Hispanics

New York Times offers totally faith-free look at why Hispanic American birth rate is plunging

New York Times offers totally faith-free look at why Hispanic American birth rate is plunging

You know that old saying, “Demographics are destiny”?

Here at GetReligion we have an observation about religion news trends that is linked to that: “Doctrine is destiny,” especially when doctrines are linked to marriage and family.

I thought of that when reading a long New York Times feature that ran the other day with this headline: “Why Birthrates Among Hispanic Americans Have Plummeted.

Now, I am sure that this is a very complex subject and that there are lots of trends linked to it. However, I found it fascinating — stunning, actually — that this story is missing one rather logical word — “Catholic.” How do you write about Latino families, marriage and children and not even mention Catholicism and its doctrines (think contraceptives, for starters) on those subjects?

However, the Times team managed to pull that off. Here is a crucial chunk of this story:

As fertility rates across the United States continue to decline — 2017 had the country’s lowest rate since the government started keeping records — some of the largest drops have been among Hispanics. The birthrate for Hispanic women fell by 31 percent from 2007 to 2017, a steep decline that demographers say has been driven in part by generational differences between Hispanic immigrants and their American-born daughters and granddaughters.

It is a story of becoming more like other Americans. Nearly two-thirds of Hispanics in the United States today are born in this country, a fact that is often lost in the noisy political battles over immigration. Young American-born Hispanic women are less likely to be poor and more likely to be educated than their immigrant mothers and grandmothers, according to the Pew Research Center, and many are delaying childbearing to finish school and start careers, just like other American-born women.

“Hispanics are in essence catching up to their peers,” said Lina Guzman, a demographer at Child Trends, a nonprofit research group.

Catholic thinkers would note that the phrase “catching up” contains some interesting assumptions.

Meanwhile, if you know anything about Catholic culture and Hispanics, you know — at the very least — that the regions in the United States in which the church is growing are those  where immigrants from Mexico and Latin America are thriving.

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Friday Five: End of the World, Kavanaugh-Ford, virgins, young evangelicals, Hispanic Catholics, Jesus Lyft

Friday Five: End of the World, Kavanaugh-Ford, virgins, young evangelicals, Hispanic Catholics, Jesus Lyft

I don’t know. That music video just seemed appropriate this week.

Really, I try not to let headlines dictate my mood. I’m a Christian, and I truly believe that my hope is built on Jesus and his righteousness. But Thursday was tough.

Not only was there the all-day Kavanaugh-Ford hearing that epitomized just how divided our nation has become, but in my home state of Oklahoma, a hedge fund bought The Oklahoman, our state’s largest newspaper and my former employer.

Poynter.org described this depressing, cold-hearted scene:

Employees reported being alerted via email yesterday to a mandatory meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. They sat through a 35-minute presentation about the sale and upcoming changes before being informed of the layoffs.

Publisher Chris Reen addressed the staffers and said those who'd been laid off had just been notified via email, and their firings were effective immediately.

The entire room then checked their phones, as the meeting disintegrated.

My first inclination was to cancel my subscription in protest. However, that would hurt the remaining journalists, so I won’t.

So with all of that in the background, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

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Who's not with the program? White evangelicals, according to RNS

Who's not with the program? White evangelicals, according to RNS

Who is out of step with the country? Oh, you know. It's the white evangelicals.

That’s the apparent upshot of a story by the Religion News Service on a new survey.  The study, by the Public Religion Research Institute, highlights anxieties among Americans about immigration, terrorism, discrimination and cultural change.

But for RNS, it seems to come down to a single social-racial-religious class: white evangelical Protestants.

Americans also are split on whether American culture and the country’s way of life have mostly changed for the better (49 percent) or worse (50 percent) since the 1950s.
And, the PRRI/Brookings report said, "no group of Americans is more nostalgic about the 1950s than white evangelical Protestants," with 70 percent saying the country has changed for the worse. Americans also split politically on the question: 68 percent of Republicans agree things have gotten worse, while nearly the same share of Democrats (66 percent) say times are better.

This despite the next paragraph, which says that overall, 72 percent of Americans agree that "the country is moving in the wrong direction" -- up from 65 percent in 2011. "And most (57 percent) believe they should fight for their values, even if they are at odds with the law and changing culture," the article adds.

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Gay Hispanics: Miami Herald stumbles in spinoff story from Orlando shootings

Gay Hispanics: Miami Herald stumbles in spinoff story from Orlando shootings

After gay rights, gun control and (more gingerly) Islamic terrorism, coverage of the mass shooting in Orlando gets subdivided in a weekend story in The Miami Herald, which examines the atrocity from the standpoint of gay Hispanics.

It's an interesting angle -- especially in Florida, the port of entry for many from Central and Latin America -- but it has some flaws. For one, it misses some religious "ghosts." The article brings up the topic of religion, then bounces off. Instead, it emphasizes twin themes:

Some want to make sure one fact is not forgotten: The vast majority of victims were Hispanics.
"This was not just an LGBT community," said Zoe Colon, director of Florida and southeast operations for the Hispanic Federation. "This was a Latino LGBT community."

Not that the tragedy doesn't call for a sensitive treatment. The newspaper appropriately tells the reactions of Orlando resident Edwin Lopez as he learned that 12 of the 49 people killed in the Pulse nightclub were personal friends.

Then the story launches rather blithely into a connection with a more general issue:

A difficult conversation has started about the struggle of being an LGBT person of color. For many Hispanics, a traditionally Christian culture laced with machismo and traditional gender roles could foster fear of rejection from one’s own family. That fear can prevent young people from coming out to their loved ones.
"You don’t want to be judged by your family. Those are the only people who have really been supportive of you your entire life," said Dominique Sanchez. The 19-year-old said she’s known people close to her who are reluctant to be open about their sexuality. "Your friends come and go. So if [your family doesn’t] accept you, then you don’t accept yourself."

We'll just note a few things in passing. One is whether Hispanics are people of color. I've met Cubans, Nicaraguans and others with skin lighter than my own, and I'm a white Anglo.

The Herald also offers no estimates on the number of gay Hispanics. Hence, we don't know the size of the social issue that’s the heart of this story.

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Seriously? New York Times story on GOP schism is silent on 'pew gap' issues (updated)

Seriously? New York Times story on GOP schism is silent on 'pew gap' issues (updated)

As you would expect, the political experts at The New York Times have noticed that, once again, war has broken out between the populist and country-club wings of the Republican Party. Thus, they produced a very interesting piece that ran under the headline, "For Republicans, Mounting Fears of Lasting Split."

This story will be interesting, to GetReligion readers, just as much because of what the editors left out, as well as that they put in. They correctly stress that, this time around, the GOP leaders face fundamental differences on a host of crucial issues such as immigration, rising tides of refugees and how far to go in battles with radical forms of Islam.

It is also interesting that, over and over, the piece equates the candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz with that of billionaire reality-TV star Donald Trump. The implication is that they are appealing to many of the same voters and that there isn't much difference between the two.

But what is missing? To be blunt: Religion.

So, do you remember the "pew gap"? Apparently, it is completely gone or is now irrelevant in GOP debates, as well as the nation has a whole. Is that really true in the GOP? It must be true, because the Times team -- in this crucial piece about the threat of a GOP split -- completely ignores religious and moral issues (even as the U.S. Supreme Court faces case after case linked to religious liberty issues).

So what is the "pew gap"? Many people used to incorrectly claim that religious people vote for Republicans and non-religious people vote for Democrats. While it is true that highly secular and religiously unaffiliated voters are crucial in the Democratic coalition, there are also religious believers active in doctrinally liberal flocks -- which makes them a perfect fit in the modern Democratic Party. However, a crucial "pew gap" fact is that liberal religious groups tend to be smaller in terms of numbers.

If you are looking for the roots of the "pew gap" -- the fact that people who frequent pews are more likely to vote Republican -- then it's hard to top the 2003 Atlantic Monthly essay called "Blue Movie," written by Thomas Byrne Edsall. This is a flashback, of course, to a campaign dominated by Bill Clinton, not Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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Crux chronicles Mormons versus Catholics in Salt Lake City evangelism efforts

Crux chronicles Mormons versus Catholics in Salt Lake City evangelism efforts

The massive immigration of Hispanics to northward into the United States over the past 50 years and how that influx has shaped American churches is one of the century’s biggest religion stories.

Even back in the 1980s, when I was covering religion for the Houston Chronicle, the word on the street was that for every Latino Catholic who made it across the border, plenty of Baptists and Pentecostals lay in wait to evangelize them. The mainline Protestant churches got into the act as well. Fast forward to around 2009 or 2010 at my Episcopal congregation in Maryland. At our Spanish-language service, 90 percent of the congregation were former Catholics.

The Roman Catholics haven’t taken this lying down, but it’s been an uneven fight, with one side undergoing a priest shortage with a typical congregation numbering in the thousands versus smaller and more nimble Protestant churches.

The Mormons have gotten into the act as well, as this article from Crux illustrates. This passage is long, but crucial:

The allure of secularism combined with efforts by other Christian denominations to appeal to Latino sensibilities has resulted in a mad scramble by Catholic leaders to create welcoming communities before a mass Hispanic exodus dramatically reshapes its once certain future.
Here in Salt Lake City, where the dominant Mormon population is known for its strong emphasis on community, the Catholic Church faces a specific set of challenges…

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Putting a real face on Pew's Latino religious identity survey

The Pew Research Center released a report Wednesday titled “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States,” based on a nationwide survey of 5,000 Hispanics, and it’s making headlines. As always, it’s interesting to see the specific angles taken by major news organizations.

By all accounts, Hispanics are the future of Catholicism in America. Already, most young Roman Catholics in the United States are Hispanic, and soon that will be true of the overall Catholic population. But the Hispanicization of American Catholicism faces a big challenge: Hispanics are leaving Catholicism at a striking rate.

It has been clear for years that Catholicism, both in the United States and Latin America, has been losing adherents to evangelical Protestantism, and, in particular, to Pentecostal and other charismatic churches. But as an increasing percentage of the American Hispanic population is made up of people born in this country, a simultaneous, competing form of faith-switching is also underway: More American Hispanics are leaving Catholicism and becoming religiously unaffiliated.

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Putting a real face on Pew's Latino religious identity survey

The Pew Research Center released a report Wednesday titled “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States,” based on a nationwide survey of 5,000 Hispanics, and it’s making headlines. As always, it’s interesting to see the specific angles taken by major news organizations.

By all accounts, Hispanics are the future of Catholicism in America. Already, most young Roman Catholics in the United States are Hispanic, and soon that will be true of the overall Catholic population. But the Hispanicization of American Catholicism faces a big challenge: Hispanics are leaving Catholicism at a striking rate.

It has been clear for years that Catholicism, both in the United States and Latin America, has been losing adherents to evangelical Protestantism, and, in particular, to Pentecostal and other charismatic churches. But as an increasing percentage of the American Hispanic population is made up of people born in this country, a simultaneous, competing form of faith-switching is also underway: More American Hispanics are leaving Catholicism and becoming religiously unaffiliated.

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Public esteem for journalists sinking. Why?

I’m not ashamed to say that I love journalism. I’m elated that I get to work in this field and I love the work I get to do. I have high regard for the good that journalists’ accomplish, this week providing just one example. You can’t be a media critic without being aware of the downsides. Heck, it’s my job to look at problems with media coverage. And yet still, I am so very thankful for newspapers and media outlets that tell us about the world around us. When I read a story about an event or an interview, I try to remember what a blessing it is that someone was there and took the time to tell me about it.

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