Most Latino Catholics are charismatic believers: Charismatic and Catholic identities reinforce each other

May 15, 2007

One of the largest national surveys of U.S. Latinos finds that nearly two-thirds are Catholics and 54 percent of them have embraced charismatic and Pentecostal beliefs. Twenty percent of U.S. Latinos identify with Protestant churches, but especially with Pentecostal congregations.

Even many Latino Catholics who do not identify themselves as charismatic believers “appear deeply influenced by spirit-filled forms of Christianity,” said the study. Released April 25, the study was based on 4,600 interviews conducted jointly by the Pew Hispanic Project and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

“The clear finding here is that taking on a charismatic identity seems to be strengthening rather than weakening Catholic identity so that those two things are able to coexist and . . . reinforce each other in some very significant ways,” said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum.

Politically, the Democratic Party has a nearly 3-to-1 advantage among voting-eligible Latino Catholics (48 percent vs. 17 percent for Republicans).

Eight percent in the survey called themselves “secular,” and only 5 percent identified with mainline Protestant denominations. Of mainline Latinos, 65 percent were born in the U.S. and 45 percent say English is their primary language.