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Young Hispanics leaving Catholic Church for Protestant faith


ap_young_hispanics_religion_130226_wg(ABC News) The Catholic Church can’t seem to catch a break lately. According to a new Gallup poll, young Latinos are shedding the Catholic faith of their parents and some are turning to Protestant alternatives with fervor.

Most Hispanics are still Catholic, the poll found, but they are significantly less religious than their Protestant peers. And Hispanic Protestants are not only more religious, they’re far more religious than American Protestants in general. The same does not hold true for Catholics.

Predictably, younger Hispanics in both groups are less religious than older generations. But even at the 18-29 age level, the youngest cohort in Gallup’s poll, more than half of Hispanic Protestants consider themselves very religious, compared with just one third of Hispanic Catholics the same age.

The Catholic Church has struggled to bring in young members in the United States. Less than half of U.S. Hispanics between 18 and 29 identify as Catholic, compared with the 60+ percent of Hispanics older than 50.

Protestants, on the other hand, have seemingly done a better job of attracting young Latinos. As Gallup points out, there “is no shortfall of Protestants among young Hispanics compared with older age groups: The Protestant percentage is almost identical across all age groups.”

Young Latinos are joining Protestant, especially evangelical, churches for a variety of reasons. According to an NPR report, young Protestant Latinos prefer the more boisterous, musical services and less structured environment to more rigid Catholic masses. [More]


ABC News



  1. Andrew says:

    Emily, you make a very good point. I like yourself and Catholic Lady are converts and you are spot on. It’s not supposed to be easy for us. This time on earth is a valley of tears like we pray in the Salve Regina. Our goal is not to please the world but as Pope Benedict XVI titled one of his many excellent books, it is to “seek that which is above.” Now more than ever, we should all be in a constant state of prayer for the intentions of the holy father and all the bishops, priests and religious who practice and teach the true Catholic faith.

  2. Ann says:

    Read Concerned’s statement — it is excellent.

  3. Florian says:

    The US hierarchy has been “concerned” about this trend for more than thirty years. That “concern” has not translated into policy or action that has made any palpable difference in young Latino lives. And as long as bishops (and priests) continue to maintain their ironclad control over church activities, the Latino drain will continue, even increase.

  4. Recovering Catholic says:

    Personally, I am getting closer to wanting to just leave organized religion behind altogether and just spending time meditating in a small sanctuary in my own home and contemplating what it’s all about in long walks along the beach, in parks and forest preserves. For the importance of community, attend various spiritual retreats, seminars and lectures and listen and interact with people who are far along on the spiritual journey. I wish Thomas Merton were still alive.

    • Larry Perssiko says:

      You might want to spend a week at Mount St. Benedict, Erie, PA….nothing like it anywhere else.

    • Brett Page says:

      I know what you mean about organised religion and agree with your sentiment. Unfortunately, walking on the beach and strolling through the woods might be nice for you, but it doesn’t do anything for any of those who Christ commanded we actually help. Like the poor. The sick. The marginalised and disadvantaged (immigrants, prisoners (!)). Better to find sanctuary while helping in a soup kitchen or a palliative care ward. Nasty, smelly and definately not sexy. But closer to where Jesus spent most of his time.

  5. Richard Andrew says:

    Emily raises a very good point. Like her I was once a Protestant, but I am now Orthodox. When I compare the Orthodox Divine Liturgy with the Latin Mass, I can see the vestiges of the Liturgy therein. The last time I visited my local Catholic church, I felt like I was in a mostly Protestant service! It seems to me that if one simplifies and shortens the Divine Liturgy, one gets the Mass; if one then simplifies and shortens the Mass, one gets the High Protestant service; and if one throws out all the rest, one has the Evangelical service.

    Lent is upon us and I see the same thing: It’s far easier to be Catholic than Orthodox in terms of the Lenten requirements; likewise, it’s far easier to be High Protestant than Catholic, and it’s a whole lot easier to be Low Protestant where nothing is required beyond “believing in Jesus.” The difference is the spiritual payoff, for I have found that the Orthodox Way is far deeper and richer and more glorious than anything I have ever found among the Protestants.

    The spiritual path is narrow and difficult, not wide and easy (Matthew 7:13-14). Unfortunately, too many modern Christians seem to prefer the easy way out rather than the difficult way in.

    • Concerned says:

      And some make things difficult just for the sake of making them difficult.

      • Richard Andrew says:


        It should be obvious that “difficulty for the sake of difficulty” is always wrong and misguided. Jesus came to set us free. The ancient disciplines of the Church (e.g., fasting) are for the healing of soul and of body, not to make people miserable. Jesus said, “Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). One cannot take Jesus’ words seriously without self-discipline, prayer, and above all Communion with the One who saved us.

        • Concerned says:

          your not telling me anything Richard but you make some big geneeralizations that are not the case for a lot of people. A person’s spirituality that is solely based on your perceived leveles of “difficulty” seems rather shallow.

  6. Andrew says:

    If they’re leaving the Catholic Church for Protestant denominations then it just goes to show how the Truths about the Catholic Church have not been properly taught in many RCIAs, CCDs and sadly, pulpits in the post Vatican II years. No one who was brought up to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Catholic Eucharist would ever fathom leaving His Church for one where they can’t receive Him and Adore Him in the Sacrament. Throughout the country, the Catholic Churches that are offering the Tridentine, bringing back sacred music and adoration are the Churches that are growing with parishioners and vocations. Those Churches that are stubbornly stuck in the 70s are not growing and in many cases are closing. God however is in control and i believe He is purifying His Holy Catholic Church.

  7. Concerned says:

    This is just another indication of the need for the church to chose to work on its relevancy. More and more people are finding it to be irrelevant. The Church has chosen to blame it on “secularism” but it has less to do with that than the fact people today need a purpose to do something. They want to feel that it speaks to them where they are. They want to find hope. They want to know that God is real. But now, as CHurch, we are going backwards. We want the past to be relevant. Priests walking around in completely irrelevant garb (cassocks, barrettas, capes, etc) not just when celebrating the Sacraments but in every situation. This makes the clergy seemed removed from everyday life. The prayers are in words that no one uses, awkward structuring and unfamiliar phrases – it makes it seem like there is no connection to everyday life. Too many hhomilies are about teachings of the chruch rather than applying the message of Scripture to everyday life – it beomes irrelevant to what people need. The Church does not have to change its beliefs in order to be relevant – but the church does need to change its delivery. Latinos have become one of the largest groups in the Catholic Church – now the Latinos are leaving – can the CHurch not read the signs? Does God not speak through many different ways? Will the church wait until there is so few left that it can’t survive? It is time for the hierarchy to realize there really is room for everyone but it can not use a cookie-cutter approach to take care of everyone. The hierarchy must be willing to use all of the gifts, talents, ideas and help at their disposal. It is like the man of faith who believed God would rescue him from the flood waters that were fast approaching his home. A neighbor offered the man a ride but the man refused – he was waitinig for God. The waters rose and someone in a boat came by but the man waved him off because he was waiting for God. The waters rose and the man was standing on the roof when a helicopter came by and tried to throw him a rope – but the man waved the helicopter off – he was waiting for God. The man drowned – and when he was standing before God asked “What happened? I was waiting for you to come.” God said, “I sent you a car, a boat and a helicopter. What more could I do?” God has sent many wonderful people to help the CHurch – when will they recognize it?

  8. It is easy to turn to a church whose rules of conduct are much more lax and therefore easier to abide by. If these young Latinos are looking for an easy way out they will find it in most of the Protestant churches. Having been at one time a member of the Protestant church it is easy for me to see that happening.

    • Catholic Lady says:

      Emily; As a former baptist I must comment – the rules of conduct followed by members of a strict baptist churches are by more burdensome than any I have encountered in the Catholic Church – which to me has been a breathe of fresh air – and freedom.


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