(Photo: Arizona Daily Star / Chris Richards, File)
Perhaps hungry to assimilate into American culture, more second and third generation Hispanics raised as Catholics are finding the worship style of evangelical churches in the U.S. more to their liking and leaving the centuries old religion.
Although the trend has been reported in the past, a recent National Public Radio (NPR) article points to the shift led by young Latinos as the major reason for the increasing numbers of U.S. Hispanics leaving the Catholic church.
Even more specifically, a movement toward Pentecostal churches may be where the influx of Hispanics from the Catholic faith is seen most, according to NPR.
Reverend Wilfredo de Jesus of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago believes the Christian Church in the U.S. is hugely impacted by the country's Hispanics.
"No doubt, every denomination would have decreased in membership if it had not been for Hispanic growth, including our fellowship, the Assemblies of God,” De Jesus said as reported by NPR.
In a 2009 study reported on by The Christian Post, the trend was already quite visible and not only toward Pentecostal.
“You cannot help but notice the changing relationship between Hispanics and the Catholic Church,” said George Barna, whose Barna Group published the research. “While many Hispanic immigrants come to the United States with ties to Catholicism, the research shows that many of them eventually connect with a Protestant church.”
Isabel Monje, founder of the Christian outreach ministry called Transformacion Mundial, told CP on Friday that she has seen a revival among Hispanics who were formerly Catholic worldwide during the last three decades.
“This revival (of U.S. Catholics) started in South America,” she said.
Monje said a big reason young Hispanics gravitate to evangelical and Pentecostal churches is because of the Latinos’ love for music.
The shift amongst Hispanics began in the 1980s’ with Marcos Witt, she said. Witt is the son of a missionary couple who lived in Mexico. He is a four-time Latin Grammy Award-winning Christian singer and pastor who has sold more than 10 million records in México, Latin America, and the United States.
“Marcos Witt started in Mexico and then he came to the U.S. and he helped start a revival,” Monje said. “Because of him so many other worship leaders started copying him and followed in his footsteps.
“As Latinos, we are into music. It’s in our blood. Those (in the Catholic community) were not exposed to churches doing concerts. The second generation wants to be more Americanized and they know that American Christians do concerts and seminars,” she explained.
However, Monje said she believes it is something more that worship music that is stirring the Hispanic community.
“Christians are evangelizing more aggressively in the streets, as well as through concerts and such,” she said. “Also, it’s more about the word of God, as we can see, as they say in the last days that the Holy Spirit will be pouring through everybody.
"Christians are [currently more] into missions and into helping the community so all the [Catholics] see that Christians working in the community make a difference. They want to know more about why Christians are doing what they are doing,” she said.