Latinos Are Losing Their Religion

Back in April, the Pew Hispanic Center released the results (PDF) of a nationwide poll showing that non-religious Latinos were growing faster than we might have imagined:

As you can see from those images, 14% of U.S. Hispanics are religiously unaffiliated and more “Americanized” Hispanics are less religious than their foreign-born counterparts.

NBCLatino reports on the findings:

Timothy Matovina, a leading expert on Catholicism, says Latinos’ attitudes toward religion mirror the rest of the population, since the 19 percent say they are unaffiliated. “We need to see the state of Latino religious affiliation as in flux, just like everyone else in the USA. So if Catholics are losing percentage and Protestants are leveling out, what is growing?

Juhem Navarro-Rivera, a research associate at the Public Religion Research Institute, says his data shows 18 percent of young Latinos claim to have no religious affiliation, and he thinks that number will grow. “This has accelerated since 2008. The difference was not so large,” says Navarro-Rivera.

What does this mean for atheists? Well, if the number of Hispanic non-theists is growing, we need to find out what their biggest concerns are and address them directly, making our spaces more welcoming.

My hunch is that, for many young Hispanics, their own journey out of faith probably mirrors that of African-Americans. That is: religion is so tied into their culture that it can’t be easy to just walk away from faith simply because they don’t believe in God anymore. We have to provide ways for them to stay connected to their communities so that they (and their families) know that you identify as both Hispanic and atheist, neither one compromising the other.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.