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Study: Latin Americans abandoning Catholic Church for evangelical, Protestant churches

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Demographics predict that Brazil will lose Catholic majority by 2030

The Catholic Church is losing members in Latin America at an increasing rate. According to the Pew research Center, many Latin Americans are leaving the church for Pentecostal, Protestant churches. There is even a growing number of Latin Americans who now profess no church affiliation.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >
Protestants now make up 19 percent of the Latin American population, while another eight percent now profess no religious affiliation, a figure reaching 37 percent in Uruguay.

Protestants now make up 19 percent of the Latin American population, while another eight percent now profess no religious affiliation, a figure reaching 37 percent in Uruguay.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
11/17/2014 (5 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Latin America, Pew research study, Catholic Church, Pentecostal


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - If the trend continues, "even Brazil, home to the largest Catholic population on earth, will no longer have a Catholic majority by 2030." These are the findings of Andrew Chesnut, a religious studies professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of a book on evangelicals in Brazil.
 
Pew research found that in 30,000 residents of 18 countries - including Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, only 69 percent of respondents confirmed they were Catholic, even though 84 percent of people said they had been raised in the Church.

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There are increasing numbers of evangelical and Protestant churches in Brazil, luring away former Ca

There are increasing numbers of evangelical and Protestant churches in Brazil, luring away former Catholics with their emphasis on moral teachings.


The figures show that Latin Americans are now following Evangelical Protestantism -- or are leaving religion altogether. A hundred years ago, more than 90 percent of the people in the region were Catholics. Increasing numbers are moving towards evangelical churches, which emphasize moral living and offer practical answers to the question of poverty.

Some South American countries such as Uruguay have almost as many Protestants and religiously unaffiliated people as Catholics.

These results are seen as the underlying reason as to why Pope Francis has called for action in Latin America, where Catholicism has been intimately associated with culture, governance and history for more than 500 years. The Pope has called for Catholics to adopt a more missionary mindset and take their faith to people on the periphery of society.

The surveys also mirror the decline of Catholicism among Hispanics in the United States.

Evangelicals show more enthusiasm for their faith, according to the study. Evangelicals generally attend services and pray more frequently. They are also more likely to adhere to moral teachings and the level to which religion is important in their daily lives.

The level of enthusiasm "often is more demanding in terms of personal commitment," Chesnut says, an academic consultant to the Pew survey.

Protestants now make up 19 percent of the Latin American population, while another eight percent now profess no religious affiliation, a figure reaching 37 percent in Uruguay.

"Christianity in Latin America is thoroughly 'pentecostalized,' with 70 percent of Protestants and 40 percent of Catholics identifying as charismatic," Chesnut said. "If it weren't for Charismatic Renewal, Catholic decline probably would have been even greater."

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