There has been a marked increase in religious diversity in Mexico in the last 30 years as Roman Catholic church affiliation has decreased from almost near ubiquity to the present 88 percent - with Protestants being the largest other faith group.
According to an analysis of the 2000 national census there are currently 6.5 million non-Catholics in Mexico. The number of Catholics decreased from 96.2 percent to 88 percent since 1970, according to a study by Mexico's National Institute of Statistics, Geography, and Information Technology (INEGI). The study counted those age 5 and above.
According to Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada, which reported on the findings, the Catholic Church "has lost its position of almost monopolistic privilege and dominance since the 1970's due to the increased diversity."
La Jornada said that while the Catholic "structure" is playing a greater role in politics, it was losing its pull and spiritual leadership in society.
Presently there are more than 4.5 million Protestants in the country, which include "Historic Protestants" and "Evangelicals." The rise in non-Catholic Christians corresponds to the increasing numbers of Protestant evangelical churches throughout Central and South America.
The greatest change can be seen in the Southern state of Chiapas, where the Catholic population went down from 91.2 percent in 1970 to 63.8 percent in 2000. Chiapas has been a state where there has been much tension between the government and a rebellion movement known as the Zapatistas.
The states with the highest numbers of non-catholics are Campeche, Chiapas, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Sinaloa and Tabasco.
States which are more than 95 percent Catholic are Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Quer