Latinos Are Growing In Numbers In The Buddhist Faith And There Are A Few Reasons For The Trend

For many Latinos, religion is a touchy subject. Whether it’s growing up in a Catholic household or being brought up Christian, many find themselves questioning religion altogether. That may be why there is a growing number of Latinos seeking other venues of religion, notably Buddhism. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos are 12 percent of the American Buddhist community and has seen rising numbers specifically among millennials. But why Latinos and why now?

Many people seek Buddhism as an alternative to other religions because of the freedom you get to find yourself spiritually.

Buddhism was introduced to the United States near the beginning of the 20th century, but over the past 30 years or so, Buddhism has crept into the cultural consciousness of many in the U.S. The basic concept of Buddhism is learning to accept life and find fulfillment within oneself through various forms of prayer and meditation. Rev. Jon Turner, a minister at the Orange County Buddhist Church (OCBC), says many young people, particularly Latinos, are seeking new alternatives compared to what they are accustomed to, like Catholicism. He says Buddhism also has many similarities to Protestant practices like readings and use of candles.

“When I think of Buddhism, I see it as an alternative if you don’t feel like you fit in other practices,” Turner says. “What many people like about Buddhism is that we don’t have a lot of rules about how you should live your life and many like that freedom.”

Buddhist organizations are reaching out to new communities, which has resulted in more diverse temples.

CREDIT: Akuppa John Wigham / Flickr

Turner and the OCBC have made efforts to reach out to new groups of people in the community which in return has seen a growing and changing demographics at the church. The historically Japanese temple in Orange County has grown increasingly diverse, Turner estimates one-quarter of OCBC congregants are not Japanese. He says over the years he’s seen more Japanese couples marrying outside their communities which has resulted in more diverse families.

“A lot of the families in the area are growing increasingly diverse which is opening up Buddhism to new communities,” Turner says. “It’s gaining popularity in the U.S. and our outreach shows that many are converting either at a younger age or in their late 30’s and 40’s.”

Turner is an example of this conversion as he began following Buddhism at 38 years old. He says he’s heard countless similar stories of people who convert to Buddhism when they’re looking for something new. The OCBC has helped many young and older groups of people when it comes to learning and converting to the practice of Buddhism.

The church primarily operates in English, unlike other Buddhist temples in Orange County that serve older immigrant communities and conduct services in languages such as Chinese or Vietnamese. Turner says having the services in English is key in breaking through to a fourth-generation Japanese person and a Latino coming to the temple for their first time.

For some, Buddhism is a perfect balance between self-learning and religious empowerment.

CREDIT: Tharum Bun / Flickr

Hector Ortiz, who grew up Baptist, faced struggles as a gay man because of his church’s teachings on sexuality. When he looked more into Buddhism he found more similarities between his Mexican heritage and Japanese culture. Ortiz said both religions are family-oriented which helped him when he started attending the OCBC more than a decade ago.

“For me, spiritually, what makes sense is that I’m responsible for my own actions and how I interpret the world, [as] opposed to looking to others for happiness or seeking it outward,” Ortiz told the LA Times. “I was drawn to the personal responsibility, seeking happiness inward and the acceptance. It felt like a place I was arriving home to, spiritually. It was a nice crossover for me.”

Buddhism is growing across the country which means new generations are practicing and spreading the religion’s message.

CREDIT: carol mitchell / Flickr

Soka Gakkai International, one of the largest Buddhist institutions in the U.S., is at the forefront when it comes to Latino outreach. Since 2001, the organization has hosted annual Spanish-language conferences, which gives a chance for new people to learn Buddhism and for longtime practitioners to build community with one another. This has led to many growing Buddhist communities across the country that are teaching a new generation of young practitioners that might have never been exposed to the religion.

As Buddhism grows in popularity, so does the need for more organizations and churches like Soka Gakkai and OCBC to do outreach and be the bridge for Latinos and others who’ve never practiced the religion.

“I like to think of Buddhism as the best-kept secret and for those that are even the slightly interested, I always welcome them to attend a service,” Turner said. “If you want a deeper meaning to your life or just want self-reflection, Buddhism might be for you.”

READ: Atheist And Non-Religious Latinos Are Growing In Numbers

What are your thoughts on religion as a Latino? Is Buddhism something you’ve though about? 

 Let us know in the comments below!

New Years Eve Superstitions And Traditions That We All Swear By Because They Work


New Years Eve Superstitions And Traditions That We All Swear By Because They Work

@bruccellati / Twitter

We all know that the magic of Jan. 1 is the promise of a fresh slate with mint new opportunities for love, dinero y good luck. Most people get drunk and kiss someone while they watch a giant ball drop in New York.

Latinos have a whole different method to ensure good luck, safe travels and hot sex in the new year and nobody else will understand.

If you’re Camila Cabello, you tweet this every year.

CREDIT: @CCabelloFR / Twitter

In 2016, she admitted the superstitions got to her and now she feels morally obligated to tweet that every year. I get it. Traditions make the magic happen. We bet she does literally all of this, too.

We get drunk off coquito and stuff our bodies with leftover tamales/pasteles.

CREDIT: @Latinegro / Twitter

You make enough tamales or pasteles at Buena Noche to last you until NYE because if your body doesn’t enter the New Year with food so entrenched in tradition, you get the same creepy feeling Camila gets when she considers not tweeting about her last shower. You just do it. You eat and get drunk.

Because we reuse everything, you also make sure everybody gets a chupito de coquito.

CREDIT: @JayomegaSO / Twitter

I don’t know what all this is, but we’re here for the Bacardi and we’re not going to drink it straight. Do as our ancestors taught us and prosper.

You eat 12 grapes at midnight.

CREDIT: @AmandaSalas / Twitter

One for every month of the year. Most of us make a wish for every month if we’re coherent enough to form thoughts.

Before the festivities, you scrub that house clean.

CREDIT: @ChaosAndConrad / Twitter

Because we’re all about the metaphors and superstitions. Clean the juju out of su casa unless you want to carry it all with you into the new year.

And then toss the dirty water out the window.

CREDIT: @chang40 / Twitter

*NOT* down the drain. The superstition is if you throw the bucket of dirty water out the window, that’s what officially washes you of bad juju.

Oh and before midnight, you do one last sweep.

CREDIT: @BraTheo_7 / Twitter

We’re nothing if not thorough. Plus, it’s a way to make sure the kids know that they’re always on the clock.

Lentejas bring you good luck so eat the most.

CREDIT: @bruccellati / Twitter

You also warn your date that the farts will be with them tonight, but it’ll all be worth it because you’re about to be their good luck charm in 2019. Come, come, come.

You run around the barrio with your luggage.

CREDIT: @damarizz14 / Twitter

Well, that’s what we all know we’re supposed to do, but we’re all too lazy and proud to actually go outside and do it. So you run around the house with your luggage so that your year is blessed with travels. It works!

Wear white for prosperity. Never wear black.

CREDIT: @beauty_newnew / Twitter

Maybe it’s the Santería in us, maybe it’s the Brazileño, but wherever this superstition comes from, we abide by its laws. The luck of the new year is all in the color of su ropa.

Want your year de amor? Wear red underwear.

CREDIT: @UndiesMX / Twitter

For some reason, our parents will be the first to tell you that if you wear red underwear, you’ll attract your soulmate in the next year. “It’s the law of attraction,” they say.

Want that money? Wear fresh yellow panties.

CREDIT: @Dingo_Bln / Twitter

I know. I hate the word ‘panties,’ too, but this is the script in the Great Book of Superstitions. They all say to wear yellow panties if you want good fortune next year. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Another way to earn that dough is by holding silver coins in your hand at midnight.

CREDIT: The Late Show / CBS

I mean, this one makes sense–if you follow the Law of Attraction. Make it rain, 2019.

Screw your left foot. You’re standing on your right at midnight to start the year off right.

CREDIT: The Little Mermaid / Disney

Just like we all know to walk onto an airplane with your right foot for life-saving luck, we all know to flamingo it up at midnight. Raise your hand if you made a fool of yourself the first NYE with blanquitos. 🙋🏽

Burn your enemies. Literally.

CREDIT: @Anna_Mazz / Twitter

Burn photos of the men that ghosted you, of the boss who unfollowed you on social media, of every resentment you hold dear in your heart from this terrible, terrible year. Don’t carry it with you–let the fire take it all.

Palo Santo your entire home and cuerpo.

CREDIT: @MendesCrewInfo / Twitter

Some of us use sage but most of us use Palo Santo. We flood the house with it’s purifying smoke to rid the house of ghosts, bad energy, etc. to make room for the good that’ll come with the new year.

Every single light must be on in the house at midnight.

CREDIT: @roshnip77 / Twitter

It’s the one time of year your mami isn’t running around, turning off lights, yelling, “Y que? Piensas que soy un banco?” It “brightens” the new year.

Quick! Do three squats.


Well, it’s more like, get off your ass and stand up. Now sit back down and do that three more times. Voila! You’re going to get married next year. De nada.

It’s 2018 so we’re creating new traditions.

CREDIT: @BadSalishGirl / Twitter

Honestly, mosre people need to get in on this one.

I’ll be saving my energy to smash white corporate supremacy in 2019, hbu?

CREDIT: @Shannon_Grayson / Twitter

What crazy traditions will you keep and which will you bury? Comment below!

READ: NYE Traditions That Seem Weird AF To Everyone Else But Latinos

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!