It’s a trend that bears watching:
While the Catholic church is still the principal religion for Latinos, a growing number are bucking tradition and moving toward evangelism — particularly among the younger generation.
“My mother is so Catholic,” said Jose Rosales, 55. “She tripped out when she found out. She and my aunt said, ‘Oh, great; now you’re a Hallelujah.’ ”
About 23 percent, or 9.5 million of 41 million Latinos in the U.S. in 2004, identified themselves as Protestants or other Christians, according to statistics compiled by Gastn Espinosa, an assistant professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.
Each year, as many as 600,000 U.S. Latinos leave the Catholic Church for other Christian denominations, Espinosa said.
In the most recent numbers — a 2007 Pew Research Center report — 43 percent of the 4,600 Hispanics interviewed identified themselves as evangelicals who had converted from Catholicism.
Destiny Church in Indio, Calif., opened its doors in 2004. Five years later, it added a Spanish service and bought another building in anticipation of the growing Spanish ministry.
In 2009, when the Spanish service was first offered, 15 to 20 people would attend the service, said Anthony Martinez, the church’s membership director. Now, an average of 150 are there.
Most of the Hispanic former Catholics at the church are second and third-generation, he said.