Last month, PRRI released the 2013 Hispanic Values Survey, which examined how Hispanics’ identities and experiences are influencing their approaches to politics in the United States. Among the survey’s many notable findings was that the religious affiliations of many Hispanics have undergone a significant shift since childhood.
Currently, a majority of Hispanics living in the U.S. identify as Catholic (53 percent), one-quarter (25 percent) identify as Protestant—nearly evenly divided between evangelical Protestant (13 percent) and mainline Protestant (12 percent)—and 12 percent of Hispanics are religiously unaffiliated. Few Hispanics (six percent) identify with a non-Christian religion.
However, although Catholicism remains the dominant religious affiliation among today’s Hispanic adults, it has experienced a notable decline. Today, Hispanic adults are significantly less Catholic, more Protestant, and more unaffiliated than they were as children. Nearly seven-in-ten (69 percent) Hispanics report they were raised Catholic, 16 percent report they were raised Protestant (nine percent as mainline, seven percent as evangelical), and five percent report they were raised without a religious affiliation.
While media reports of religious switching among Hispanics have primarily focused on the growth of Hispanic Protestants, particularly evangelical Protestants or evangelicos, the unaffiliated have experienced similar growth. The Hispanic Values Survey reveals that the growth of Protestantism among Hispanics is really only half of the story. The ranks of both evangelical Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated have grown at roughly equal rates. Evangelical Protestant affiliation has increased by six percentage points (from seven percent to 13 percent), while the percentage of those claiming no religious affiliation has increased by seven percentage points (from five percent to 12 percent). The percentage of mainline Protestants have remained relatively steady; 12 percent of Hispanics identify as mainline Protestant today, compared to nine percent who were raised as mainline Protestant.
Religious identity in the United States is quite fluid with 35 percent of Americans reporting switching religious affiliation over the course of their lifetime. These findings suggest that Hispanics living in the U.S. are not immune to the same forces that influence the degree and direction of religious switching among Americans overall. To learn more about Hispanics in America today, please check out the full report.