We reported on the latest Barna research earlier this week. But one of the most surprising observations of this year’s update to the survey was recognition that latinos are losing their connections with organized religion faster than any other major ethnic group in the U.S.
““The ethnic group that reflected the most profound level of religious change over the last 20 years was Hispanics,” the report says. It adds that Hispanics have changed more than the other two groups both in the degree of religious belief and behavior and across more categories.
How much? Well, in the 14 types of religious belief and behavior Barna measured this January, Hispanics showed “statistically significant change” in nine. And where whites showed drops in single-digit percentage points, most of the Hispanic declines were in the double digits.
Examples: Church attendance for Hispanics has fallen 21 percent, to 33 percent; Bible reading is down from 55 to 30 percent; belief in the accuracy of the Bible has dropped 30 percent to 33 percent. In other words, all three measures have gone from majorities to minorities in 20 years.
Most Hispanics still believe in God as a wise, all-powerful ruler (62 percent) and that their faith is very important to them (51 percent). But those percentages, too, have fallen since 1991 — by 26 percent in the first case, 15 percent in the second.”
The ethnic group who has shown the least erosion of their religious beliefs are the African-American community.
Our experience here in Phoenix has been of an influx of new hispanic members in congregations that seek to be sensitive their culture and their experience. Barna’s report says that this is an exception. According to their numbers the expected migration away from Roman Catholic church into other denominations has been very short-lived. But given Barna’s strong evangelical roots, their use of “protestant” may not necessarily include the liturgical protestant denominations like the Lutherans and the Episcopalians.