Growing Evangelical Hispanics

The Pew Forum posted an article about the growth of Hispanic Evangelicals. This is an exciting happening in the American evangelical world. Not because there is something inherently wrong with being Catholic, but because it seems that for many Latinos and Hispanics Catholicism has, unfortunately, been a hindrance to faith development.

Although I am not in a position, geographically, to fellowship and worship with many Hispanics – In Fort Wayne there is a Bi-lingual evangelical church called Grace Point South – , I hope that churches and Evangelical Christian communities reach out to Hispanics who are converting from Catholicism and/or non-belief. This may come with some significant cultural challenges for the typical Evangelical world. The style of worship, preaching, music and organization will most likely be unfamiliar and unattractive to Hispanics. More significantly, the orthopraxy and theology of many Evangelical churches may not be relevant for the ex-Catholic Hispanic population.

From my observation, the churches with the most potential of welcome these groups would be those communities that come from an African-American heritage or those who lend themselves to a more charismatic theology and style. It will be interesting to see what occurs as this trend further develops. Hopefully it will be the opening to create a more diverse and multi-cultural local church.

Here are some other highlights of a study conducted by researchers at the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

* Half of Hispanic evangelicals said they converted from another religion, and 43 percent said they were former Catholics.

* Even among Catholics, Hispanics prefer a more animated form of worship – 54 percent of Hispanic Catholics called their worship style “charismatic,” compared to 12 percent of non-Hispanic Catholics.

* More than two-thirds of Hispanics, 68 percent, identified themselves as Catholics. A third of all Catholics in the U.S. are Hispanic.

* The next-largest religious category — 15 percent of those surveyed — was those who said they were “born-again” or “evangelical” Christians.

* In a comparison of Latinos of all religions and their non-Latino counterparts, more Latinos said that the Bible is the literal word of God.

* Among Latinos, 74 percent of the foreign-born said they were Catholic, compared with 58 percent of U.S.-born Latinos.

* About 20 percent of the Hispanics surveyed had changed religion, though a quarter of these had simply become unaffiliated with any religion.

* More than 80 percent of converts cited their desire for a more direct, personal experience with God as the main reason for their conversion.

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