Latino Atheists Search for Community in Chicago

We talk about the importance of reaching out to minority atheists all the time, but more often than not, “minority” as we use it just means “black.” Latino atheists are usually ignored in that context.

WBEZ’s Aurora Aguilar spoke with some Latino atheists in Chicago about their transitions into atheism and what they’re searching for:

Jose Alvarado (Aurora Aguilar – WBEZ)

Many Latinos, for example, have an unwavering belief that praying to their patron saint, La Virgen de Guadalupe, can fix all. Jose [Alvarado] says they’re believing in something unproven by empirical evidence. Latinos say “Adios,” or “Go With God,” without meaning it as a blessing. These examples become routine. Jose wishes there was more active awareness of religion and how it affects the lives of its followers.

He says that it’s hard for poor, poorly educated people to really understand and explore their religion.

“When my parents got home from work late because they had been working 10 plus hours a day, there isn’t any real time to delve into the finer points of what’s really in the Bible. The way that it’s set up culturally, it’s not something people do on a regular basis, to think critically what their cultural beliefs are,” he said.

It’s a great piece and one that’s very timely, too. A poll released last year by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 14% of U.S. Hispanics were religiously “unaffiliated” — and, of that group, half of them said that religion plays little to no role in their lives:

Right now, only one group exists specifically for Latino atheists in Chicago. But the demographic is getting larger and it won’t be long before they become a larger segment of all of the local groups. The sooner that happens, the better.

(Thanks to Heidi for the link!)

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.


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