While Catholicism remains the largest faith among Latinos in the U.S., it continues to be on the decline as a larger share of Latinos shift away from religion altogether, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
The survey found 43% of Latino adults identified as Catholic last year, which is a drop from 2010, when 67% of Latinos identified as Catholic. The survey also found that the share of Latinos who are religiously unaffiliated continues to grow. That group now accounts for 30% of Latino adults in the U.S.
Mirka Gallo, communications director of Evanston-based United Catholic Youth Ministries, said the organization has been struggling to get more young people to come to church and participate in church functions.
Visitors to UCYM’s center are met with a Black Lives Matter sign and an LGBTQA+ flag in the conference room, Gallo said. She said that what drew her to the organization is how progressive it is compared to the rest of the Catholic Church.
The Pew survey found young Latinos are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated. Nearly half of Latinos aged 18 to 29 identified as religiously unaffiliated.
“The issues we love to discuss is how we can make the church, our specific church that we are a part of, … more inclusive to the communities that feel oppressed or abandoned by the church, and we also try to figure out how young adults in our age and our time can find God, which is very different compared to how our parents did,” Gallo said.
Juhem Navarro-Rivera, co-founder of the Latinx Humanist Alliance and managing partner of the consulting firm Socioanalítica Research, has been publicly discussing secularism for nearly 20 years.
Navarro-Rivera said some of the reasons behind the continuing decline of Latino Catholics include scandals that have plagued the church throughout the years and people no longer believing in church teachings.