Thursday, April 13, 2023

Alternatives to Roman Catholicism for Hispanics in the United States

The religious landscape among U.S. Latinos is changing, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. While Catholicism remains the largest religious group among Latinos in the United States, the number of U.S. Latinos who identify as Catholic continues to decline steadily. In fact, the percentage of U.S. Latinos who identify as Catholic has dropped from 57% in 2010 to 47% in 2021, while the percentage of those who do not have a faith affiliation has risen from 10% to 30% during the same time period.

The Pew report also found that U.S. births, rather than new immigration, have driven U.S. Hispanic population growth since the 2000s. Additionally, the gap between the percentage raised Catholic and the percentage who are currently Catholic grew among U.S. Latinos older than 50.

Interestingly, the report suggests that U.S. Protestant Latinos are more likely than U.S. Catholic Latinos to say religion is very important in their lives, to attend services at least once a week, and to pray daily. This is despite the fact that speaking in tongues is an important part of charismatic Christianity and Pentecostal Christianity, which have become popular in Latin America. Among Mass-attending U.S. Catholic Latinos, 40% say their services at least sometimes include speaking in tongues, compared to 24% of all U.S. Catholics who said the same in a previous Pew survey.

With the decline of Catholicism among U.S. Latinos, many are seeking alternatives. The Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have Hispanic ministries, with ELCA's Hispanic outreach in Wisconsin having the Parroquia Santa Maria, an ELCA parish with Roman Catholic imagery, and the San José parish, which is a dual-affiliated congregation with both ELCA and PCUSA, incorporating strongly Roman Catholic imagery.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) has a 30-page strategic plan for Hispanic outreach, emphasizing understanding the cultural shifts that occur in immigrant communities and parishes as later generations become more Americanized. St. Peter's Church, a Lutheran church, uses Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic icon, on its vestments. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) has embraced aspects of Hispanic religious traditions, and Lutherans tend to practice a worship style that is more historically liturgical, resembling that of the Anglican or Roman Catholic communions.

For those seeking a contemporary alternative to Roman Catholicism, the American National Catholic Church (ANCC) is an independent Catholic denomination that allows more flexibility. With priests that can marry and a liturgy that follows the 2nd edition of the Roman Missal, ANCC has similarities to Roman Catholicism, but allows for more freedom, including women priests and LGBTQ couples. ANCC may be a good alternative for Hispanic Americans who have left the Roman Catholic Church due to the pedophile priests and the Church's stance against women's autonomy in reproductive health and the LGBTQ community.

Overall, the Pew report underscores the importance of understanding the complexities of religious identity among U.S. Latinos and the ways in which this identity is changing over time. As Catholicism continues to decline among U.S. Latinos, alternative options such as Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, and ANCC may become more attractive. It will be interesting to see how this trend evolves in the coming years and what impact it will have on the religious landscape of the United States.

See Also: