Should Anyone Be Surprised? Latinos Contributing to Growth of the Nonaffiliated in America

According to recent research conducted by Pew, there is no reason to suppose that Latinos in America aren’t part of upward trends in nonaffiliation and nonreligion. If anyone is surprised, they haven’t been paying attention in recent years. The signs were all there to see.

The new report is here:

PEW: “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States”

This article explains,

“Most Hispanics in the United States continue to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. But the Catholic share of the Hispanic population is declining, while rising numbers of Hispanics are Protestant or unaffiliated with any religion. Indeed, nearly one-in-four Hispanic adults (24%) are now former Catholics…”

It also points out that in 2010, Pew found that 67% were Catholic, but that number has fallen to 55%.

“… a majority (55%) of the nation’s estimated 35.4 million Latino adults – or about 19.6 million Latinos – identify as Catholic today. About 22% are Protestant (including 16% who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical) and 18% are religiously unaffiliated.”

With 18% now unaffiliated, the Latino/Hispanic (Pew uses terms interchangeably) population closely resembles America overall. It wouldn’t be surprising for additional research to discern how this population segment is also contributing more and more to the percentage of nonreligious Godless as well.

I asked Juhem Navarro-Rivera ( follow @juhemnr ), a research associate with the Public Religion Research Institute, about his impressions of the Pew Study. He expressed no surprise at all, and confirmed how these numbers have been trending for years. His list of research reports include:

ARIS: American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population

ARIS: U.S. Latino Religious Identification 1990-2008: Change, Diversity & Transformation

ARIS: The GOP’s Latino Problem

The Secularization of U.S. Latinos

PRRI: Pope Francis and Hispanic American Catholics

PRRI: Hispanic Values Surveys


The question of whether the unaffiliated and the nonreligious in America are going to display ethnic diversity is a question getting answered. And it’s no surprise.

About John Shook

John R. Shook, PhD, is a scholar and professor living in the Washington, D.C. area. He is research associate in philosophy and instructor in science education for the University at Buffalo. He is also President of Partners for Secular Activism, an educational nonprofit offering online classes of interest to the secular side of life at Click the About tab under the header to learn more about John.