Culture

Atheist And Non-Religious Latinos Are Growing In Numbers

As a majority of U.S. Latinos, about 77 percent, identify as Christians according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. Of those, 48 percent identifying as Roman Catholic and 19 percent identifying as Evangelical Protestant. It’s easy to see how some Latinos may not believe or approve of those who identify as Latino atheists.

Throughout centuries, Latinos have been linked to Christianity.

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This was mostly through the indoctrination of faith by Spaniards who brought over the Roman Catholic faith to the New World.

A multitude of memes, films and television shows portray Latinos as lighting a saint candle as an ofrenda, praying for El Tri to finally make it to the fifth round in the World Cup, or exclaiming ¡Ay,Dios mío! as a colloquial form of expression, but what about those Latinos who identify as non-religious or atheist? They do in fact exist and are growing larger in numbers.

According to the 2014 Pew’s religious landscape survey, 20 percent of U.S. Latinos identify as unaffiliated with any religion.

Jessica Martinez, an author for the Pew study, told NBC News in 2014 that Latinos between the ages of 18-29 are leaving Catholicism for non-religious affiliation.

Although smaller in number than Roman Catholics, non-religious and atheist Latinos want you to know they have the same strong moral compass as the person next to them who is praying to St. Anthony to help them find a parking spot in downtown traffic.

Here’s what a couple Latino atheists have to say about their lack of faith.

Eddie, 24, of Salvadoran and Mexican descent, grew up attending Catholic school until he headed off to college at a public university. When he was a sophomore in college, a debate with a Christian group on campus solidified the fact he wanted to identify as non-religious.

“After having a conversation with a Christian organization on campus and asking ‘So if a Buddhist monk lives his life along the same values as Christianity, just because he has grown to accept his faith, especially since geographically Christianity might have a smaller presence, is he destined to go to hell?’ When the response was ‘Yes, he would go to hell.’, I knew this wasn’t for me,” he said.

Eddie added after reading holy books and creation stories from other civilizations, he didn’t see Christianity as being “that special or unique to other religions of the past.”

While some Latinos such as Eddie changed their beliefs once they got older, others were raised in a non-religious household and continued their non-religious beliefs into adulthood.

One person wants others to know that religion is not necessary to have good morals.

Born in Argentina, Val, 35, said he was raised in a family that often talked about life, ethics, and history.

“My personal upbringing differed [compared to religious Latinos] because from a very early age, we were never lied to, about anything. My parents did their best to explain the world without creating narratives to simplify the unknown.”

He doesn’t consider himself an atheist, but instead just doesn’t believe in God or in organized religion.

“I just believe in life and the true evolution of earth and human kind,” he said.

While both Eddie and Val said they have family, friends and work colleagues who accepted their non-religious views, some Latinos and other members of religious communities still have misconceptions about non-religious people and atheists.

“I find few Latinos that are atheist or that don’t feel internally sorry for me for being one,” says Matias, 39, who was born and raised in Argentina throughout his childhood.

He said the biggest misconception about atheists is “that without religion one has no morals or values. It’s absolutely ridiculous and insulting.”

“I am an atheist, and while we never know exactly how we evolved, I am convinced of the absence of god and any truth in religious beliefs. Rarely do I get very negative, aggressive responses. But again, very few agree or take it seriously within the Latino community I am with,” he continued.

While views about religion among especially older Latinos is still seen in a traditional way, the misrepresentation and under representation of atheists at large in media and pop culture is bound for a change—a change Eddie is still hopeful for.

“[Atheist and non-religious Latinos] are possibly more underrepresented, but that’s what makes this time so pivotal. In so many areas, including religion, people are able to break the status quo and define what a Latino or atheist can look like,” he said.


READ: 10 Folk Religions You Didn’t Know Existed In Latin America And The Caribbean

What are your thoughts on religion as a Latino? Are you atheist or non-religious? Let us know in the comments below!

Just A Reminder That It’s Super Strange To Take Pictures With A Dying Man On The Cross

Culture

Just A Reminder That It’s Super Strange To Take Pictures With A Dying Man On The Cross

Like many aspects of Latino culture, we have a complicated relationship with Catholicism. While many of us grew up in the church and take solace in the ritual and community that the church provides, there are also some other aspects of the religion that are harder to deal with. For example, many Catholics express their love for Jesus in some…unusual ways. Anyone who grew up in the church knows that Catholics can be prone to depicting the death of Jesus on the cross in–some would say–graphic ways. Growing up, many Latinos don’t think twice about seeing explicit pictures of Jesus dying at their local parish.

But after Latinos grow up and are exposed to other lifestyles and religions, we develop a different perspective on Catholic art. Outside of our Catholic/Latinx bubble, we begin to see why a lot of people view Catholic art as morbid. And honestly, sometimes we can’t blame them. So, with both Dia de Muertos and Halloween quickly approaching, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to deep-dive into the sometimes weird world of Catholic art. Take a look below and see if any of these spark any memories!

1. The Towering Shadow of Jesus

@bishi_music/Instagram

Whoever thought this giant Jesus shadow was inspiring probably has a different idea of what brings people comfort than what your average person does. To outsiders, it may look intimidating, to say the least. 

2. The Floor Made of Bones

@danmstephenson/Twitter

Yes, Catholics have an unfortunate history of plastering their buildings with bones of their dead patrons. It was very trendy back in the day. We can’t say we want this one to come back in style.

3. Skeletons Everywhere!

@fakingitfab/Instagram

When non-Latinx people think of skeletons, they generally think of spooky stuff like Halloween. But many Latino Catholics have seen a skeleton or two pop up in their own cathedral’s decor (that still doesn’t mean it’s not a little spooky).

4. Morbid Public Rituals

@hildahoy/Twitter

You know an event is sufficiently Catholic when there is a life-size rendering of Jesus on the cross being carried by a group of people. When you’re experiencing stuff like this, you don’t even question it. 

5. Unfortunate Artistic Interpretations of Jesus

@jupit3rrr/Instagram

Look, no one really knows what Jesus looked like. We, however, hope Jesus didn’t look like many of the old and dilapidated statues that we have seen of him in certain cathedrals. It may have looked great back in the day, but some of these need some refurbishing.

6. Tone-Deaf Baked Goods

@hotoynoodle/Twitter

A quick internet search will turn up some unfortunate Catholic-themed baked goods that look like they were made by some clueless but well-intentioned abuelas. If you think these hands-of-Jesus cookies are bad, you should see the “blood of the lamb” cake we stumbled across on Pinterest. 

7. Uncanny Pope Memorabilia

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Naturally, the Pope is someone to be venerated in the Catholic religion, but odd-looking artwork depicting His Holiness is…well, odd. Especially when it’s a dinner table’s centerpiece. 

8. This disproportionate statue of Jesus

@julie_van_winkle/Instagram

Again, it’s obvious that the artist had the best of intentions, but unfortunately, the execution left a bit to be desired. Odd artwork like this is par for the course in many smaller parishes.

9. Graphic Depictions of Saints Being Martyred

@julie_van_winkle/ Instagram

It’s art like this that we remember being particularly afraid of as children. Blood coming out of saints was hard to look at and may have kept us up at night once or twice.

10. Embalmed Bodies of Saints

@ktcoulter/Instagram

Most other religions don’t display their heroes of yore out in the open for everyone to see. Again, this is what makes being a Catholic a sort of secret society–it doesn’t feel unusual when you’re a part of it!

11. This altar dedicated to the preserved head of St. Catherine

@LectorGirl85/Twitter

Really, there are countless sites dedicated to displaying the bodies (or body parts) of Saints who are no longer with us. Like this altar that’s dedicated to displaying the mummified head of St. Catherine. 

12. Yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds:

@VivantBlondie97/Twitter

We can understand how outsiders would give this practice a bit of a side-eye. But they just don’t understand, okay?

13. This Glow-In-The-Dark Crucifix

@revinthenorth/Twitter

This one is equal parts funny and spooky. Who thought it would be a good idea to display this in a church? 

14. To sum up with this astute observation from a priest with a sense of humor:

@thehappypriest/Twitter

Truer words have never been spoken. Sure, Catholic art can be morbid, but for many Latinx people, being Catholic is a substantial and important part of their identity. 

The Pope Thinks That Mexico’s Struggle With Violence Is Because Of The Devil And La Virgen De Guadalupe

Things That Matter

The Pope Thinks That Mexico’s Struggle With Violence Is Because Of The Devil And La Virgen De Guadalupe

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Pope Francis was in Mexico recently and spoke about everything from abortion and femicide to the border wall and standing up to Trump.

But it’s his comments about Mexico’s struggle with violence and conflict that have everybody talking.

In a recent interview with Noticieros Televisa, Pope Francis blamed the country’s rising violence on the devil taking out its anger on the country.

Credit: @1marcolopez / Twitter

The Pope offered an explanation for the violence and conflict that Mexico faces, saying that “the devil has beef” with Mexico. He says it’s because of the frequent persecution that Catholics faced in the country over the years.

He added that “Christian persecutions weren’t as virulent in other countries in America,” he told Noticieros Televisa, according to El Universal. “Why in Mexico? Something happened there… Otherwise, you can’t explain it.”

According to the Pope, the devil’s problem with Mexico also stems from the country’s immense admiration for la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Translation: @Pontifex_es still things that the devil has beef with Mexico because in Mexico, there is la Virgen de Guadalupe.

This actually goes back to a 2015 interview where the Pope again blamed Mexicans for worshipping la Virgen. He went on to say this is why the devil punishes Mexico.

Obviously, his remarks have caused quite a bit of drama in one of the world’s most Catholic countries.

Credit: @El_Universal_Mx / Twitter

Translation: He has to blame our bullshit on something.

People across Twitter are either offended and annoyed that the Pope would simplify something that is so complicated, while others are upset that their religious leader suggests they face an issue with the devil.

Like I don’t think anyone wants to hear that their country is being punished by the devil – especially not from the church’s number 1 leader.

Though many heard the news and couldn’t help but laugh.

Credit: @RuidoEnLaRed / Twitter

The majority of people across social media just couldn’t beleive that their county’s struggles were being reduced to such a simple explanation.

Many wanted to hear detailed plans or suggestions from Pope Francis on how best to combat the issues the country faces but, instead, were left disappointed.

And some suggested the devil himself was probably having a good laugh at all of this.

Translation: Now we understand everything. The devil has beef with Mexico, says the Pope.

And one Twitter user admitted he agrees with Pope Francis.

Credit: @dmorenochavez / Twitter

Translation: “I also think that ‘the devil has beef with Mexico.’ Well, at least with my Chivas.”

Or at least that the devil has beef with his futbol team, Las Chivas. And with a season like they had last year, we would probably have to agree.