"I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10,11.
"The Pew Research Center's 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion finds that a majority (55%) of the nations estimated 35.4 million Latino adults- or about 19.6 million Latinos- identify as Catholic today. About 22% are Protestant (including 16% who describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical) and 18% are religiously unaffiliated."
"The share of Hispanics who are Catholic has been in decline for at least the last few decades. But as recently as 2010 Pew Research polling found that fully two-thirds of Hispanics (67%) were Catholic. That means the Catholic share has dropped by 12% points in the last four years, using Pew Research's Standard survey question about religious affiliation."
The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos In The U.S.; pewforum.org May 7, 2014 paragraghs 2 and 3.
The above excerpt is just part of the introduction of this massive, revealing and interesting study.
I'm just begining to dig into it.
What catches my eye, and sticks in my pastoral craw too, are related statistics that raise questions about the pastoral care being received by roughly four million Latinos in the good old U.S.A. who in the last four years have set out looking for new places of worship.
Here are some of the statistics:
1. 72% of U.S. Hispanic Protestant Evangelical Christians in the U.S. describe themselves as Pentecostal or Charismatic ("Renewalist").
As do 67% of all Hispanic Protestants.
And 50% of U.S. Mainline Protestant Hispanics.
And 52% of U.S. Hispanic Catholics
(Chapter 7, Ibid);
2. 65% of all U.S. Pentecostals of all backgrounds believe in the prosperity Gospel. (Chapter 7).
Since polls are all about wording- this is how Pew defines the "prosperity gospel:"
"God will grant wealth and good health to believers with enough faith."
Or (how would you answer?)
"God doesn't always give wealth and good health even to believers with a deep faith."
3. 49% of all U.S. Hispanics believe in the prosperity gospel.
As do 54% of Catholics,
And 51% of Protestants (52% of Evangelicals, 49% Mainline).
And 35% of Hispanics unaffilated with any religion.
4. 55% of Hispanics with a family income below $30,000 believe in the prosperity gospel.
28% with family income over $75,000.
45% of folks in the middle.
54% of foreign born and 41% of native born.
5. 29% of U.S. Hispanic Christians are already in a traditional Pentecostal church.
"An additional 38% describe themselves as Pentecostal or Charismatic Christians even though they do not belong to a Pentecostal denomination."
29% + 38 = 67% of all Hispanic Protestants describe themselves as Pentecostal or Charismatic. See n. 1 above.
What Do These Numbers Say?
So, if these Pew Research figures are correct, the Catholic church lost 4,248,000 Hispanics (67% of 35,4 million = 23,718,000; 55% of 35,4 million = 19,470,000, ie 23,718,00 minus 19,470,000 = a 4,248,000 drop in four years.
This number, over four million, is the amount of U.S. Hispanics, 67% of which describe themselves as Charismatic and Pentecostal, that have been searching for new churches in just the last four years.
First Glance Conclusions
A large number of U.S. Hispanics are on the move religiously.
They clearly support the prosperity gospel, as do most Christians.
Our Hispanic brothers and sisters in the U.S. are clearly going to be welcomed among the 65% of all Pentecostals who believe in the prosperity gospel.
But, what if the prosperity gospel is exagerated and false?
We here at Zion Pentecost Mission clearly trust that Jesus has always been and still is in the blessing and miracle business, that he still heals and blesses and shepherds his faithful, in all manner of ways.
But, as we have repeatedly made clear, we see the need for more scriptural depth and preparation regarding the whole counsel of God for all God's people, so that we give and receive the biblically based and Holy Ghost guided pastoral care that is the standard of Jesus himself.
This level of pastoral care is especially needed for Hispanic folks, who are changing churches and often adapting to new cultures, some of whom have risked much seeking a better life here in the U.S.A.
We are left with a valid question: In what numbers are U.S. Hispanics moving in faith freedom from Vatican pillars only to run into prosperity posts?
We need more hard data.
The likely answer is a lot.
Whatever the numbers, it is fair to say that churches who seek to teach and practice the whole counsel of God, according to the norms and practices of scripture, and who have not swerved toward the prosperity gospel, have their pastoral work cut out when it comes to welcoming U.S. Hispanics who are on the move looking for a new church home.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...