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The deeply-religious Latino comunity isn't really so, study shows

By Jeannie Rivera Nov 19, 2012 10:57AM

My grandfather, an aunt and my own father are ministers. Many family members from their generation are profoundly religious. I am not. I have chosen to express my faith in ways that are a departure from tradition and organized-religion. I don’t go to church every week, make decisions rooted in a combination of beliefs and intellect rather than on a particular theology, and I am no longer afraid of hell.

 

In my close-knit group of Latino friends I am the norm, not the exception. Among us, there are also self-declared atheists, a few agnostics, and others too indifferent to religion to even care to pick a category.  It turns out we are a microcosm of what’s happening with Latinos and faith in the U.S.

 

A study out this week brings down a myth that’s has been perpetuated too long: that Hispanics are deeply religious.  We are not.  Almost all of us have a Bible at home but only about 10 percent reads it regularly. Only 17 percent of the surveyed by the Barna Group study said they had a favorable opinion of Christian churches.

 

It seems that as we get acculturated and shed some old traditions for new ones, religion becomes a casualty of our integration.  It begs the question, why?

 

I won’t purport to know the answer. I can only speak for myself. Growing up, the religious community was often a source of discomfort because no matter how hard I tried to conform, I couldn’t.  The rules in my fundamentalist, protestant church community were too many and too much for my teenage brain to accept by faith. Mind you, I’m not talking basic doctrine here. It was everything from what one was allowed to wear, to what music and books were ok and much more. Hell would be waiting for you if you strayed.

 

This is all too common in Latin-style religion. We bring into churches the same intense passion we have for life. But there is such a thing as too much passion. It is call being overzealous and that zeal breeds control, fear and oppression.

 

As I matured into my own skin, I felt comfortable openly rejecting what I had never believed but was afraid to say so. The fact that I was then in the U.S., where so many other religions and philosophies coexist, gave me a sense of freedom to explore my dissatisfaction with my childhood religion and develop convictions that were my own.

 

I am keenly aware that my experience, if common, isn’t universal. Many find comfort, purpose and direction in religion. Others don’t. For those in the second group it doesn’t mean we have stopped cultivating spirituality and seeking a relationship with a higher power. It simply means we have found religion to be an obstacle to achieving that.


26Comments
Nov 21, 2012 7:40AM
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friend what you have discribed is religion at it's worst. but what you have to try is a deep found relationship with the living Christ in spirit and in truth. The bible says first seek ye the Kingdom of God and it's rightiousness and everything else will be added on to you. As said before Jesus is not a religion, it's your relationship with him. So, friend read your bible and find out the truth that you will see how truth will set you free. Religion does not do that, Jesus does. 
Nov 21, 2012 8:18AM
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I realize there is a total generation gap and a buy in to not believing in the Christian principles and that Jesus is your friend and that through the bible the message is found. 
Does the devil have something to do with this. I believe so, for we are given the freedom to make our decisions right or wrong . The guiding light is Jesus and his message  is in the bible. Read Genesis and if you really want to understand life read Job in the bible. If you have question ask a priest or minister or a rabbi. 
Feb 14, 2013 9:25AM
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Part of me agrees with you - I was raised Catholic, went to church every Sunday and even attended Catholic School most of my life on through high school.  Here's what I've learned. 1) The church is made of sinners, not saints.  We (those that are "losing their religion") knit-pick at what image we want to have of the church.  We focus on the atrocities committed in the name of God, but selectively ignore the acts of kindness, the charity, the message that is taught in service.  2) We shouldn't worship an institution - The Catholic Church, The Presbyterian Church, the  Luther Church , etc., none of them are what should be worshipped.  They simply act as the messengers.  They collect funds, but like any business, they have associated costs (rent, utilities, salaries, food) and the remainder is given to charity.  We forget that all the good that the churches do, and focus on the worst actions that they do. Lastly, 3),it's estimated that between 68-88% of the worlds population believes in a higher power... a God.  So either you're in the elite 12% that's gotten it right,  and everybody else is wrong, or perhaps the rest of us are onto something?

I think most importantly, what my studies have shown me is faith.  Faith and conviction are perhaps the two most powerful words I can ever say.  Besides, if this life is really it, and there is no higher power, wouldn't that life be lonely?

Mar 9, 2013 9:09AM
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It's not the religion or group  that saves,  It's Jesus.
May 8, 2013 9:22AM
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My friend, you are part of a small minority. Of course you are part of a group of people that think they that they breath on their own, and that God has nothing to do with it. Step outside, visit the Churches right here in NYC (where people are so focus on making money) and you will Teenagers, Generation X,  Praising and Thanking God.
I agree some Churches impose rules on their  members that will keep some people away, but is the power of the Holy Spirit, that changes us. I do not know how old you are but please don't wait until you really need The Lord Jesus, our God to claim his name. This is what happens with most of us when we run into bad times and powerless to change it.
If you accept Christ as your personal savior and repent of your sins(We are all sinners)
he will forgive you. You my dear Sister will start to see a change in your life, as long as you receive it and are sincere, and above all BELIEVE.

I am very happy and Satisfied of my Dominican upbringing no issues of drug abuses here. My Parents, worked very hard and we 5 siblings are doing very well in this Country and our respective Children. We are Protestant family, My Children and I Pray every day, before we leave the house and as we are going to bed, thanking God for keeping us, through Faith in Jesus Christ and believing no matter what.
My Sister, I will pray that God open your ears and eyes to the truth.


Apr 14, 2013 12:30PM
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I'm sick and tired of hearing  jerk people stating they are catholic, but don believe in the church,. it is true that faith comes with our inner growth, not because somebody tells you, but there is people who never step inside a church, but yet 'they want they children to be baptize or confirmed, or even marry under catholic church,.. why? maybe because  the answer  in in the question; we need to belive in something.
JESUS  was kill because he didn't came to make life easy us but to make us grow as a powerful holly individual, and there is; were human race mistake that religion need to be some sort of easy way to do want you want. freedom is not doing want that heck you decide , but do what is right for you and everyone.
we are so selfish as human we just want to know want is in store for us instead of what can we do for other.
you need a reflection check up.

Feb 14, 2013 9:25AM
avatar

Part of me agrees with you - I was raised Catholic, went to church every Sunday and even attended Catholic School most of my life on through high school.  Here's what I've learned. 1) The church is made of sinners, not saints.  We (those that are "losing their religion") knit-pick at what image we want to have of the church.  We focus on the atrocities committed in the name of God, but selectively ignore the acts of kindness, the charity, the message that is taught in service.  2) We shouldn't worship an institution - The Catholic Church, The Presbyterian Church, the  Luther Church , etc., none of them are what should be worshipped.  They simply act as the messengers.  They collect funds, but like any business, they have associated costs (rent, utilities, salaries, food) and the remainder is given to charity.  We forget that all the good that the churches do, and focus on the worst actions that they do. Lastly, 3),it's estimated that between 68-88% of the worlds population believes in a higher power... a God.  So either you're in the elite 12% that's gotten it right,  and everybody else is wrong, or perhaps the rest of us are onto something?

I think most importantly, what my studies have shown me is faith.  Faith and conviction are perhaps the two most powerful words I can ever say.  Besides, if this life is really it, and there is no higher power, wouldn't that life be lonely?

avatar
Hispanics and people in general  who "comes of age" chose not to embrace deities!  And that "is a good thing"!!!
Apr 14, 2013 12:32PM
avatar
I'm sick and tired of hearing  jerk people stating they are catholic, but don believe in the church,. it is true that faith comes with our inner growth, not because somebody tells you, but there is people who never step inside a church, but yet 'they want they children to be baptize or confirmed, or even marry under catholic church,.. why? maybe because  the answer  in in the question; we need to belive in something.
JESUS  was kill because he didn't came to make life easy us but to make us grow as a powerful holly individual, and there is; were human race mistake that religion need to be some sort of easy way to do want you want. freedom is not doing want that heck you decide , but do what is right for you and everyone.
we are so selfish as human we just want to know want is in store for us instead of what can we do for other.
you need a reflection check up.

Nov 21, 2012 8:35AM
avatar
You think Christianity is harsh on you wait till Soclist is in place. You'll not longer have a choice>
Mar 9, 2013 9:09AM
avatar
It's not the religion or group  that saves,  It's Jesus.
Jun 24, 2013 3:04AM
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John Young - make your comment without the unnecessary and inaccurate comments about Priests.  You have NO IDEA what parts of the Bible Priests have read and studied.  Also, learn how to spell.  You come across appearing naive and unimportant when your post has so many misspelled words.  Other than that, it appears that you have no idea what you are talking about.  Go back to bed. 
Jun 24, 2013 3:03AM
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John Young - make your comment without the unnecessary and inaccurate comments about Priests.  You have NO IDEA what parts of the Bible Priests have read and studied.  Also, learn how to spell.  You come across appearing naive and unimportant when your post has so many misspelled words.  Other than that, it appears that you have no idea what you are talking about.  Go back to bed. 
May 8, 2013 9:22AM
avatar
My friend, you are part of a small minority. Of course you are part of a group of people that think they that they breath on their own, and that God has nothing to do with it. Step outside, visit the Churches right here in NYC (where people are so focus on making money) and you will Teenagers, Generation X,  Praising and Thanking God.
I agree some Churches impose rules on their  members that will keep some people away, but is the power of the Holy Spirit, that changes us. I do not know how old you are but please don't wait until you really need The Lord Jesus, our God to claim his name. This is what happens with most of us when we run into bad times and powerless to change it.
If you accept Christ as your personal savior and repent of your sins(We are all sinners)
he will forgive you. You my dear Sister will start to see a change in your life, as long as you receive it and are sincere, and above all BELIEVE.

I am very happy and Satisfied of my Dominican upbringing no issues of drug abuses here. My Parents, worked very hard and we 5 siblings are doing very well in this Country and our respective Children. We are Protestant family, My Children and I Pray every day, before we leave the house and as we are going to bed, thanking God for keeping us, through Faith in Jesus Christ and believing no matter what.
My Sister, I will pray that God open your ears and eyes to the truth.


Mar 9, 2013 9:08AM
avatar
It's not the religion or group  that saves,  It's Jesus.
May 8, 2013 9:22AM
avatar
My friend, you are part of a small minority. Of course you are part of a group of people that think they that they breath on their own, and that God has nothing to do with it. Step outside, visit the Churches right here in NYC (where people are so focus on making money) and you will Teenagers, Generation X,  Praising and Thanking God.
I agree some Churches impose rules on their  members that will keep some people away, but is the power of the Holy Spirit, that changes us. I do not know how old you are but please don't wait until you really need The Lord Jesus, our God to claim his name. This is what happens with most of us when we run into bad times and powerless to change it.
If you accept Christ as your personal savior and repent of your sins(We are all sinners)
he will forgive you. You my dear Sister will start to see a change in your life, as long as you receive it and are sincere, and above all BELIEVE.

I am very happy and Satisfied of my Dominican upbringing no issues of drug abuses here. My Parents, worked very hard and we 5 siblings are doing very well in this Country and our respective Children. We are Protestant family, My Children and I Pray every day, before we leave the house and as we are going to bed, thanking God for keeping us, through Faith in Jesus Christ and believing no matter what.
My Sister, I will pray that God open your ears and eyes to the truth.


Nov 1, 2013 7:16AM
avatar

Jesus hated  religion!  Its what separates us from God. Its repentance and trusting in Jesus to save you that matters. You can't do anything to save yourself and that includes following any rules or traditions. God gave us the ten commandments to show us our sin that we may see we are filthy. the only way to become clean is to repent and trust in Jesus who washes us as white as snow. He is the only one who can. He is perfect and spotless. we are not. He is the only One who can save you. Thanks be to God!

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 1, 2013 7:16AM
avatar

Jesus hated  religion!  Its what separates us from God. Its repentance and trusting in Jesus to save you that matters. You can't do anything to save yourself and that includes following any rules or traditions. God gave us the ten commandments to show us our sin that we may see we are filthy. the only way to become clean is to repent and trust in Jesus who washes us as white as snow. He is the only one who can. He is perfect and spotless. we are not. He is the only One who can save you. Thanks be to God!

 

 

 

 

 

May 8, 2013 9:21AM
avatar
My friend, you are part of a small minority. Of course you are part of a group of people that think they that they breath on their own, and that God has nothing to do with it. Step outside, visit the Churches right here in NYC (where people are so focus on making money) and you will Teenagers, Generation X,  Praising and Thanking God.
I agree some Churches impose rules on their  members that will keep some people away, but is the power of the Holy Spirit, that changes us. I do not know how old you are but please don't wait until you really need The Lord Jesus, our God to claim his name. This is what happens with most of us when we run into bad times and powerless to change it.
If you accept Christ as your personal savior and repent of your sins(We are all sinners)
he will forgive you. You my dear Sister will start to see a change in your life, as long as you receive it and are sincere, and above all BELIEVE.

I am very happy and Satisfied of my Dominican upbringing no issues of drug abuses here. My Parents, worked very hard and we 5 siblings are doing very well in this Country and our respective Children. We are Protestant family, My Children and I Pray every day, before we leave the house and as we are going to bed, thanking God for keeping us, through Faith in Jesus Christ and believing no matter what.
My Sister, I will pray that God open your ears and eyes to the truth.


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About the author
  • Jeannie RiveraJeannie Rivera

    Jeannie Rivera is an independent writer and former newspaper reporter who lives in Central Florida with her family, a guitar, a few orchids and a bunch of books. She doesn't have pets and this is unlikely to change. She's penned stories for The Miami Herald, The Orlando Sentinel, BBC Mundo, AOL and others. She was raised in Puerto Rico where she learned to sing, cook good food, be a good mom and throw boisterous parties (she gets great story material from these.) She enjoys traveling, good wine, great books, her two boys and sleeping.