Trends noted in white & Hispanic Catholics
WASHINGTON (RNS)–New research shows that Hispanics who are born Catholic are more likely to remain in the church than white Catholics, and Hispanics who leave the church tend to adopt other faiths, while white Catholics do not.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that in a survey of 982 adults who were born Catholic, 81 percent of Hispanics remained Catholics, compared to 72 percent of whites.
But among “cradle Catholics” who have left the church, researchers found Hispanics were more likely to convert to another faith, while white dropouts were more likely to claim no faith at all.
Most former Catholics (56 percent) said they left the church after age 20. Ten percent said they left by the age of 10, and 34 percent left during their teenage years.
The research echoes earlier findings by the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, which found the portion of Hispanics who labeled themselves Catholics had dropped from 66 percent to 57 percent since 1990.
The newest data cast doubts on the popular notion that Hispanic converts are flocking to Pentecostal churches. While the percentage of Pentecostals in the Hispanic population grew from only 3 percent to 4 percent between 1990 and 2001, those claiming “no religion” more than doubled from 6 percent to 13 percent.