The good, the bad, and the ugly of this campaign season has exposed the depth of some of the United States’ racial and ethnic fault lines. But the fault lines themselves are moving. The 2016 electorate will be the most racially and ethnically diverse ever, due largely to U.S.-born Hispanic youth and naturalizations of Asian immigrants.
The Pew Research Center’s look at “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States” also examined their beliefs, behavior, and views on social issues. It finds that, beyond the church doors in the lives of the faithful, there are distinct differences between Hispanic evangelicals and Hispanic Catholics:
Catholics are less likely than evangelicals to:
- Attend services weekly — Catholic, 40 percent; evangelical, 71 percent
- Pray daily — Catholic, 61 percent; evangelical, 84 percent
- Take a literal view of the Bible — Catholic, 45 percent; evangelical, 63 percent
- Think abortion should be illegal in all/most cases — Catholic, 54 percent; evangelical, 70 percent
A new report on the “Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos” reads very much like a biography of Fernando Alcantar.
But once he moved to California after high school, his faith journey diverged — and derailed. Today, Alcantar, 36 calls himself a humanist.
The Pew survey report released Wednesday is subtitled: “Nearly One in Four Latinos are former Catholics.” And Alcantar is one of them.
I was raised bilingual and bicultural in New Mexico, the state with the highest percentage of Latino population, nearly 50 percent. In addition to working as an environmental advocate, I am also a member of the rising Latino generation, the fastest growing young demographic in the country. Fifty thousand Latinos turn 18 every month. To put this in perspective, Pew Research Center estimates that by mid-century, Latinos will comprise nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population.
When I was 18, I had just graduated from high school with several years of soccer at Santa Fe’s 7,000-foot elevation under my belt. I was on my way to college, and would go on to complete a master’s of science in an interdisciplinary environmental sciences program.
What my experiences do not include are those that are far too common among Latino 18-year-olds who are disproportionately affected by carbon pollution. Carbon pollution contributes directly to climate change, in turn endangering Latinos due to the resulting health and environmental repercussions. One expected climate impact in the U.S. is more smog in areas with poor air quality, translating to more asthma attacks for our young people. In fact, the Latino community is one of the hardest hit: Hispanic children are nearly two times as likely to be hospitalized for asthma as white children. Other illnesses related to poor air quality, such as chronic bronchitis, are also prevalent within Latino communities, yet nearly half of all Latinos in the U.S. live in counties that often violate ground-level pollution standards.
It was past 10 on a Sunday night in Spokane. The wedding was over and I was sitting in the hallway of the hotel in my pajamas reading my email by iPhone while my grandson slept in our dark room.
I saw an email from White House sent by a woman named Julie inviting me to meet that Wednesday with President Barack Obama and his senior staff "to discuss the moral urgency of passing immigration reform ... Please RSVP to me by no later than noon Monday ... "
This was a joke. Why would I get an invitation? I emailed friends in the Evangelical Immigration Table, and by Monday morning they confirmed it was real. How could I say no?
I found out later on Monday as we were flying home from Spokane that this meeting was to be a small gathering with the president, his senior staff and a handful of faith leaders in the Oval Office. I laughed out loud.
Martha Rodriguez always thought Catholic school was expensive and out of reach — not a place for her kids. But when the time came to send her daughter to the same public middle school she’d struggled at decades earlier, Rodriguez decided to check out what the church had to offer.
“I was intimidated, I thought everyone there would be rich,” said Rodriguez, the daughter of first-generation Mexican immigrants. “But when I went, I was surprised — and kicking myself for not sending my kids sooner.”
Rodriguez now spends $800 a month to send two of her children to Catholic schools in Los Angeles. Her husband works as a paralegal, and she’s out of work, so tuition cuts into the family budget. But Rodriguez says it’s worth it to give her kids opportunities she never had.
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What was most telling about the disagreement between the two men was their discussion of Luke 4. Mohler argued the passage should be understood in light of how he interpreted the preaching and teaching of Paul and the other apostles. This means that when Jesus said that he came to bring good news to the poor that good news was personal salvation.
Wallis argued that yes, personal salvation is one part of that good news, but that the other part is the Kingdom of God breaking into the world and transforming societal relationships as well. When the Gospel is proclaimed, it is good news for a poor person's entire being, community and world -- not just his or her soul.
First, it was encouraging to hear Mohler spend a lot of time emphasizing that working for justice is essential to fulfillment of the Great Commission. Throughout the night he repeated his concern that a lot of Churches are REALLY bad at making disciples who actually do the things Jesus told us to do. As the president of one of the largest seminaries in the world, it will be interesting to see if he is able to train a generation of pastors who will do things differently. My concern is that he is missing the connection between his theology and the failure of Christians to actually do justice.