Latinos and Pentecostalism transforming US religion

By Ecumenical News International
30 Apr 2007

Latinos are radically altering the religious landscape of the United States, in large part because of their strong affiliations with Pentecostal and charismatic movements, a new study has concluded - writes Chris Herlinger for ENI.

The study, 'Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion', by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center, notes that because of their increasing numbers in the United States, Latinos, or Hispanics, are likely to bring about "important changes" in the Roman Catholic Church, the single largest US religious denomination.

The study notes that more than half of US Latino Catholics identify themselves as charismatics, who follow a more lively form of worship than most other Catholics. This contrasts with the one-eighth of non-Hispanic Catholics who also identity themselves as charismatics.

"While remaining committed to the church and its traditional teachings, many of these Latino Catholics say they have witnessed or experienced occurrences typical of spirit-filled or renewalist movements, including divine healing and direct revelations from God," the study notes.

It adds: "Even many Latino Catholics who do not identify themselves as renewalists appear deeply influenced by spirit-filled forms of Christianity."

The study defines the renewal movement as placing "special emphasis on God's ongoing, day-to-day intervention in human affairs through the person of the Holy Spirit".

Such influences are also strongly felt among Latino Protestants in the United States, with more than half saying they identity with so-called "spirit-filled religion", a substantially higher number than non-Latino Protestants, the study found.

More than two-thirds of US Latinos, some 68 percent, identify themselves as Roman Catholics, while 15 percent identity themselves as born-again or Evangelical Protestants. However, whatever their affiliation, the study concluded that for "the great majority of Latinos, regardless of their religious tradition, God is an active force in everyday life".

The study also found that Latinos who call themselves evangelical Protestants are twice as likely as Catholic Latinos to identify with the Republican Party, while US Latino Catholics remain loyal, as they have for some time, to the Democratic Party.

Link to the study here: http://pewforum.org/surveys/hispanic/

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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