Culture

Atheist And Non-Religious Latinos Are Growing In Numbers

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

Latinos Are Shattering Stereotypes As They Convert To Islam In Record Numbers

Culture

Latinos Are Shattering Stereotypes As They Convert To Islam In Record Numbers

Camisa, pantalon, azucar. These are just a few of the more than 4,000 Spanish words that derive from the Arabic language. These few words highlight the complex similarities between the Latino and Muslim cultures.

And as Latinos continue to flock to Islam, Latinos currently make up the fastest growing group of converts to Islam, those similarities will only continue to grow.

Latinos currently make up the fasted growing segment of the US Muslim population.

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According to some estimates, there are between 89,000 and 250,000 Latinos practicing Islam in the country.

Latino Muslims are a particularly vulnerable group as the Trump administration takes cruel and discriminatory measures against both segments of the population. One of the administration’s first moves was a ban on Muslim refugees while a border wall and increased ICE patrols remain consistent threats.

From Houston to Santa Ana and Philly to Chicago, Latino Muslims are forming communities.

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In a mosque on Chicago’s North Side, you’ll find that alongside Pakistani and Indian dishes – daal, butter chicken and endless naan – are Mexican dishes like molé y arroz. Chicago is also home to a chapter of Islam In Spanish – an organization founded in Houston.

The group, which formed in 2001 to provide Qurans, pamphlets, and videos to people who wanted to learn about the religion in their native language, has seen 160 Spanish-speakers convert in the Houston area in the last three years.

In 2009, only 1 percent of Muslims identified as Hispanic. By 2018, it was 7 percent.

Credit: islaminspanish / Instagram

According to the study, most Latino converts to Islam are women. Roughly 73 percent of participants were women. And many of them are leaders in their community, including women like Nylka Vargas who has helped develop some of the earliest Latino Muslim communities in the country.

Along with Jewish Americans, Latinos hold largely positive views of Muslims, according to a new study.

It was revealed that Hispanic Americans are fives times more likely to favorable views of Muslims as they are to have negative attitudes. This favorability rating is second only to the Jewish community.

Many Latinos have embraced Islam after discovering the hip-hop culture of the 1990s.

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Malcolm X, as a civil rights leader, was an instrumental figure in driving various communities to Islam. In an interview with LatinoUSA, Parada, 43, discussed how on a school trip to New York he saw friends greeting each other with “As-salaam-Alaikum.” He wanted to be a part of that.

Other reasons that Latinos have converted to Islam range from the search for renewed spirituality in a religion that rings true to a resurgence in Latinos exploring their Andalusian roots, when Muslims governed Spain for 700 years until 1492.

Some converts families worry about their choices.

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Parada was born to Salvadorean parents and was an altar boy at his family’s Roman Catholic church. His parents voiced concern about his choice to join the Islamic faith so he asked them to read a chapter in the Quran about Mary and Jesus. “Most Latinos think Muslims don’t believe in Jesus and Mary,” Parada told LatinoUSA. “That gave them a different perspective of Islam.”

Dangerous stereotypes about Muslims continue to create friction, even among Latinos.

Some converts from devout Catholic families say they sometimes are faced with skepticism and ignorance from their own relatives: “Oh, what are you an Arab now?” “Why did you join a black religion?” “Did you join ISIS?” “Take that thing off your head,” according to Parada.

But Latinos and Muslims are working hard to build bridges between the communities.

Like any good abuela, the way too make friends is with food. And that’s just what is helping connect the two communities.

From #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque – a movement that began back in 2017 to show solidarity with the Muslim community – to community potlucks and asadas, connecting people through food is helping them find their similarities.

READ: Latinos And Muslims Are Having Cross-Cultural Exchanges During Ramadan Thanks To Halal Tacos

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