A new Gallup study finds significant differences not only in religiosity between Latino Protestants and Catholics in the United States, but in how much each group is losing adherents to the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated.
"Hispanics who are Protestant are significantly more likely to be very religious (60%) than those who are Catholic (43%)," notes Gallup in its analysis of more than 360,000 interviews. By comparison, 40 percent of all Americans are "very religious," according to Gallup.
The "substantial difference" in religiosity between Hispanic Protestants and Catholics, which holds across all age groups (see chart below), is double the difference between American Protestants and Catholics overall. Gallup found 51 percent of U.S. Protestants are very religious, compared to 43 percent of U.S. Catholics.
For this study, Gallup defined religiosity by whether or not participants said "religion is an important part of their daily life" and whether or not they "attend religious services every week or almost every week." Those agreeing to both statements were labeled "very religious," while those agreeing to one but not the other were labeled "moderately religious."
Gallup found 29 percent of Hispanic Protestants are moderately religious, compared to 39 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 29% of all Americans.
Another interesting finding: The rise of the religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," "appears to come at the cost of Catholic identity and not Protestant identity." Notes Gallup:
Catholics in the U.S. today are suffering from an identity shortfall among Hispanics younger than the age of 30. Less than half of 18- to 29-year-old Hispanics are Catholic, significantly lower than the percentage Catholic among those aged 30 and older. This is particularly noteworthy as there is no shortfall of Protestants among young Hispanics compared with older age groups: The Protestant percentage is almost identical across all age groups.
Gallup also noted the continuing trend of U.S. Latinos identifying as Protestant versus Catholic:
"The finding that younger Hispanics are proportionately more Protestant and that all Hispanics are becoming proportionately more Protestant over time suggest that the percentage of Hispanics who are Catholic may continue to slip in the years to come. As noted, this will be particularly true if today's young Hispanics maintain their proportionally higher Protestant identification. ... These patterns suggest the potential for an increase in the relative or proportionate number of Protestant Hispanics in the years ahead.
CT has regularly reported on Latinos, including previous research on Hispanic religiosity, recent evangelical efforts to better understand Hispanics, and whether an immigration slowdown will prompt a bilingual ministry bust.
CT also previously noted the growing "intensity gap" between American Catholics and Protestants.