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Spirituality and Religion Among Hispanics Age 40+

Although Hispanics comprise one-third of the membership of the Roman Catholic Church, many Hispanics have converted to Evangelical, Pentecostal, or other Protestant denomination, and others no longer practice any religious faith. This report explores not only the reasons for this exodus from the Catholic Church but also the reasons why many Hispanic Catholics remain faithful. It describes the Catholic devotions and rituals that both Catholics and some former Catholics practice, the reasons for leaving the Catholic Church, the challenges of transmitting faith to the next generation, and the impact of religion on political ideology.

The study is based on 1,000 bilingual telephone interviews with Hispanics ages 40 and older conducted during February and March 2007 and eight focus groups, conducted in New York City, Houston, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Of those surveyed...

  • more than nine in ten believe in God, and the word spirituality, is much more likely to evoke images of God or a Supreme Being than it is to evoke images of religion/church or inner states.
  • 41 percent are practicing Catholics, while 28 percent have fallen away from the Church and nearly one-third (31%) have never been Catholic.
  • 29 percent are Protestant, and 30 percent practice no religion.
  • most current and former Catholics are bothered by the conduct of some priests and the lack of community feeling and fervor of congregations. Former Catholics who are now Protestants are most bothered by lack of emphasis on the Bible.
  • both Catholics (35%) and Protestants (41%) are more likely to be politically conservative than unchurched former Catholics (28%) or the unchurched who have never been Catholic (25%).
  • Conservatives are the most likely to say that religion has played an extremely or very important role in shaping their political views (55%).

This telephone survey was conducted for AARP between February 23 and March 13, 2007 by QSA Integrated Research Solutions. For more information, contact Xenia Montenegro of AARP Knowledge Management at 202-434-3538.

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