Latinos Leaving the Church 

News: US News
by Paul Brock III  •  •  April 14, 2023   

The continuing rise of the 'nones'

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DETROIT ( - American Latinos are abandoning the Catholic faith at an alarming rate, according to a new study. In 12 years, the number of Hispanics identifying as Catholic has dropped 24 percentage points, going from 67% in 2010 to 43% in 2022.

 Jesse Romero

Likewise, Hispanics who are now "religiously unaffiliated" total a full 30%, up from just 10% in 2010. 

In sum, it was roughly the past decade wherein Hispanic Catholics in America went from about 7 in 10 to 4 in 10 while those who claim no religious affiliation has tripled. 

The study reveals the striking reality that "for every 23 Latinos who have left the Catholic Church, only one has converted to Catholicism." 

These alarming numbers put a serious dent in Catholicism at large, as the study makes abundantly clear: "Catholicism has seen the greatest losses due to religious switching among Hispanics." Most of these Hispanics (65%) were raised Catholic, but many "switch away from their childhood religion," the study noted. 

Catholic author and speaker Jesse Romero, who is also a member of the 43%, tells Church Militant the reason for this religious switching has a lot to do with Hispanics being "subjected to a 'values clarification-moral relativist' education in our public schools from Kindergarten to College."

72% of Latino Catholics in America identify as Democrats.

Hispanics in America, unlike the White and Black population, are increasingly sending their kids to public schools. From 2009 to 2020, the number of public school students who were Hispanic increased by six percentage points, whereas it decreased by eight percentage points for Whites and two percentage points for Blacks. 

According to Romero, "This is why the few Hispanic Catholics that go on to College and University end up virtually losing their Catholic faith, or if they do stay in the faith they generally become 'cafeteria Catholics' and decide for themselves what they choose to believe and what they don't." 

This would explain the fact that currently 72% of Latino Catholics in America identify as Democrats.

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This trend of abandoning religion, though, is neither isolated to Hispanics nor unique to the United States. Rather, it's happening outside of America, across all races and cultures. 

For instance, as of 2019, irreligious adults — called "nones" — for the first time began to outnumber adult Catholics in the United States. "The Christian share of the population is down and religious 'nones' have grown across multiple demographic groups," according to a 2019 study.

It showed that walking away from religion was not exclusive to one demographic, rather, it was — and is — a growing movement among "white people, black people and Hispanics; men and women; in all regions of the country; and among college graduates and those with lower levels of educational attainment." 

Accordingly, just as Hispanics in America have left the Church, so too have Hispanics in Latin America. In 2018, Chilean polling company Latinobarómetro published data showing that "nones" are rapidly growing in Latin American society. 

Abandoning religion, though, is neither isolated to Hispanics nor unique to the United States.

The Catholic Church in America — at least at the episcopal level — gets tens of millions of dollars from the government every year to provide refugee and migrant services. In fact, in 2016, nearly 39% of the budget for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops came from government contracts linked to immigration services, amounting to nearly $100 million.

However, as more Hispanics cross the border and receive aid from Catholic bishops to do so, those same Hispanics are leaving their childhood faith in droves. It's clear that the Catholic bishops' financial effort to help Hispanics has not paid off, at least not in spiritual terms. 

What's more, the Hispanics who still identify as Catholic are really just holding onto the label. A mere 22% of Hispanics attend Mass weekly — 4% lower than American Catholics overall.  Only just half of those self-identified Hispanic Catholics pray daily, according to the recent Pew study.

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