Magazine article The Christian Century

Christian Hispanics: Same Politics, Culture

Magazine article The Christian Century

Christian Hispanics: Same Politics, Culture

Article excerpt

In a landmark study of the religious affiliations and practices of U.S. Hispanics, researchers say that while more Latinos are becoming Protestants, their spiritual conversion is not a sociopolitical one, with evangelical and Catholic Hispanics sharing similar voting patterns.

The findings represent the first phase of a three-year project, "Hispanic Churches in American Public Life," funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trust.

The common social vision among Hispanics--or Latinos, a term some prefer--transcends denominational barriers, said project co-director Virgilio Elizondo, a Catholic priest, in describing preliminary results May 4 at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, where project co-director Jesse Miranda, an Assemblies of God minister, is based. "You might say that blood and ethnicity is much, much stronger than anything else," said Elizondo, founder of the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas.

New census data on Latinos released May 9 showed that the nearly 60 percent growth of U.S. Hispanic population in the past decade is not confined to big Sun Belt states. The biggest growth was in the Midwest, where Hispanics--seven in ten of Mexican descent--grew by 80 percent to 3.1 million. People of Mexican lineage make up 58.5 percent of the 35.3 million Hispanics in the 2000 census.

Among specific conclusions of the Pew study's initial phase:

* About 70 percent of the country's Hispanics are Catholic and 22 percent are Protestant. Hispanic Protestants have gained ground from the 18 percent of the Hispanic population they represented in the late 1980s. Elizondo said churches in both groups are growing because Hispanics identifying themselves as nominal Catholics are becoming more active in parishes. …

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