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Religion Among Hispanics in the United States. Challenges to the Catholic Church / La Religion chez les Hispaniques des États Unis : défis à l'Église catholique - article ; n°1 ; vol.83, pg 53-65

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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1993 - Volume 83 - Numéro 1 - Pages 53-65
Most persons of Hispanic background in the United States identify themselves as Roman Catholics. Partly because of what the hierarchy of the American Church has termed the Hispanic presence, the denomination to which Hispanics have traditionally been loyal is undergoing profound changes in its membership. These trends promise to alter the demographic profile and cultural tone of Catholic life in America into the next century. The accuracy of such a projection supposes, however, that Catholic institutions will accomplish the pastoral task of incorporating the participation of this growing segment of the American population. It assumes as well that the Church will meet the challenge posed to it by the leakage of Spanish-speaking adherents to Protestant religious bodies.
Aux Etats-Unis, la plupart des hispaniques s'auto-identifient comme catholiques romains. Mais cette Eglise, à laquelle la présence hispanique - pour reprendre les termes de la hiérarchie catholique américaine - est restée traditionnellement fidèle, vit actuellement de profonds changements en son sein, en partie en raison-même de cette présence. Les tendances qui se dessinent laissent présager une modification du profil démographique et de la tonalité culturelle de la vie catholique américaine d'ici la fin du siècle. Ce pronostic ne révélera sa pertinence que si les institutions catholiques se montrent capables d'intégrer la participation de ce segment en expansion de la population américaine. Cela suppose également que l'Eglise soit en mesure de relever le défi que constitue pour elle l'attraction exercée par des groupes religieux protestants sur une fraction croissante de ses adhérents hispanophones.
La mayor de los «hispanicos» de los Estados Unidos se auto-identifican como cat licos romanos La «presencia hispanica», para utilizar los terminos de la Jerarquia catolica es profundamente fiel esta Iglesia. Las profundas transformaciones que afectan la Iglesia catolica son derivadas en parte de esta misma «presencia». Las tendencias actuales indican una modificación del perfil demografico de las tonalidades culturales de la vida catolica americana hasta fines del siglo. Pero tales previsiones solo ser pertinentes si las instituciones cat licas son capaces de integrar la participación de estos segmentos en expansi de la populación americana. Esto supone también que la Iglesia pueda enfrentar el desafio de la attración ejercida por grupos religiosos protestantes en fracciones crecientes de sus aderentes hispanofonos.
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Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.

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Kevin Christiano
Religion Among Hispanics in the United States. Challenges to
the Catholic Church / La Religion chez les Hispaniques des
États Unis : défis à l'Église catholique
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 83, 1993. pp. 53-65.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Christiano Kevin. Religion Among Hispanics in the United States. Challenges to the Catholic Church / La Religion chez les
Hispaniques des États Unis : défis à l'Église catholique. In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 83, 1993. pp. 53-
65.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1993.1485
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/assr_0335-5985_1993_num_83_1_1485Abstract
Most persons of Hispanic background in the United States identify themselves as Roman Catholics.
Partly because of what the hierarchy of the American Church has termed "the Hispanic presence", the
denomination to which Hispanics have traditionally been loyal is undergoing profound changes in its
membership. These trends promise to alter the demographic profile and cultural tone of Catholic life in
America into the next century. The accuracy of such a projection supposes, however, that Catholic
institutions will accomplish the pastoral task of incorporating the participation of this growing segment of
the American population. It assumes as well that the Church will meet the challenge posed to it by the
"leakage" of Spanish-speaking adherents to Protestant religious bodies.
Résumé
Aux Etats-Unis, la plupart des "hispaniques" s'auto-identifient comme catholiques romains. Mais cette
Eglise, à laquelle la "présence hispanique" - pour reprendre les termes de la hiérarchie catholique
américaine - est restée traditionnellement fidèle, vit actuellement de profonds changements en son sein,
en partie en raison-même de cette présence. Les tendances qui se dessinent laissent présager une
modification du profil démographique et de la tonalité culturelle de la vie catholique américaine d'ici la
fin du siècle. Ce pronostic ne révélera sa pertinence que si les institutions catholiques se montrent
capables d'intégrer la participation de ce segment en expansion de la population américaine. Cela
suppose également que l'Eglise soit en mesure de relever le défi que constitue pour elle l'attraction
exercée par des groupes religieux protestants sur une fraction croissante de ses adhérents
hispanophones.
Resumen
La mayor de los «hispanicos» de los Estados Unidos se auto-identifican como cat licos romanos La
«presencia hispanica», para utilizar los terminos de la Jerarquia catolica es profundamente fiel esta
Iglesia. Las profundas transformaciones que afectan la Iglesia catolica son derivadas en parte de esta
misma «presencia». Las tendencias actuales indican una modificación del perfil demografico de las
tonalidades culturales de la vida catolica americana hasta fines del siglo. Pero tales previsiones solo
ser pertinentes si las instituciones cat licas son capaces de integrar la participación de estos segmentos
en expansi de la populación americana. Esto supone también que la Iglesia pueda enfrentar el desafio
de la attración ejercida por grupos religiosos protestantes en fracciones crecientes de sus aderentes
hispanofonos.Arch de Sc soc des Rel. 1993 83 juillet-septembre) 53-65
Kevin CHRISTIAN
RELIGION AMONG HISPANICS
IN THE UNITED STATES CHALLENGES
TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
First and future american catholics
The story of Roman Catholicism in North America is in the original in
stance story recorded and recounted in Spanish Explorers from Spain
brought brand of Catholic culture and its institutions to the West over five
hundred years ago But this connection between two continents is not
merely an artifact of history its impact lives on today For just as any narrative
of the beginnings of Catholicism in the Americas must necessarily be bound
together with an account of the colonization of the New World by Spain so
the future of the Catholic Church in the United States seems increasingly to
lie among its Hispanic population the distant descendants of that first contact
in centuries past 2)
Although as religious historian Michael Perko S.J notes Spanish
colonial Catholicism has had little direct effect on the American Church as
we know it today the influence of Hispanic culture on the Catholic
in America has loomed larger in recent decades The Hispanic variety of
Catholicism would clearly emerge again only in the twentieth century with
increased attention to the growing Hispanic population Neverthe
less Perko contends the Catholicism of the Spanish mission period has
bequeathed to the modern Church number of strategic assets claim to
historical priority among Christian denominations on what would become
American territory pragmatic orientation in the work of evangelization
reliance on lay people rather than on scarce clergy to carry out religious func
tions and concern about the material well-being of the faithful every bit
as strong as its commitment to guarding their spiritual condition
Each of these aspects of Hispanic Catholicism derives from the harsh re
alities of sixteenth-century colonial situation but each qualifies Hispanics
for leading role in the Catholic Church of the future As an ever wider
portion of the public searches for religious truths the need for practical
Christianity that can be integrated into the natural flow of life will be all the
more glaring As ordinations to the Catholic priesthood dwindle any group
53 ARCHIVES DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS
with experience at lay ministry will stand prepared And as the Church itself
is divided more decisively between the comfortable and the discomforting
record of siding with the poor and powerless will be the ticket for entry into
new American experiment
The social position and religious status of Hispanic Catholic minorities
in America are the twin subjects of this essay Neither one it is clear can
be addressed without reference to the other For that reason the exposition
that follows will shift between purely secular data and formally religious top
ics as well as attend to matters that are situated like most of life some
where in the middle The next section of this article furnishes brief overview
of statistics on the Hispanic population of the United States By every standard
of measurement these figures suggest that Hispanics are one of the fastest-
growing segments of American society This fact alone is sufficient cause to
focus more closely on distinctive elements in the religious styles of Hispanics
as theme for the following section
The official Church has sometimes been slow to respond to trends within
the institution that involve Hispanics More recently it has begun to meet
change by doing what it knows how to do best drafting resolutions and issuing
reports From panels of bishops and committees of pastoral planners veri
table wave of words has washed over the Hispanic faithful thus marking
baptism of sorts into the organizational politics of the American Church
Nevertheless these statements are worthy of study if only to weigh the atti
tudes of Church leaders toward what they have termed ambiguously the
Hispanic presence 4)
An item of urgent concern to the Catholic hierarchy in the United States
is switching by Hispanic members to Protestant religious bodies and partic
ularly to pentecostal sects section of this article examines research and
writing to date on the issue of Hispanic defection Finally concluding section
discusses several areas in which more research is required from sociologists
of American religion
Population change and the spame factor
In the twenty-year period immediately ended the Hispanic presence in
the United States more than doubled in size from approximately 9.1 million
persons in 1970 to about 21 million in 1990 Even if the earlier figure
was based upon an undercount of Hispanic residents as many demographers
now concede 6) the rate of growth for Hispanics was nonetheless remarkable
Indeed the increase in Hispanics in the first half of this period i.e. between
1970 and 1980 was fully 61 percent or pace seven times faster than that
exhibited by non-Hispanic population 7)
Hispanic groups today make up almost nine percent of the popu
lation according to the U.S Bureau of the Census This proportion is projected
to reach one tenth of the total by the end of this decade Already the
United States is home to the fifth-largest Spanish-speaking population of any
country in the world 9) and the numbers continue to climb By the year
2020 if present trends extend into the future there could be another doubling
54 HISPANICS AND RELIGION
of the number of Hispanics in the United States to between 47 and 54 mil
lion) making them the largest minority group 10)
Why has Hispanic population been growing so rapidly At least
three processes are operating in concert to yield this result The first is in
creased immigration from Latin America some portion of which is conducted
illegally 11 Approximately one third of all immigrants to the United States
during the 1980s according to one measure came from Spanish-speaking
countries to the south 12 second influence is the easy and regular passage
of Puerto Ricans who hold U.S citizenship between the island and the Amer
ican mainland Partly because migration is an option in life that attracts dis
proportionate numbers of the young and especially young males) the
Hispanic population of America is strikingly youthful one In 1988 His
panics in general had median age of 25.5 years 23.9 for Mexicans) com
pared to median of 32.2 for their non-Hispanic counterparts 13)
Immigration then has composed young and dynamic Hispanic America
But by far the most consequential factor in introducing larger numbers of
Hispanics to American society is the relatively high level of fertility of His
panic women By 1980 Census data show fertility for Hispanics and non- alike was falling but the rates for Hispanics were not declining as
steeply as the rates for other groups Hence sharp differences remained For
example statistics suggest that 1000 women of Mexican background in the
United States between the ages of 15 and 44 could be expected to have
total of 1715 children the corresponding number for non-Hispanic white
women was 1232 Among Hispanics only women of Cuban extraction
ranked below this latter standard. Taken together foreign-born Hispanic
women averaged 2.9 births over their lifetimes non-Hispanics in the United
States experienced 1.8 14 major monograph on Hispanics furthermore
reports that these differences for the most part cannot be accounted for by
differences among these groups in such factors as age age at marriage and
education 15)
So despite other social forces that may be at work elevated rates of fer
tility for Hispanics in comparison to non-Hispanic whites will probably per
sist with effects that are predictable The young age structure and relatively
high birth rates along with continued immigration note Rafael Valdivieso
and Cary Davis create considerable momentum for future growth in the
Hispanic population 16 Moreover since the majority of Hispanics in Amer
ica are at least nominal Catholics the bulk of that momentum will be chan
nelled directly into the ranks of contentious religious institution
For all its seeming impact however the notion of unitary Hispanic
minority is admittedly artificial The very label is one that is contrived largely
for the convenience of government agencies and private providers of social
services In many cultural respects it obscures more than it reveals As soci
ologists Frank Bean and Marta Tienda indicate most Hispanics are white
most are Catholic and most trace their ancestry to Spanish-speaking
country That much cannot be disputed But beyond these broad generali
zations they add no clear agreement exists about how to demarcate the
boundaries between Hispanics and non-Hispanics 17)
From the standpoint of ethnicity the category of Hispanic is highly di
versified The largest subgroup about 63 percent in 1989 is of Mexican back
ground twelve percent are Puerto Rican and five percent or so are Cuban
55 ARCHIVES DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS
About 13 percent although the fraction is undoubtedly rising have roots in
the countries of Central or South America Those in the remainder are
classified by the Census Bureau as other Hispanics 18)
Nearly two thirds of all Hispanics in America reside in one of three states
California New York or Texas 19 Yet distinctions of nationality are still
salient for they are accompanied by marked divergences in geographical dis
tributions and social standing Cubans who are the best educated and most
affluent Hispanics are concentrated primarily in south Florida Mexican-
Americans have the lowest rates for completion of high school and college
most of them have settled in Texas or California Mainly because 44 percent
of Puerto Rican families are headed by single females they suffer the highest
levels of poverty among Hispanics Puerto Ricans are located in New York
City and elsewhere around its metropolitan area Central and South Americans
have gravitated to California and on the opposite side of the continent to
cities along the East Coast 20)
The pattern of Hispanic population change is likely to create entirely new
opportunities for the promotion of both commodities and ideas Demographers
after all have detected the development in the Hispanic community of
burgeoning consumer market sought after by American businesses 21 Cer
tainly commercial enterprises are paying closer attention to Hispanics as
potential customers There is no reason why religious bodies could not respond
in similar way Even an organization as remote from the sacred as the Food
Marketing Institute has advised owners of grocery stores in Hispanic neigh
borhoods to have large section devoted to religious candles in order to
boost the traffic of shoppers up and down their aisles 22)
Of course retailing merchandise is one matter reinforcing or spreading
belief often is another unlike store managers in the barrio Catholic pastors
presumably know more about the prayer that is signified in burning flame
than about the price of the candle How effectively might they react to human
shifts that across the country have already set in motion profane interests
Any answer to that question depends on the current attachment of Hispanics
to their church
Religious devotion among hispanic catholics
chief criticism lodged against Hispanic Catholics is that their religion
is decidedly unlike the normative Mass-and-sacraments devotion that defines
others in the Church 23 While it is possible to overemphasize the contrasts
between Hispanic religious behavior and that of average American Catholics
suffice it to say that the former possesses some clearly distinctive attributes
Hispanic Catholicism is rooted in richly textured folk piety that is conveyed
through common people not priests and centered in the home not the
church It is active and celebratory not decorous and restrained Allan
Figueroa Deck S.J. theologian elaborates on this definition of Hispanic
faith
Their Catholicism is hardly the reflection of rigorous religious formation
based upon accepted catechetical texts Rather theirs is popular faith mediated
56 HISPANICS AND RELIGION
especially by grandmother mother and women in general Its standards and prac
tices are not articulated in books or in any other form of print medium This
deeply rooted form of Catholicism is communicated orally from person to person
within the context of family rancho town or barrio It almost totally lacks ra
tional articulation but it is not for that less convincing and motivating For this
simple faith is quite captivating and graphic dramatic emotive It eschews
the cognitive in its effort to appeal to the senses and the feelings It does this
through symbol and rite Its main qualities are concern for an immediate ex
perience of God strong orientation toward the transcendent an implicit belief
in miracles practical healing and tendency to personalize
or individualize relationship with the divine 24)
These points of contrast are readily evident in an examination of survey
data national telephone poll of 1003 Hispanic Catholics by the Gallup
Organization confirms the picture of Hispanic Catholicism as in the colorful
phrase of sociologist Andrew Greeley the Sacramental Imagination with
vengeance 25 That is Hispanics as group though doctrinally orthodox
are not obsessed with the more rule-bound aspects of church membership
Instead the main religious inspiration of Hispanics originates in the stories
of myth and their re-enactment through ritual
To illustrate interviewers found that 43 percent of the respon
dents in their survey of Hispanic Catholics attended Mass at least once
week not especially high rate for in the United States Yet in
the previous thirty days nearly as many 39 percent had read the Bible
Thirty-eight percent had lit religious candle and 27 percent had visited
shrine Thirty-five percent had recited the rosary while an equivalent propor
tion had taken part in some other devotion Of Hispanic women 61 percent
professed an interest in Bible study while 46 percent wanted to know more
about reports of miracles 26)
Nine in ten Hispanics agreed that religion was either fairly important
or very important to their lives Yet when pressed to specify what they like
most about the Catholic Church only three percent mentioned particular
item of church teaching or faith itself Most individuals instead named sacra
ments or liturgical activities Moreover few respondents could choose least
favorite aspect of membership in the Catholic Church suggesting lack of
salience for the institution outside of own participation in wor
ship 27 mere one tenth of the sample for instance expressed desire
to perform work for the church 28 Truly for Hispanic Catholics the
personal comes before the institutional the priest before the parish 29)
Responses of church leaders to hispanic ethnicity
The official leadership of the Catholic Church in the united States has
responded to the growing numbers of Hispanics in its midst by moving for
ward along three not entirely parallel tracks the formulation of theology
to guide the expanding field of Hispanic ministry pastoral planning for the
incorporation of greater numbers of Hispanics into the life of the Church
and the provision of social services to to help meet their immediate
57 DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS ARCHIVES
needs as human beings The first two labors took many of their cues from
pair of documents that were drafted during the 1980s
Apostolic work with Hispanics America first rose to prominence in the
1940s when prompted by the advocacy of Archbishop Robert Lucey of
San Antonio Texas the Church inaugurated special Committee for the
Spanish-Speaking 30 Yet although Hispanics gained an official foothold in
the Washington bureaucracy as early as 1970 it was not until 1984
that fully programmatic response to Hispanic Catholics was promulgated
In January of that year the Catholic bishops of the United States released
broadly conceived pastoral letter on Hispanics in the Church The Hispanic
Presence Challenge and Commitment 31 The bishops letter combines
sound theological base with tepid criticism of American society and hope
ful orientation toward social change Together these elements were sufficient
to lend speed and urgency to the burgeoning specialty of Hispanic ministry
which in less than decade has become kind of ecclesiastical cottage in
dustry
The letter opens with bold declaration At this moment of grace we
recognize the Hispanic community among us as blessing from God 32
Much of what follows in the pastoral shares this resolute attitude toward look
ing on the positive side of new developments The letter couches as creative
opportunities Hispanic desires for changes in liturgical and homiletic styles
methods of catechesis and routines for identifying and training lay
leaders 33 From this point the bishops gradually widen their field of vision
to treat aspects of the social position of Hispanic Americans In the end they
issue challenge We call all U.S Catholics to work not just for Hispanics
but with them the bishops write in order to secure their empowerment in
our democracy and the political participation which is their right and
duty 34 And they commit themselves and their resources to practical means
for achieving the goals that the letter announces
The next step logically was to set plan The second document of the
1980s crucial to the position of Hispanics the Catholic Church is exactly
that the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry 35 The plan is
detailed blueprint for action by the Church and its members Unfortunately
many of the intentions that were embraced in the plan have yet to be realized
On the conceptual and organizational levels there is still much work to be
done Also unfortunately sociologists of religion are largely absent from the
committees that are spearheading this effort If Hispanic ministry is really
cottage industry its cottage can claim few social scientists as tenants
Oddly enough not only do the actions of the Catholic Church speak louder
than its words they sometimes speak more gracefully and effectively His
panics who are migrants or are immigrants to the United States for example
can call upon long tradition and special expertise of the Catholic Church
in assisting people on the move Through its international aid organization
Catholic Relief Services and such groups as the Catholic Committee on Ref
ugees the Church in America for more than fifty years has assumed leading
position in providing material support language education job training and
legal advice to Hispanic newcomers 36 The story of this commitment is
difficult to relate adequately in small space but its impact cannot be denied
58 HISPANICS AND RELIGION
Catholic losses to protestant groups
In an early assessment of the social position of Mexican-Americans in
the southwestern United States the Rev John Wagner wrote that
There is something very basic lacking in the American Catholic Church which
makes it possible for thousands of Spanish-speaking to leave the each
year to embrace an alien form of worship Every indication points to the fact that
many more Spanish-speaking leave the Church each year than the Church gains
in converts Large numbers of Catholics are looking to other
religions for something they cannot find in the Catholic religion Perhaps the Ame
rican Catholic Church has become so solidified that it will accept membership
only on its own basis and only as long as the individual conforms to its proper
development Basically this would mean that to be regarded as good Catholic
in the American Church one have to be in the middle income economically
be able to send his children to the Catholic school be able to support the structure
which is called the parish Since the Spanish-speaking are not in this position
they have one of two choices either to forsake all of their background and become
as legalistic as the Catholic Anglo or find their expression somewhere else 37)
More than twenty-five years later there is little in Rev obser
vations that would need to be amended Hispanics today protest that the
Catholic Church wants their loyalty and their participation but usually they
say on its terms alone They complain of an aloof hierarchy harsh and
judgmental clergy and coldly mechanical liturgies Rather than spiritual
home the Catholic Church has become for them locus of ethnic conflict
linguistic bias and broad neglect of cultural differences and what they imply
for communal life In the face of such difficulties many Hispanics have gone
so far as to leave the Catholic Church behind altogether and join sects within
Protestantism Particularly in pentecostal bodies Hispanics appear to find
congenial personal setting for their religious faith warm relations among
members fluid pattern of worship and mode of governance that depends
on lay initiative
Surely the evidence of effort on the part of Protestant bodies in reaching
Catholic Hispanics with their messages is impressive The Gallup study de
scribed above found that an astonishing 74 percent of Hispanic respondents
had been approached by evangelists from other churches with appeals for con
version More surprising still may be the finding that positive reactions to
these invitations outnumbered negative ones 35 percent to 20 percent 38
Data from new study of proselytizing among Catholic immigrants and ref
ugees to the United States presented to the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops at its June 1992 meeting corroborate the earlier results Interviews
were confined to just eight Catholic dioceses around the country and they
yielded only 426 cases Nevertheless the author reports that 56 percent
of the immigrants surveyed were the targets of at least one recruitment attempt
by another church most were contacted two or more times Hispanic immi
grants were discovered to be sought out more frequently than members of
other ethnic groups 39)
These signs of Protestant activity have triggered an intense response by
leaders of the Catholic Church worldwide As one Hispanic bishop Ricardo
Ram rez C.S.B. has noted when the United States clerical leadership has
59 DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS ARCHIVES
taken an interest in Hispanic peoples it has been out of the less-than-ideal
motivation of fear that they will become Protestants 40 The own
former representative in Washington Archbishop Pio Laghi has called
Catholic losses among Hispanics significantly -1 would say disturbingly
high 41 Yet the reaction to change has not been consistently constructive
Beginning in 1986 with wide-ranging document on Sects Cults and
New Religious Movements Rome has not been reluctant to cast suspicion
on the motivations of its competitors and to endorse themes from some of
the least reputable critics of those organizations 42 The outcome too often
is an unscholarly defensive and potentially bigoted contribution to what can
only be labelled literature of panic On the whole statements from North
American bishops are superior in their resolve to understand the problem of
disaffection from the Church and to extend charity to all who are involved
Nevertheless in language that is regrettably typical of the worst such com
ments the six Hispanic bishops of California cannot resist disparagement of
an aggressive and disrespectful proselytism on the part of some so-called
Christian sects The primary blame for Hispanic defection from the Catholic
Church the faithful are told ought to be placed squarely on the shoulders
of reputedly devious and treacherous members of religious sects who might
have visited you and confused you 43)
This tone is repeated in collaborative statement of bishops from Cal
ifornia and Mexico In distinguishing historical churches they respect all
religious beliefs and look for truth at every level from sects the latter
are judged guilty of gathering new initiates at any cost exerting pressure
of all types Sects the bishops insist manipulate historical and biblical data
and tend toward religious legalisin 44 Responsibility for even the obvious
inadequacies of the Catholic Church as an institution is deflected back on the
readers of these letters There is for example severe dearth of priests with
the skills required to serve Hispanic communities But if there is shortage
of priests is it not due in part to the failure to cultivate vocations in the
home? ask the California bishops 45)
At this point empirical research on the scope of Hispanic disaffiliation
from the Catholic Church is rather scant One of the first studies by Andrew
Greeley 46) has helped however to raise consciousness of the problem
and to frame debate over possible solutions Using data from succession of
General Social Surveys GSS of the American population Greeley has esti
mated that in fifteen-year period extending through the 1970s and 1980s
one million Hispanic Catholics left the Church This leakage of adherents
proceeds at rate of over 60000 defections per year an outflow that is in
words much higher than previously estimated 47 Indeed over
the last two decades the percentage of the Hispanic population of the United
States that identifies itself in the GSS as Catholic has fallen from 77 to 70
The problem of disaffiliation appears to be most acute among Puerto Ricans
and other Hispanics 48 According to Greeley losses of membership on
this scale amount to an ecclesiastical failure of unprecedented propor
tions 49)
The customary sociological explanation for the attraction of members of
minorities to sects invokes the purported functions of religious affiliation
Belonging to religious group this argument asserts allows otherwise un
important people to exercise some control over their lives With control comes
60