American Hispanics: They Like the Pope, but the Church — Not So Much

a mural of guadalupe is painted on the wall of a check cashing establishment in east Austin TX. photo by bf newall

I spotted this shiny image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the wall of a check cashing establishment during my visit to Austin, TX, last weekend. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

More news from the Religion Newswriters Association conference I attended over the weekend in Austin, TX – the results of a Public Religion Research Institute survey of Hispanics in America. The survey turned up some surprises:

  • Sixty-nine percent of Hispanics in general have a favorable view of Pope Francis, but only 54 percent look favorably on the Catholic Church. Catholic Hispanics, on the other hand, have a favorable view of the Catholic Church – 81 percent – as well as a favorable view of the Pope — 84 percent.
  • Only 26 percent of evangelical Christian Hispanics favor legal abortion in all or most cases, while nearly twice as many– 47 percent — of Catholic Hispanics feel abortion should be legal.

    A mural dipicting Jesus on the cross is painted on an fuse box next to a telephone at a convenience store in east Austin, TX. Photo by BF Newhall

    That’s Jesus on the cross to the left of the telephone. Photo by BF Newhall

  • A majority – 55 percent – of Hispanics favor same-sex marriage in America. Again, evangelicals proved far more conservative on the question than Catholics. Only 21 percent of evangelicals support gay marriage, compared to 62 percent of Catholics.
  • A majority – 53 percent — of Hispanics continues to identify as Catholic. But a growing number – 25 percent – identifies as Protestant. Contrary to popular perception, however, those Protestants are not exclusively evangelical: 13 percent are evangelical, but 12 percent are mainline Protestant.
  • A 2012 survey found that twenty percent of Americans have no religious affiliation. Similarly, a 2013 Pew survey found that 22 percent of self-identifying American Jews say “none” when asked their religious affiliation. For Hispanics the “nones” group is considerably smaller – only 12 percent, but growing.
  • Two thirds of Hispanics believe that the Bible is the word of God, with half of that number believing that the Bible should be taken literally. One quarter of Hispanics, on the other hand, believe that the Bible was written by human beings and is not the word of God.
  • Sixty-five percent of Catholic Hispanics say they can disagree with church teachings on contraceptive use and still be good Catholics.

The Public Research Institute’s Hispanic Values Survey included questions on other topics including politics, the role of government, language, and immigration reform. For details, go to http://publicreligion.org/research/2013/09/hispanic-values-survey-2013/

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Comments

  1. janet tezak says:

    Very interesting! In my experience many (if not most Catholics) are cafeteria Catholics, pick and choose. Interesting what you said about Hispanics’ views on abortion. The older I get the more I enjoy the Catholic church espeically the beauty of the mass, but I no longer feel guilty if I don’t embrace everything they believe in. The issue of abortion kept me away far too long!

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      Sounds like there’s actually a lot of flexibility in the Catholic Church — among Catholics anyway.

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