Report Explores Link Between Latino’s Faith, Politics and Activism

NOTRE DAME, Ind.

Latinos’ religious affiliation and church attendance influence their political party preferences, degree of support for the war in Iraq and positions on moral issues raised in the last presidential campaign, according to a report recently released by the Center for the Study of Latino Religion (CSLR) in the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS).

The report,  “Faith and Values in Action: Religion, Politics and Social Attitudes Among U.S. Latinos/as,” analyzes data from the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2004 National Survey of Latinos.

 
Authors of the report also warned that divisions among Latinos would grow as there numbers in the United State do.
 
“We conclude that Latinos/as are facing the same cultural divide that separates other Americans over political and social issues,” the authors said. “In the years ahead as the Latino population continues to grow rapidly, religion may well become a prominent fault line within these communities. Time and further research — including studies that take additional sociological factors into account — will help pinpoint the precise determinants of Latino political attitudes, civic behavior and community engagement.

The new report found that non-Catholic Latinos were more likely to be Republican and conservative on social issues, than the Catholics were.
 
“While registered Latinos overall are more likely to identify as Democrats, non-Catholic Latinos − particularly those who are politically active − are more likely to choose the Republican Party,” said Edwin I. Hernández, a CSLR research fellow who was co-author of the report. “On social issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and divorce, Latino Protestants significantly are more likely to hold conservative views than Catholic Latinos.”
 
However, the report summary added, “Though Latinos/as are divided along religious lines in both their political identification and their views toward social morality, Latino/a Protestants and Catholics agree that bread and butter issues like health care, the economy, and education are more pressing than the issues about which they disagree.”

The report said religiously active Latinos volunteer at higher rates in educational and community venues than those less active in religion.

“Our study finds that whether Catholic or Protestant, Latinos/as are more likely to volunteer in their community if they also volunteer at church,” the report said. “Further, churches provide roughly half of the volunteering capital among Latinos/as and their surrounding communities.”

 
The CSLR, founded in 1999, serves as a national center and clearinghouse for study of the interaction between religion and community. 

The full report is available online at http://latinostudies.nd.edu/pubs/pubs/RR_2007_11_1.pdf

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