New Statistics Reveal that Catholicism is the Largest Religious Group among US Hispanics but only 30% are among the US Born Latinos

A new Pew Research report released on April 13 reveals that Catholics remain the largest religious group among Latinos in the United States. This is even as their share among Latino adults has steadily declined over the past decade, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center surveys. By contrast, the share of Latinos who identify as Protestants – including evangelical Protestants – has been relatively stable, while the percentage who are religiously unaffiliated has grown substantially over the same period.

As of 2022, 43% of Hispanic adults identify as Catholic, down from 67% in 2010. Even so, Latinos remain about twice as likely as U.S. adults overall to identify as Catholic, and considerably less likely to be Protestant. Meanwhile, the share of Latinos who are religiously unaffiliated (describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”) now stands at 30%, up from 10% in 2010 and from 18% a decade ago in 2013. The share of Latinos who are religiously unaffiliated is on par with U.S. adults overall.

The demographic forces shaping the nation’s Latino population also have impacted religious affiliation trends. Young people born in the U.S. – not immigrants – have driven Latino population growth since the 2000s. Among U.S. Latinos ages 18 to 29, 79% were born in the United States.1 About half (49%) of Latinos in this age group now identify as religiously unaffiliated. By contrast, only about one-in-five Latinos ages 50 and older are unaffiliated; most of these older Latinos (56%) were born outside the U.S.2 Overall, 52% of Latino immigrants identify as Catholic and 21% are unaffiliated. U.S.-born Latinos are less likely to be Catholic (36%) and more likely to be unaffiliated (39%), according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey of Latino adults.

rising share of Latino voters have supported Republican candidates.

Religiously unaffiliated Latinos are also heavily Democratic (66% Democratic vs. 24% Republican).
Childhood religion and religious switching among Latinos

Most U.S. Latinos (65%) say they were raised Catholic, while far fewer say they were raised Protestant (18%), religiously unaffiliated (13%) or in some other religion (3%). Older Latinos and those who were born outside the U.S. are especially likely to say they were raised Catholic.

But like Americans overall, many Latinos switch away from their childhood religion. As of 2022, one-third of Latino adults indicate that their current religion is different from their childhood religion.

 Nearly a quarter of all U.S. Hispanics are former Catholics: While about two-thirds of Hispanic adults (65%) say they were raised Catholic, 43% say they are currently Catholic, according to the 2022 survey. And for every 23 Latinos who have left the Catholic Church, only one has converted to Catholicism.

By contrast, the religiously unaffiliated have experienced the biggest gains. Fewer Latinos say they were raised with no religious affiliation (13%) than currently identify as unaffiliated (30%). For every Latino raised without a religious affiliation who has joined a religion in adulthood (totaling 3% of all Latino adults), about seven Latinos have left their childhood religion and become unaffiliated (20%).

About one-in-five U.S.-born Hispanics (22%) were raised Catholic and no longer identify as Catholic; this is the case for 23% of foreign-born Hispanics. Disaffiliation from religion is somewhat more common among U.S.-born Hispanics: About a quarter of U.S.-born Hispanics (23%) say they were raised in a faith but are now religiously unaffiliated, compared with 16% of foreign-born Hispanics.

Religious commitment among U.S. Latinos

Attendance at religious services weekly or more often falls at  22% among Catholics. (A similar share of U.S. Catholics overall, 26%, say they attend Mass weekly.) The vast majority of religiously unaffiliated Americans seldom or never attend services, including 86% of unaffiliated Latinos.

The Latino Catholics who say they pray daily are at (55% and 52%, respectively). Most Latino “nones” seldom or never pray (61%), though a substantial minority (29%) say they pray at least weekly.

Four-in-ten Mass-attending Latino Catholics also say their services at least sometimes involve praying in tongues, compared with about a quarter (24%) of U.S. Catholic churchgoers overall, according to a previous analysis.