The Status of Hispanic Religion in the United States

plaza-de-armas in CuscoThe 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.

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