Latinos

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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For reporters looking ahead: How politics will impact the Catholic church in 2019

For reporters looking ahead: How politics will impact the Catholic church in 2019

Elections matter. That’s the mantra you hear from both Republicans and Democrats — usually from the side that won said election — every time a piece of legislation being pushed finds legislative obstacles and serious opposition.

The recent midterm elections saw a split decision (Dems took the House, while the GOP held the Senate), leaving the nation polarized as ever heading into the what is expected to be a political slog heading into the 2020 presidential race. With the Catholic vote split down the middle again following these recent elections, it’s worth noting that Catholics, as well as the church itself, will be tested starting in January with the start of a new legislative session from Congress down to the state level.

Indeed, elections matter. Here are three storylines editors and journalists at mainstream news outlets should look out for that will impact the church in the coming year:

Clergy sex abuse: As the scandals — that mostly took place in past — continue to trickle out in the form of grand jury reports and other investigations, look for lawmakers to try and remedy the situation for victims through legislation on the state level.

With very blue New York State voting to put Democrats in control of both the state Assembly and Senate (the GOP had maintained a slight majority), look for lawmakers to pass (and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, to sign) the Child Victims Act. The Empire State isn’t alone. Other legislatures in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey and New Mexico are considering similar measures.

The New York legislation would allow victims of abuse suffered under the age of 18 to seek justice years later as adults. Removing the statute of limitations on cases involving private institutions, like the Boy Scouts and Jewish yeshivas, is at the heart of the battle.

New York law currently prevents victims from proceeding with criminal cases once they turn 23. As we know, many victims don't come forward until years later. The church has opposed past attempts at the legislation — along with the GOP — after successful lobbying efforts by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. The ability to sue the church, even many years later, could bankrupt parishes, while public schools would be immune to such penalties. Another source of contention in the legislation is the one-year “look back” window that would allow victims to bring decades-old cases to civil court.

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Ah, those mysterious Protestant Evangelicals, as pondered by our cultural elites

Ah, those mysterious Protestant Evangelicals, as pondered by our cultural elites

Just when you thought you’d seen enough analysis of those U.S. Protestant Evangelicals to last a lifetime or two, a major April release is commanding yet more ink: “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” by Frances FitzGerald (Simon & Schuster).

Any book from FitzGerald, a boldface author who won the Pulitzer Prize for her Vietnam lament “Fire in the Lake” (1972), gets guaranteed media attention. Her latest, hailed as “masterful” by Time magazine, will surely be mandatory reading for religion writers. This blockbuster has already gained major reviews from highbrow analysts Randall Balmer, Alan Wolfe and Garry Wills (also a Pulitzer medalist).

The Religion Guy has yet to read this 740-pager but is wary after learning that FitzGerald pays so much attention to figures like Rousas Rushdoony. His idiosyncratic theocracy scheme frightens the journalism natives, but is hardly representative of mainstream evangelicalism, or even of its most politicized segments.

Otherwise, the reviews provide  significant cultural indicators of how elitists view a movement that’s somehow so mystifying and unnerving to outsiders, and the way adherents are ogled with condescension, particularly after so many voted for Donald J. Trump. Irredeemable deplorables, anyone?    

Balmer, Dartmouth’s religion chair and the author of a somewhat competing 2016 title, “Evangelicalism in America” (Baylor University Press), says having such a “distinguished author” undertake this topic should be “cause for celebration.” But he finds the result “curiously pinched and narrow.”

One of his criticisms, echoed by others, is that FitzGerald’s narrative omits African-American Protestants. That’s an important choice that the Religion Guy finds justifiable because these believers, as well as Latino Protestants, have such  distinct subcultures. Explaining the larger population of “white” evangelicals is more than enough for one book.

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'Nasty' Ted Cruz dares to quote the Bible! Washington Post is stunned and strikes back

'Nasty' Ted Cruz dares to quote the Bible! Washington Post is stunned and strikes back

So let's say that you are a political reporter from The Washington Post and you are covering a rally by Sen. Marco Rubio and, in the middle of remarks to his inner-ring of supporters, he says something in Spanish. The crowd responds with warm applause and cheers.

As a responsible reporter, would you (a) do an online search and find out what this phrase actually meant, (b) talk to someone from the Latino community to learn what the phrase meant, in context, and why it drew cheers or (c) both of the above? It is also possible that a major newsroom like the Post would have assigned someone to cover the Rubio campaign who speaks Spanish, but that is another issue.

Oh wait, there is another option. You could also pull the phrase out of context, assume that you knew what it meant and then, online, make a snarky remark about it. That will show 'em.

This is kind of what happened the other day with some behind-the-scenes remarks by Sen. Ted Cruz. The problem was that this event was covered by someone who appeared not to know anything about language drawn from that obscure book called The Bible. Here's the top of the story:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told volunteers ... he believes the Republican presidential contest will be decided in the next 90 days, but warned them to get ready for a nasty ride.
"I want to tell everyone to get ready, strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming," a hoarse-sounding Cruz told volunteers on a conference call. "Come the month of January we ain’t seen nothing yet."
The call, part thank you and update to volunteers and part fundraising pitch where listeners could press a button to give a donation, comes after Cruz's campaign announced it raised nearly $20 million last quarter as the Texas Republican ascended in the polls in both Iowa, the nation's first voting state, and nationally.

Then there was this official Post remark on Twitter, promoting this news report:

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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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Upwardly mobile Hispanic evangelical converts?

Earlier this month, Time magazine published a 3,500-word cover story on what it dubbed “The Latino Reformation.” But the full text of the article is available online only to subscribers.

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That all-but-missing detail about Jeb Bush's life

Catholics here in America have a very intense and interesting relationship with the mainstream press.

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