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A new poll finds that major changes in religious affiliation are underway among Hispanic Americans, who are becoming less Catholic and more evangelical and unaffiliated.
The poll released Friday by the Public Religion Research Institute shows 53 percent of Hispanics identify as Catholic, compared with 69 percent who say they were raised Catholic as children. Thirteen percent call themselves evangelical today, compared with 7 percent raised evangelical. Twelve percent say they have no religious affiliation, compared with 5 percent who said they were raised that way.
Robert Jones, CEO of the institute, said the religious switching could illuminate the future political inclinations of Latino voters. Many have predicted the growth in evangelicalism a group still heavily associated with conservative voting among Hispanics will bring them to the GOP, “but the rival emergence of religiously unaffiliated Hispanics, who are liberal on a range of issues, serves as an important counterweight,” Jones said in releasing the poll.
Asked if the phrase “cares about people like you” better describes the Democratic or Republican party, 12 percent said the GOP while 43 percent said the Democrats. Thirteen percent said it describes both parties equally and 29 percent said it describes neither party.
“Among Hispanics, perhaps the Democratic Party’s greatest asset is the Republican Party,” said Daniel Cox, the Institute’s research director.