spiritual change of an individual through Jesus Christ. The more traditional Catholics however, do not support this movement. They deem it as something like the “Protestant Trojan Horse”. Some even think of it as a form of defect for the Catholic Church. But regardless of what religious belief a Latin-American follows, they remain respectful of each other. All of these sectors are active in spreading the faith through social action programs. The truth is, forming these groups is an effective way to prevent the Latinos, especially the youth, from joining gangs.