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Monday, April 16, 2007

Secularism and the Hispanic Immigrant

posted by on April 16 at 9:02 AM

Remember listening to right-wing religious nuts—and Karl Rove and his flying monkeys—talk about how they were going to reach out to immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and South America? Remember right-wing religious nuts claiming that Hispanic immigrants were “natural” allies of socially conservative religious fascists here in the United States? Remember hearing that Hispanic immigrants were family-focused, church-going Catholics—a minority among Catholics—and therefore immune to the blandishments of secular American culture? Remember how Karl Rove was going to fold these church-going, immune-to-secular-culture immigrants into the GOP base, thereby ensuring a permanent Republican majority? Remember how the GOP was going to be able to do outreach to Hispanic immigrants the same way they do outreach to crazy white people? By going into their churches?

Well, file this story—from yesterday’s New York Times—under “Chickens counted prior to eggs hatching”:

For Some Hispanics, Coming to America Also Means Abandoning Religion

A wave of research shows that increasing percentages of Hispanics are abandoning church, suggesting to researchers that along with assimilation comes a measure of secularization.

Several studies show that Hispanics are just as likely as other Americans to identify themselves as having “no religion,” and to not affiliate with a church. Those who describe themselves as secular are, without question, a small minority among Hispanics—as they are among Americans at large. But, in contrast to many of the non-Hispanic Americans who identify themselves as secular, most of the Hispanics say they were once religious….

A separate study of 4,000 Hispanics to be released this month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center found that 8 percent of them said they had “no religion” — similar to the 11 percent in the general public. Of the Hispanics who claimed no religion, two-thirds said they had once been religious. Thirty-nine percent of the Hispanics who said they had no religion were former Catholics.

A larger survey, called the American Religious Identification Survey, a study of 50,000 adults, including 3,000 Hispanics, found that the percentage of Hispanics who identified themselves as having no religion more than doubled from 1990 to 2001, to 13 percent from 6 percent.

Oh, and remember how the GOP assumed the religiousity and cultural conservatism of Hispanic immigrants left them no choice but to vote Republican—so it didn’t matter how viciously Republican elected officials, conservative radio talk-show hosts, and FoxNews “personalities” bashed illegal immigrants?

Mistakes were made.

RSS icon Comments


Thx for the post Dan. The catholic church in Latin America, though, strong has always been an ally of the dictatorships, from Argentina to Nicaragua. People in Latin America have always seen through that, while remaining devout catholics. Progressive clergy were often assasinated, specially in El Salvador and Brazil. It is of little surprise that once here a lot of folks escape the right wing politics of the catholic church, though still attend church and are devote catholics. Obviously it is a case of the republicans understanding Latin American history. It is no small wonder that the right wing evangelicals have invested millions in Latin America in trying to replace the liberation theology churches and the christian based communities that teach tolerence, liberation of the poor and resitence against right wing policies. Bush's current immigration proposal is unworkable, and again insults the population they claim to be trying to reach. Im an atheist and a recovering catholic, this was good to see.

Posted by SeMe | April 16, 2007 9:18 AM

Oops , that should read "the republicans lack of understanding Latin American history."

Posted by SeMe | April 16, 2007 9:20 AM

Many people are unaware of these viscous attacks on immigrants, possibly using oil or high fructose corn syrup.

Posted by Fnarf | April 16, 2007 9:44 AM

Ack! You got me, Fnarf. Making the change now.

Oh, and I saw the video of you putting quarters in your nose--14 of them--and thought, "How hard could that be?" I could only manage to get four into my nose--and I've got a big nose. I salute you.

Posted by Dan Savage | April 16, 2007 9:50 AM

@1, I do think a) if the Church supports oppressive regimes it's cus they'll get shot if they don't (true story). If you think the church is 'right wing' you've obviously never read these kinds of things: or this one here I don't think this makes them left wing, but the US bishops are economically about on the level with Democrats, and social issues (I mean abortion etc) are NOT left-wing issues (not by my defnition), they're just human rights; that's where the Church is regressive, but that's also where hispanics are more likely to agree wih the church. b) more importantly, not everything is done for political reasons. It's called assimilation. God's dead up here. He's not quite done done there. If they were so politically conscious, they would have fled the church at home and rejoined it here.

To conclude, Marxist interpretation is sooo 1870s, and it's too bad Nietzsche didn't write an Antimarx to go along with his Antichrist.

Posted by john | April 16, 2007 10:13 AM

well, if it is happening, it ain't happening in my fam. 99% of my family is catholic, the remaining 1% is some sorta re-born christian, and then there is me, literally the only atheist in my tree. And, being Mexican-American, it is a big family tree...

The interesting thing is, while the majority of my family are pro life and anti-gay-rights; they vote democrat. My guess is, they vote for the candidate with the best economic policy, and pray that they never have to deal with an abortion or a gay family member.

The rest are pro-life & anti-gay-rights and vote republican :(

Posted by Mike in MO | April 16, 2007 11:23 AM

Sooo, the GOP is wrong because only 87% of Hispanics are religious, and not 94% like it used to be? I'd say it's still a tantalizing demographic they're going to want to target.

Posted by him | April 16, 2007 11:30 AM

Nothing new here Dan. Business week or Newsweek ran this same type of story over two years ago. The gist of it is that the majority of the Latin American immigrants who do leave the Catholic church simply move over to an evangelic church. Not exactly a move in the right direction. The article specifically pointed out that this is a big trend in second and third generations to the US.

Posted by Kitty | April 16, 2007 1:04 PM

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