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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,990
October 3, 2019
Faith & Values of Hispanic Americans
By Mike McManus

It is Hispanic Heritage Month - an excellent time to consider the lives of Hispanics in America, who are the nation's largest ethnic minority group. This culturally diverse group has roots in a variety of countries, most hailing from Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba, among others.

There are 58.9 million Hispanics - 18% of the U.S. population.

Pollster George Barna has identified key elements that strongly characterize the Hispanic community. First, they share a "deep connection to family, a concern for social justice and a firm belief in faith practices."

According to the Census Bureau, three in four Hispanics are part of a household with other family members (as opposed to roommates, domestic partners or living alone). In fact, nearly one in five Hispanics live in a home with nine or more people - a much higher percentage than any other ethnic group.

Hispanic Americans who are practicing Christians boast vibrant households in other ways, with 71% sharing dinner together, 49% praying and more than a third talking about their faith or God. In fact, over half of Hispanic Christians share "unique or special Christian religious traditions that they learned from their family."

What's more, Hispanic Christians open their homes and lives to non-family. In fact, 82% confirm having people in their life "who are so close they feel like family," Barna reports. More than half also frequently welcome regular visitors into their home.

In fact, most Hispanics say their home atmosphere feels loving and comfortable - safe, joyful and peaceful.

Hispanics also take pride in their strong work ethic - which is second to their family commitment. One in five reported that their work ethic was "the single most important way that the Hispanic community adds to American society."

Hispanic Christians note that "providing for my family" and "having enough money to meet my own obligations and needs" are their ultimate financial goals in life. Three-quarters say they feel "made for" or "called to" their current work.

In fact, most are aware of the gifts and talents that God has given them, which they want to use "for the good of others."

After Trump's election in 2016 Barna asked the general population whether the U.S. was headed "in the right direction or the wrong direction." Three-quarters of Hispanics asserted America was going in "the wrong direction."

In fact, most Hispanic adults in America believe that "minorities (non-white races) have experienced undeserved hardship," with one in four answering "always." Another 30% said this is "usually" the case. Almost none feel this is "rarely or never" true.

Most Hispanics are "very concerned" about immigration. They disagree that "the U.S. allows too many immigrants into the country" and almost three-quarters feel that "American should welcome refugees during a crisis."

Interestingly, 85% of Americans agree that "people from different cultures enrich America." However, the political discourse on this topic has only become more volatile in recent years - with current immigration regulations affecting citizens from especially Latin and South American nations who are seeking asylum within U.S. borders.

What about the faith of Hispanics?

Though only three in 10 Hispanic Americans read the Bible outside of a religious service, 56% agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings. Church attendance among Hispanics is dropping - as it is among other Americans. In 2003, Barna found that 42% of Hispanics attended a church service in the last week, but that dropped to 30% in 2018.

A third of Americans teenagers identify themselves as atheist or agnostics - as do a third of Hispanics. In fact, Hispanic teens are more likely than other ethnic groups in their generation to have a negative view of Christianity, noting that they "have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world," and that "there are too many injustices in the history of Christianity."

Barna asserts, "Despite being brought up in a culture that values the practice of religion, the younger generation of Hispanic Americans are not as certain as their elders. They are either searching for authenticity within Christianity - a faith that addresses family, justice, work and other concerns and priorities of the community - or are opting out of it entirely."

We Americans have much to learn from Hispanics!


Copyright (c) 2019 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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