ADVERTISING
 
Saturday, August 18   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
New season
What kind of contents do you enjoy most?






SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Carlos Martínez García
 

The religious change in Latin America (I)

According to a report by Pew Reasearch, the Catholic Church has suffered considerable losses following a move by its members to Evangelical churches.

KAIROS AND CHRONOS AUTHOR Carlos Martínez García TRANSLATOR Noemí Sánchez Read 11 FEBRUARY 2015 12:15 h GMT+1
evangelicals latin america The Evangelical movement has grown across the American continent. Pictured here, March for Jesus in Sao Paulo.

Latin America boasts the majority of the catholic population, whilst at the same time represents a continent in which Protestantism is widely growing. 



A large quantitative study carried out by the Pew Research Center provides evidence of the religious affiliations and practices in 19 countries across the Latin American continent. The document shows, not just the number of different religious beliefs, but also interprets the socio-cultural impact of such diversification.



This study by the Pew Research Center is very broad and contains 310 pages, including an appendix. The title is “Religion in Latin America: Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region” and can be downloaded here.



There are over 425 million Catholics living in Latin America, representing 40 per cent of the world’s total catholic population. Allowing for variations between countries, Latin America’s population was 90 per cent Catholic for most of the 20th century (between 1900 and 1960). That percentage started to decline steadily from the 1960s.



At the end of 2014, as the Pew Research Center finished collecting data, the percentage of adults who belonged to the Catholic faith in Latin America was 69. This downward trend has been identified across the whole continent and, as the Pew research points out, “the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined Evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether.  For example, roughly one-in-four Nicaraguans, one-in-five Brazilians and one-in-seven Venezuelans are former Catholics”.



Of all the people interviewed, 84 per cent said they had grown up in a catholic family, but later chose to either leave the faith or change their affiliation to another religion, bringing the number of Catholics raised in the faith down to 69 per cent.



In contrast, “the pattern is reversed among Protestants and people who do not identify with any religion: while the Catholic Church has lost adherents through religious switching, both Protestant churches and the religiously unaffiliated population in the region have gained members. Just one-in-ten Latin Americans (9%) were raised in Protestant churches, but nearly one-in-five (19%) now describe themselves as Protestants. And while only 4% of Latin Americans were raised without a religious affiliation, twice as many (8%) are unaffiliated today”.



The investigation provides interesting data which show the different patterns of the “de-catholicisation” in Latin America. When analysing the numbers of people responding affirmatively to having been raised within the Catholic faith, we find that Colombia is the country with the largest number moving to different protestant denominations. 74 per cent of Evangelical Colombians had grown up in catholic households. However, Panama showed the smallest percentage, with 15 per cent of Protestants raised in Catholic homes.



Out of eight possible answers to the reason why they had changed Catholicism for Protestantism, the most popular was a search for a personal connection with God. The second reason given was an enjoyment of the style of worship in the new church; the third was a greater emphasis on morality and the forth was a more supportive church towards its members.



The switch from Catholicism to Protestantism in the Continent takes place as the church approaches the people, rather than people searching for a church (median 58 per cent). A key point was the involvement of church in daily life and the places where they meet.



In Peru, 7 per cent of Catholics said they shared their faith at least once a week, whereas 38 per cent of Protestants did the same. In other words, Protestants are five times more active in sharing their faith than Catholics are. In Guatemala the figure is higher both for those Catholics sharing their faith (34 per cent) and Protestants (53 per cent).



Although the move towards Protestantism is seen across all ages, the highest percentage is found in the under 25s group. Geographic mobility contributes to the shifts from one faith to another. The study says that in some of those Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia and Costa Rica), “converts to Protestantism are less likely than Catholics to have a secondary education”.



With good reason, the study emphasizes that the term “Protestant” has a less strict meaning than it has in the United States and, may I add, in Europe. Because, “unlike in the United States, where the labels ‘born again’ and ‘Evangelical’ set certain Protestants apart, in Latin America ‘Protestant’ and ‘Evangelical’ often are used interchangeably”. I would like to point out that the use of “Evangelical” in Latin America is more and more frequent, which has resulted in a watering down of the real concept which identifies Protestantism. This, more than a personal reflection, is a factual observation.



The concept “Protestant” is used by The Pew Research Center  “to refer to members of historical Protestant churches (e.g.,Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Lutherans or Presbyterians), members of Pentecostal churches (e.g., Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Church of God or the Quadrangular Evangelical Church)and members of other Protestant churches”. Perhaps we should note that the Latin American Protestants/Evangelicals (whether from historical churches, Pentecostals, neo-Pentecostals or mega churches from different tendencies) use the short canon Bible (which does not include the Deutero-Canonic books), unlike the Catholic Church.



The report states that the number of those Protestants belonging to historical churches is less than 25 per cent. It also adds that “roughly half say they belong to a Pentecostal church, and, in most countries, at least a quarter say they belong to another Protestant church or that they do not know their denomination”.  It is possible that those who did not identify themselves with a specific denomination did so because they belong to new movements within the Protestant church and do not want to be labelled under an institution. However, as time passes, it may well become a new strand of the Protestant church.



In my next article, I will continue to analyse other data about the religious field in Latin America, provided by the Pew Research Center. 



Carlos Martínez García is a journalist and sociologist. He is a founder of the "Centro de Estudios del Protestantismo Mexicano" (Cenpromex), a network of Evangelical researchers studying Protestantism from different perspectives.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - The religious change in Latin America (I)
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow

A team of Steiger mission is starting conversations about the gospel in the middst of the football celebration in Russia.

 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
VIDEO Video
 
How the loss of universal values led to a loss of civility How the loss of universal values led to a loss of civility

Author Bruce Little: “We have moved from a sense of responsibility to ‘my personal rights’”.

 
Being a peacemaker Being a peacemaker

Ken Sande, Founder and President of Relational Wisdom 360, develops a practical systematic theology for pursuing peace and resolving the conflicts of real life. 

 
“No one should have to leave their values at the door” “No one should have to leave their values at the door”

Author Krish Kandiah talks with politician Tim Farron about the Christian faith, politics and secularism.

 
What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader? What are the essential characteristics of a godly leader?

Clinical Pastoral Counsellor Emoke Tapolyai reflect on three characteristics Christians who have been given leadership roles should develop.

 
Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’ Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’

How can we reach those who call themselves ‘Christians’ but have not experienced a conversion to Christ? Forty missiologists and mission practitioners came together for a Lausanne Movement global consultation in Rome.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.