Study: Young Latinos losing faith
Jose Luis Sedano prays during Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles last March.
May 7th, 2014
11:58 AM ET

Study: Young Latinos losing faith

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

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(CNN) - Young Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church in droves, according to a new study, with many drifting into the country's fastest-growing religious movement: the nones.

Nearly a third of Latino adults under 30 don't belong to a faith group, according to a large survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.  That's a leap of 17 percentage points in just the last three years.

While the demise of organized religion, specifically Catholicism, is most dramatic among young Latinos, the overall shifts are broad-based, according to Pew, affecting men and women; foreign-born and U.S. natives; college graduates and those with less formal education.

The trends highlighted by Pew's Latino survey also mirror large-scale shifts in the American population as whole.

According to other studies conducted by Pew in recent years, nearly a third of all millennials - Americans between the ages of 18-33 - are religiously unaffiliated, a dramatic and ongoing change from previous generations.

“One of the most striking recent trends in the American religious landscape has been the growing share of the unaffiliated, and this study allows us to see where Latinos fit into that story,” said Cary Funk, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center and one of the co-authors of the study.

“At the same time, understanding religious change among Latinos is important for understanding how this growing group may be reshaping the American religious landscape more broadly.”

The overall breakdown of the nation's estimated 35.4 million Latinos is: 55% Catholic, 22% Protestant and 18% unaffiliated.

That's bad news for the Catholic Church, which has seen a 12 percentage-point drop in Hispanic members since 2010, with most of the losses coming from former Catholics under 50.

As recently as years ago, two-thirds of Latinos were Catholic; now nearly one in four Hispanic adults is a former Catholic, according to Pew.

The most common reasons for leaving the faith?

More than half (55%) say they just "drifted away" from organized religion. A similar number (52%), say they no longer believed in the teachings of their childhood religion.

A smaller number of Latinos (4 percentage points) have left Catholicism to become evangelical Protestants, according to Pew.

"Outreach to the Hispanic community is a top priority for the Catholic Church as the huge growth in the Hispanic community offers a challenge to keep up with the pastoral needs," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"The Hispanic community, however, is not immune from the nation’s growing secularism, which concerns all religions, as church attendance seems less important to people," Walsh continued, "and people move from religion to religion and declare themselves spiritual rather than religiously affiliated."

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, said he was surprised by the sharp rise in Latino "nones."

“They are saying: established religions of both denominations are not attracting me. And I think it’s a wake-up call for Catholics and evangelicals to allocate all our resources on the next generation.”

The survey was conducted in English and Spanish between May 24-July 28, 2013, among a sample of 5,103 Hispanic adults living in the United States, according to Pew.

The margin of error for results based on all respondents is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

CNN's Gustavo Valdes contributed to this report.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • evangelicals • Faith • Latino issues • Lost faith • Nones • Polls • Protestant • Trends

soundoff (538 Responses)
  1. Concert in an Egg

    Bible Fan Fiction

    This Chapter: Judgment Day

    The fires were as a giant ocean with demons fishing using long poles. Broken souls hung from hooks, dangling above the heat, toes just touching; blistering and blistering again. Satan’s flying minions picked the bones of those well-done and the enormous iron gates were shut tight by their own weight.

    The bargaining table sat in the bow of a thickly made, plain wooden boat. The table was round with a green felt top. One by one the souls came seeking good fortune. Satan looked on as the dealer tabulated a naked man’s losses. All his chips in a pile, he begs for a chance.

    The flaming pool of magma slurped in yet another pair of legs and feet as two pot-bellied men were hurled into the molten bath. Two creatures looked on; thrilled by the spectacle. One with drum and horn, face long and crude, his wooden shoes and silk robes out of place. The other walked on feet like a chicken and thought himself quite fancy with his hair of wool and blue undergarment.

    Neither frog nor human he had two arms and two legs. His body was his face and his face was their torture chamber. Two brown eyes opposed each other as they kept watch over the slaughter. He grabbed the two sides of his large round mouth and stretched it wide to fit more filthy naked sinners.

    One of the women was pregnant as they both stared down into the deep black waters they would drown in. Holding their arms behind their backs, a small man with a red-handled dagger the length of his arm and wearing a shimmering peacock feather as a coat forced them to join the other tormented souls swimming in the oil.

    Sharpening the serrated edges of the jagged knife while sitting on its edge. A naked man, his scrotum ripped from his groin. Forever he will straddle the grotesque torture device while sickly wet brown frogs stand guard against his escape.

    May 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Bible Fan Fiction

      This chapter: Jesus confronts the money-lenders in the temple.

      One man stared over his left shoulder at Jesus and saw the flames burning in the Nazarene’s eyes. Terrified, he hauled up his Santa sack and scrambled for safety, away from the Lord’s whip. To his left another money lender with a fine mustache takes time from the violence to observe a comely young ladies breast as it peaks over her robe. Sheep bleat and men scream as the chaos roars and the Lord Jesus Christ beats the holy living shit out of the bankers and their whores and livestock. They should have given Jesus that loan.

      May 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Bible Fan Fiction

        This chapter: Mark 3

        He was a magician, and the Sabbath was big business, but his withered hand was preventing him from pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and the Herodians demanded this trick under penalty of torture and death. The Lord Jesus entered the synagogue and looked upon the assembly and said unto them, "This man taught me everything I know. Will I not heal him on the Sabbath? The men mumbled to themselves as the magician stretched out his arm and watched as Jesus waved His magic wand over the lifeless appendage. Following the miracle, Jesus learned many card tricks from the magician, including "pick a card, any card".

        May 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          I imagine it's very frustrating, not to mention humbling, when you feel the need to carry on conversations with yourself on an internet blog. I don't now for certain, but I would imagine there are places you could get help.

          May 7, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
  2. unsername1

    they are getting test of America.

    May 7, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
    • fintronics

      not that say what you?

      May 8, 2014 at 11:49 am |
  3. Concert in an Egg

    The young minority of young people that survive to become an atheist (or something other than religious) now have access to the internet and all that implies. Instantaneous access to facts and information. Now the peer pressure of the atheists on the religious has teeth, and common sense has readily available evidence to back it up. This is converting more people who are now beginning to pass down this information. This trend is now showing positive results for those of no religion. For the faithful, I am afraid the paint is really starting to peel now. Soon the superstitions and mythologies of all religions will be the stuff of history.

    May 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      While that is barely coherent I think you get the gist of it.

      May 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
  4. justforme2

    See what education can do for you!!

    May 7, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
  5. Vic

    Well, I guess there is a silver lining in all of this. Maybe we can look at it as a phase that many Christians from all demographics go through before a renewal, and that would be a good thing, for since organized religion, hence dogma, doctrine, religious practices, etc., is the primary cause for parting ways, it is a wake up call for the Christian church. I myself believe that the Christian church shall "focus" on the Message of Salvation, hence the Lord Jesus Christ, rather than religious legalism.

    Early on:

    May 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
    • bostontola

      Silver lining or whistling past the graveyard?

      May 7, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
      • Vic

        I believe it's more like trumpeting "out with the old, and in with new."

        May 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • Vic

          "out with the old, and in with the new."

          May 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
        • bostontola

          I agree wholeheartedly.

          May 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "out with the faith, and in with the facts."

          May 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
        • Vic

          Ah..I saw that coming!


          "Out with the old—religious legalism, and in with the new—Message of Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ."

          May 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • Concert in an Egg

          Out with the drink and in with the stink!

          May 7, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
        • Madtown

          in with the new—Message of Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ."
          I'd prefer you leave Christ out of it, until every last human on earth knows who Christ is without having to jump through hoops. I think the "new" message should be: we're ALL the same, all humans, in terms of the intrinsic value of human life. The religion, is what's best for humanity. If you want to label it, something close to "humanism".

          May 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
  6. Reality

    And the important note in the commentary:

    "More than half (55%) say they just "drifted away" from organized religion. A similar number (52%), say they no longer believed in the teachings of their childhood religion."

    Just more evidence that the Internet is destroying religion. And with lightning speed these days. Fiber optics rule !

    May 7, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • readerpan

      Contemporaneity is not evidence of causation.

      May 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
  7. bostontola

    We all have beliefs.

    Scientists believe scientific results because objective evidence confirms rather than denies an idea.

    Theists believe religious dogma because they were told to, or they want to believe it, or they feel it.

    One person can exhibit both and often does, but they are very different kinds of beliefs.

    A scientist believes in evolution because of the overwhelming evidence supporting it and the total lack of evidence for any alternative.

    Theists come in thousands of flavors, each believing different things about God and creation because no objective evidence is required.

    May 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • new-man

      the prophet Daniel served as President under 3 Babylonian Kings. One of the things of note about Daniel was that he had a true understanding of science and of spiritual things. Daniel was described as well favored, skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science.
      There was not a conflict such that spiritual principles and science seemed to be in opposition to each other.

      and while scientists take on a technical arrogance of thinking that through the power of their own intellect, they can know and explain all things, not knowing how blind they are to the unseen world; religionists on the other hand do have a corresponding spiritual arrogance.

      For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
      Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be [truly] wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see.

      Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.

      May 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • bostontola

        Maybe you missed this line in the OP:

        "One person can exhibit both and often does, but they are very different kinds of beliefs. "

        May 7, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
        • new-man

          in reality, in some ways I do agree with your post and that's the reason I also included that religionists can be equally arrogant in their knowledge of spiritual things just as scientists.

          One of the things I'm striving for is the balance that Daniel had in merging both the scientific (logic) and the spiritual. It's a journey, I guess.

          May 7, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • fintronics

          Yes, knowledge of the imaginary is very important!

          May 8, 2014 at 11:52 am |
      • bostontola

        "not knowing how blind they are to the unseen world"

        To the contrary. Scientists are very aware of that. They have developed telescopes, microscopes, sensors that detect light outside our visual range, detectors that "hear" sound outside our audio range. These things are all outside our "sight", are real and verifiable.

        What is worse, is to close your eyes to things that are visible. To willfully deny evolution as an example.

        I wouldn't fault someone for not seeing an invisible thing (huge kudos to scientists who made the invisible, visible), I do fault people for denying what is right under their noses.

        May 7, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
        • new-man

          as I said above, the balance will be achieved / or the journey completed when we no longer have a conflict between the scientific and the spiritual, because they're both of God. = yes, I had to put that in there. ^o^

          May 7, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • bostontola

          You may be surprised to hear that I don't disagree that there is no fundamental conflict between science and God at this point. There are many conflicts (factual, logical, moral) between science/modern society and many religious sects/denominations.

          May 7, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
        • new-man

          I am indeed surprised, but in a good way.

          For now there are many religious sects/denominations due to man-made doctrines and people who believe but are too lazy to read the word and seek God for themselves so they hook themselves to a sect/denomination and are taught the leaders belief system instead of the pure word.

          This is why we're exhorted to.. earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

          May 7, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
        • bostontola

          We're probably talking about different Gods, but that's ok. The God of the bibles is incompatible with my world view.

          May 7, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
        • new-man

          you know, after I left this post, I said, I know we're probably not talking about the same God and I should have stated that. You're right though, it wouldn't have made a difference to my post as I can only speak of who I know and reference Him.

          glad you saw it the same way.

          May 7, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
        • Madtown

          people who believe but are too lazy to read the word
          The word is man-made, all of it. You can seek God, without having a clue that there's such a thing as christianity that exists. Curiously, or not, you can find God.

          May 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
  8. dylanesq

    I see this as a very positive trend. Maybe our youth are seeing through the delusional nonsense that religions all peddle.

    May 7, 2014 at 5:54 pm |
  9. wptalker

    More and more are realizing religion is all ancient myth and folklore, god is pretend, RCC is a dangerous cult that rips off the poor to sustain their riches and power.

    May 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
  10. new-man

    Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Without Faith, it's impossible to please God!
    Faith is not blind as unbelievers love to say.

    In God's kingdom, Believing is seeing! You're not designed to go somewhere you cannot see!
    when you can see things others can't, you can go where they can't; you can have what they can't; you can do things they can't because believing is seeing. we don't see with our eyes, we see with our minds. that's why we're called to renew the mind, not the eye and this is crucial because your feet cannot take you to where your mind has never been.

    Faith is your evidence... it is your "ti.tle deed". You have to possess it, show it, and use it.
    For God to evict satan, He has to see your "ti.tle deed" (your faith).
    Satan cannot invade what is covered by faith/your legal ti.tle deed. The devil knows and understands spiritual principles and uses them against mankind every day. The ones ignorant of this are the ones going around decrying Faith, while simultaneously asking 'where is [your] God?

    cr: Bill Winston

    May 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
    • Alias

      I tis also impossible to please a god that doesn't exist.

      May 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • wptalker

        I agree. God is pretend.

        May 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
    • bostontola

      "we see with our minds". That part is very true and powerfully put.

      It's sad that so many believers choose willful blindness with regard to evolution, and some other sciences, as well as willful blindness to the human rights of some minority groups.

      May 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • new-man

        I will choose to settle on the parts we agree on.

        May 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • bostontola

          I wouldn't argue with that.

          May 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Let us pray:

      Dear Lord, thank you for all the sorrow you have brought to us on this day and all the many dark days of the past when you ignored our suffering and did nothing to prevent horrifying atrocities from taking place. Your worthlessness is the key to salvation. Lord, thank you for the hundreds of murders today and all of the many murders yet to come in the days ahead. Your lack of compassion for human life inspires us all to ponder your ineffectiveness. Heavenly Father, we gather in the shadow of your careless disregard for us. Your lack of concern over our lives and injustices against us teaches us well the nature of the one true God. Bless us with your absence and complete lack of effectiveness against evil. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

      May 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
    • dylanesq

      I suggest you bury your head in the toilet and then gargle hard.

      May 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
  11. kenman14

    This just finally reveals the myths that we've been sold for years, that all these ILLEGALS coming here and having anchor babies are people of faith and family, when they're really just the ones that want all the free AND ILLEGAL opportunities that a sucker nation like ours has become for such liberal causes at any costs!

    Just another piece of evidence that the liberal/progressive agenda destroys "families" and makes them into social services enterprises! And these are the ones that are changing the political, cultural, social complexion of OUR nation, and they're doing it ILLEGALLY and with the blessings of the liberal Democrats, no pun intended!

    May 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
    • bostontola

      Your post is evidence why they are leaving religion in droves.

      May 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  12. Lee

    It's highly likely that something got lost in translation with this survey.

    On another note, most people don't identify themselves with any denomination these days, but just as a 'Christian'.

    May 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
    • Lee

      Also, the survey to be meaningful must not have loose categories such as "none" or "other", these categories lends to confusion with the interpretation of results.

      Ask the respondents to identify themselves as

      -Other-Specify the religion here–>Sufism etc. ,
      -Not willing to disclose

      May 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
      • Lee

        Add to that list,


        May 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • joey3467

          Both are covered under Christian.

          May 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
      • SeaVik

        What's wrong with "None"? My religion is "None".

        May 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
      • agentxyz

        you forgot nudist

        May 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • Concert in an Egg

        Don't forget Rastafarian mon.

        May 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
    • SeaVik

      I assume the "lost in translation" comment is meant as a joke about the fact that some hispanics speak a different language? Obviously, there's no doubt that fewer and fewer people believe the Christian myth now that access to information continues to increase exponentially.

      May 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
  13. noahsdadtopher

    Sigh. That was the wrong video. I give up.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
    • new-man

      don't give up yet...

      May 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
    • Alias

      Your claims of proof are wrong, your links are wrong – it kind of seems appropriate to me.

      May 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
  14. bostontola

    "While the demise of organized religion, specifically Catholicism, is most dramatic among young Latinos, the overall shifts are broad-based, according to Pew, affecting men and women; foreign-born and U.S. natives; college graduates and those with less formal education."

    This may provide hope for all of us. Hope for atheists that humanity is dropping it's security blanket. Hope for Christians that the second coming is near.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    I think the devil is keeping topher's amazing new proof away from the eyes of the world.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
  16. bostontola

    Perfect. I clicked on the play button and a note came up: "This video does not exist"

    I wonder if the same note comes up for the video ti.tled "God Evidence".

    May 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
  17. Dyslexic doG

    this is the reason for the forced retirement of the last Pope and the "New Pope" PR campaign (with its photo ops and selfies and tweeting) that we have been witnessing of late. It's all a membership drive by a scared Vatican.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  18. Doris

    Topher – a video post doesn't work if you're posting from a playlist (with a really long URL); you have to find the stand-alone video on youtube and then it should work.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    in the information age, religious people are finding it impossible to keep their children in their cult's bubble of lies. With access to facts, children are seeing the foolishness of religion and joining the world of reality. Christianity is dying out, and it's going to happen a lot quicker than anyone expects. A couple more generations and the christian sky fairy will be in a category with Thor and Zeus as a quaint primitive supersti.tion.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • Alias

      Give Topher a chance. He is formulating an elaborate plan to keep his child sheltered from all other ideas until he is hopelessly convinced.

      May 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Its all about the presentation.
        Whereas my library has a "Science Fiction" shelf, the fundamentalist Christian's has a "Science/Fiction" section.

        May 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • fintronics

          "the fundamentalist Christian's has a "Science/Fiction" section."

          Sadly, that's where they file the books on evolution.

          May 8, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • sam stone

        "death is unnatural"

        that pretty much sums up all you need to know about gopher

        May 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
  20. bostontola

    I wonder if the religious right's position on immigration has any impact.

    May 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
    • Concert in an Egg

      Under our laws, Mary, Joseph and Jesus would be sent to three different prisons. Christ himself was a migrant and a refugee.

      May 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.