Nearly one-third of U.S. Latinos identify as “religiously unaffiliated,” while Catholicism has also steadily declined among the group, according to a poll released on Thursday by Pew Research Center.
The poll found that the percentage of Latin Americans that called themselves “religiously unaffiliated” had jumped from 2021 to 2022, from 25% to 30%. Catholicism, specifically Roman Catholicism, has long been the predominant religion among Latinos but those who still identify as Catholics have continued to decline over the years, while Protestantism remained relatively unchanged, according to Pew’s research. (RELATED: Nearly Half Of Gen Z Identifies As Non-Religious, New Study Finds)
Those who identify as “atheist, “agnostic” or “nothing in particular” has rapidly increased over the last five years, according to respondents who participated in the poll. From 2013 to 2017 the number bounced between 12% and 18%, before hitting 20% in 2018 and then 25% in 2021.
Pew noted that the increasing number of non-religious Latinos in the U.S. may have something to do with the larger number of young Latin Americans in the country.
“Among U.S. Latinos ages 18 to 29, 79% were born in the United States,” Pew’s explained. “About half (49%) of Latinos in this age group now identify as religiously unaffiliated. By contrast, only about one-in-five Latinos ages 50 and older are unaffiliated; most of these older Latinos (56%) were born outside the U.S. U.S.-born Latinos are less likely to be Catholic (36%) and more likely to be unaffiliated (39%), according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey of Latino adults.”
Share of U.S. Latino adults who identify as…
Religiously unaffiliated: 30%
Evangelical Protestant: 15%
Non-evangelical Protestant: 6%
Other faiths: 4%https://t.co/2uIX1Zs4wf pic.twitter.com/2wYs5AZFCu
— Pew Research Race and Ethnicity (@pewidentity) April 13, 2023
In 2021, 49% of Latinos identified as Catholic but a year later the number fell to 46%, according to the poll. The decline began in 2010 when 67% of Latin Americans said they were part of the Catholic church, before shrinking for several years, rebounding slightly in 2014, then continuing to trend downwards for the last eight years.
The second highest religious affiliation for Latinos is Protestantism at 15% as of 2022, according to the poll. In 2018, those who identified as Protestants peaked at 19% before dropping to 14% in 2021.
A majority of Latin Americans said that they were raised in a Catholic home at 65%, according to the poll, and when broken down by age, only 51% of respondents aged 18-29 said that they were raised Catholic, as opposed to 80% of those 65 and up. Almost 4 in 10 Latinos said that religion was “very important” to them while 32% said it was “not very or not all important.”
The poll surveyed 7,647 U.S. Latino respondents with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7%.
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