Photo: Catholic Church
The majority of Hispanics in the United States continue to practice Catholicism, but the numbers of Latinos describing themselves as Protestant or unaffiliated are rising, the Pew Research Center says in a study released Wednesday.
The proportion of Latinos who consider themselves to be Catholics fell 12 percentage points over the past four years, from 67 to 55 percent.
Pew’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion also found 24 percent of Hispanics identifying themselves as former Catholics.
The study suggests that those trends show a religious polarization among the Hispanic community, and the ever-smaller majority of Hispanic Catholics find themselves within two growing groups - evangelical Protestants and those with no religious affiliation - which are on the extreme opposites of the U.S. religious spectrum.
On the one hand, Latinos are converting increasingly more from Catholicism to Protestantism, but at the same time many others are turning away from organized religion altogether.
Fifty-five percent of the country’s Hispanics identify themselves as Catholics, about 19.6 million people, while 22 percent are Protestants and 18 percent are not members of any church.
The survey was conducted between May 24 and July 28, 2013, among a representative sample of 5,103 Hispanic adults across the United States.
The polling was done both in English and Spanish by telephone by bilingual interviewers, and its error margin is + or - 2.1 percentage points.