The exploding number of Hispanics in America virtually guarantees that their religious choices will have a large impact on wider society. While most Hispanics identify themselves as Catholic, surveys show that many end up in Pentecostal, evangelical and other Protestant churches and that second- and third-generation immigrants are not as committed to the Catholic Church as their forebears. Hispanics, who tend to be politically liberal but socially conservative, are heavily courted by both major parties, and their religious and political views are the subject of much research.
In addition to the traditional Christian holidays, Hispanic Catholics observe the Feast Day of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), commemorating the Virgin Mary’s appearance in 1531 before St. Juan Diego, and some Hispanics observe Las Posadas (Dec. 16-24), re-enactments of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem just before Jesus’ birth.
- “Hispanic” and “Latino” are umbrella terms that include people from many countries. Instead of doing stories on“Hispanics,” do stories on Mexican-Americans, Cubans, Nicaraguans, Costa Ricans and others. Become attuned to cultural differences.
- Watch for a growing national voice from Hispanic church leaders on political issues, increasing Spanish language resources for Hispanic Christians, and the continued adaptation of Hispanic cultural traditions into church practice.
- The Roman Catholic Church has numerous Hispanic initiatives, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs, the National Association of Hispanic Priests and the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry.
- Esperanza USA is a network of Hispanic Christians, churches and ministries.
- Most denominations have Hispanic outreach programs, from the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual Hispanic National Church Planting Celebration to the National Association of Evangelicals’ Hispanic Commission to the United Methodist Church’s Office of Hispanic Ministries.
- The 2003 report Hispanic Churches in American Public Life
- The Pew Hispanic Center published the 2005 report Hispanic Trends: A People in Motion and posts other research.
- The University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Latino Religion and the Mexican American Cultural Center do research on Hispanics and religion.
- The Hispanic Theological Initiative and the American Academy of Religion’s Latina/o Religion, Culture and Society Group can provide resources.