Despite Latino Pope, U.S. Hispanics Still Attracted to Evangelicalism

From NBC New York:

Despite Latino Pope, U.S. Hispanics Still Attracted to Evangelicalism
Catholic and evangelical church leaders agree the future of Catholic and evangelical churches alike are linked to Latinos in the U.S.
By Neil Giardino

Despite growing up in the Catholic Church and attending parochial school, Gladys Verdejo said that for years her faith didn't extend much beyond attending Sunday Mass.

But an invitation to a worship service at the Lamb's Church of Nazarene in New York City seven years ago changed that.

"I fell in love," said Verdejo, who was born in Puerto Rico, of her experience visiting an evangelical church.

Vox Wrote:Likely, she met people who actually love God instead of just having memorized a bunch of rules. She encountered a community that serves each other, that has some joy about them.

On a recent Sunday at the Lamb’s Church, Verdejo was among a large number of Latino congregants worshipping to gospel songs in Spanish. When the Rev. Gabriel Salguero took to the pulpit, he began his sermon with a fiery message: “Education is power! Ignorance is slavery!”

Vox Wrote:Reverend Salguero needs to get more educated about History, then embrace Tradition and continue focusing on conversion of the heart.

According to Verdejo, it was this message of empowerment and a direct connection to the gospel she felt she was lacking in the Catholic Church. “I feel more comfortable and at home here. I have a lot to learn still, but it's great,” she said.

Shifting Denomination

As millions of Catholics throughout the country await Pope Francis’s first U.S. visit this September, the steady movement of Hispanics, like Gladys Verdejo, away from the Catholic Church underscores a dilemma for the church: Despite efforts to attract and retain U.S. Latinos through expansion of lay ministry positions and support for immigration reform, many Hispanics continue to convert to an evangelical church or abandon their faith altogether.

Vox Wrote:Why wouldn't they? The Novus Ordo way of doing things is so Protestantized it likely doesn't much matter to most people. So why go to a fake Protestantized faith community when you can go to a real Prot community and get just that:  community. Along with people talking about what they see as true conversion, truly trusting Christ, giving your life to Him, allowing Him to change your heart. And then there are the potlucks and picnics and people who get together to have fun in other ways, and study the Bible together. There's no reason whatsoever why traditional Catholics can't have it all -- which is exactly how things are supposed to be. The earliest Catholics acted as a community, and in the Middle Ages, everyone's lives centered around the liturgical year. Everyone was on the same page theologically speaking and their lives were rich and full, not filled with watered-down Catholicism that's guarded none of the joy, pageantry, and community our ancestors had. Our neighborhoods have been destroyed, and we've done nothing about it.

[Image: slaughterofthecities.JPG]

The pope is expected to speak about immigrant rights at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia later this fall. In a nod to U.S. Hispanic Catholics — who comprise 17 percent of the population and 38 percent of U.S. Catholics — the pope will also offer a historic canonization Mass in Spanish for the Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary who established mission churches in California.

Addressing Latinos in Spanish “will be an unquestioned acknowledgment of the importance of Latino communities and Latino Catholics in the United States,” said Professor Luis Fraga, director of the Institute for Latino Studies and professor of Transformative Latino Leadership at the University of Notre Dame.

After the pope's 2013 inauguration, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, presumed the evangelical church's success in drawing in U.S. Latinos would diminish. 

“We [Latino Evangelicals] expected Pope Francis to, in a very measurable manner, slow down the exodus from Catholicism to Evangelicals in Latin America and here in America. But guess what? He’s not slowing down the exodus,” he said.

In fact, Pew Research Center polling from last year notes that among Latinos between 30 to 49, “the net movement has been away from Catholicism and toward both evangelical Protestantism and no religious affiliation.”

"I Experienced the Presence of God"

After the service at the Lamb’s Church of Nazarene in Manhattan, Katira Castro de Lopez, 34, of Queens, New York, chatted with parishioners as her two children played.

Born in Puerto Rico and baptized in the Catholic Church, Castro de Lopez said she was a teenager when she first visited an evangelical church.

“I experienced the presence of God. It was tangible. I’ve never experienced that feeling in my life ever before,” she said.

The Catholic Church has experienced a net loss of members for decades, and evangelical Protestantism has woven its way into Latino immigrant communities since the 1940s. While the greater part of Latinos in the U.S. still belong to the Catholic Church, the Pew data show that this majority continues to shrink as evangelical Protestant and unaffiliated groups rise among U.S. Latinos. According to the research, nearly one-quarter of U.S. Latinos are now former Catholics.

Evangelical Community-Building

Rodriguez’s Sacramento-based organization, which encompasses over 40,000 member-churches representing millions of Latino Evangelicals, is the largest Latino Christian organization in the country. Rodriguez said intense community-building efforts continue to draw Hispanics to the evangelical church.

“You’re Salvadoran; we prepare your food and we sing your songs. You’re Mexican; we sing your music at church. You don’t have to abandon your culture when you come to our parish,” Rodriguez said.

Vox Wrote:Your culture revolves around the Catholic Church, you sillies. But it's nice to know that you'd give up the Faith for a bowl of pottage calavasa.

The church isn’t just offering cultural affirmation. Rodriguez said it’s a message of personal and spiritual empowerment, including a message of financial prosperity, that’s attracting an increasing number of Latino immigrants who have experienced poverty.

Vox Wrote:Ahhh, the good ole "prosperity 'gospel'". Sure, everyone wants money (well, a handful of Franciscans aside, and even they have to eat). So sell the Latinos lies and they will come. Attend "church" here, "plant a seed," and grow rich. Oorah!

“We validate the American dream. The Catholic Church is very ambiguous — almost silent, if not antagonistic — to the idea that America does represent social economic vertical mobility,” Rodriguez said.

Vox Wrote:Um, no, the Catholic Church focuses on God, ya goof. She's not a stockbroker, for crying out loud.

Penance and Power

Rodriguez said the evangelical church’s inclusion of spiritual, social, and financial empowerment in gospel teachings resonates with Latino churchgoers.

Among the ways the evangelical church empowers, said Rodriguez, is by mobilizing congregants around social and political movements, and by using its leverage to persuade Congress on immigration reform.

Vox Wrote:Just what we need here in the U.S. More evangelicals, but these ones who are very uneducated (generally speaking), and big social grievances, need for government financial assistance, and in competition with the already unemployed low wage workers that are already here. Just great. Wrote:Several attempts have been made to estimate the costs of immigration to Texas, and like the population estimates, the results are often colored by the perspectives and assumptions of the authors. In 1992, Rice University economist Donald Huddle estimated a nationwide total cost of immigration (legal and illegal) of $14.4 billion, and a cost to Texas of $4.6 billion, of which $1.02 billion was a cost of illegal immigration. The Urban Institute, in response, countered later that year with a lower nationwide cost of $6.9 billion. Huddle then did another study the following year, encompassing many other costs previously not measured, totaling $29 billion (nationwide). One reason for the dramatic growth in the costs is that Huddle included many new costs, such as displacement of American workers. Professor Huddle again took
a look at Texas costs in a 1996 study. Huddle found that immigration to Texas would cost taxpayers a net $7.2 billion
and cost the state 248,000 jobs. About $1.5 billion was from illegal immigrants.

Even more startling were Huddle’s projections for the future. Estimating an immigrant population growth that is very close to the actual number, Huddle predicted an annual cost of $10 billion by 2006. Assuming the same proportion were from illegal immigration, Huddle predicted Texas could spend $2.1 billion a year annually. In fact, research done since Huddle indicates that number is likely low.

The most recent study was conducted by FAIR in mid-2004, found a cost of $4.7 billion, by only looking at three distinct areas of cost – health care, education and criminal justice. FAIR found an estimated tax benefit of $1 billion, for a net cost of $3.7 billion for Texas.

For its part, the Catholic Church has worked to empower U.S. Latinos for decades, Luis Fraga said. One successful way, he said, is the Church continues to affirm its Latino base is by expanding the appointment of Latino deacons.

“There is an explicit attempt to appoint individuals who have language knowledge, cultural capital, life experience directly related to Latino communities, and give them very important roles in ministering to Hispanic communities,” he said.

Fraga added that Catholic social charities, local parishes and organizations like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development — the Church’s domestic anti-poverty program which works to address immigration reform and assist low-income communities — have been highly responsive to the needs of immigrant communities. Initiatives by Latino dioceses across the U.S. are anchoring the Catholic Church, according to Fraga.

“The growth in the Catholic Church — at least the slowing of the decline — of strong Catholic congregants is directly related to the increased presence of Latino immigrant communities,” he said.

Mar Muñoz-Visoso, executive director of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, describes the Catholic Church’s efforts to minister to Hispanic communities as all-embracing.

“We have close to 5,000 parishes in the United States that do have some kind of ministry for Hispanic immigrants,” she said.

Muñoz-Visoso also said that 47 percent of lay ministry positions in the U.S., including youth ministers, parish managers, and religious educators, are filled by Latinos.

“[T]here is something very impressive there because it really means that we’re preparing the next generation of Latinos for the Church,” she said.

On Immigration

As trends in American Christianity continue to indicate a decline in membership, both Catholic and evangelical church leaders agree the future of Catholic and evangelical churches alike are intimately linked to Latinos in the U.S.

Rodriguez said for the better part of a decade he has been putting pressure on conservatives in Congress as well as assuaging the concerns that he said many white Evangelicals have about comprehensive immigration reform. “You need to support immigration reform because if not, you’re actually deporting the very future of your church,” he said.

Echoing the official views of the Catholic church, Muñoz-Visoso describes the Catholic church’s approach to immigration reform as comprehensive. “There has to be a grassroots movement to make sure that human dignity is respected, that due process is respected, and to understand the root causes of immigration,” she said.

Pope Francis has been vocal about the plight of immigrants worldwide. In a message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he addressed the need for thorough reform. “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more,” he wrote.

Vox Wrote:
Ever notice how most of the immigration is from countries that bitch and moan about colonialism? They hate Europeans and European-derived people, but clamor to migrate to where they live. South Africa is a cesspool since they booted Europeans out. See

Pope Francis is expected to address immigration in a speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families. The event's theme is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”


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Despite Latino Pope, U.S. Hispanics Still Attracted to Evangelicalism - by VoxClamantis - 07-30-2015, 05:57 AM

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