As number of Latino evangelicals grows, it's not politics as usual
January 13th, 2012
05:56 PM ET

As number of Latino evangelicals grows, it's not politics as usual

Editor's Note: What really matters to Latino voters in the 2012 election? Watch the In America documentary about Latino voters in October 2012 on CNN.

By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

(CNN) - It’s a greeting that always makes Mark Jobe smile: “I really loved today’s Mass, Father Mark.”

Jobe is the senior pastor of New Life Community Church, which has 14 campuses across Chicago and its suburbs. He said he hears those words at least once a month, usually from newcomers - Hispanics raised in the Catholic faith who’ve started attending his non-denominational Christian church.

When Jobe launched New Life Community Church 25 years ago, the Midway neighborhood where his main campus is located was primarily populated by descendants of Polish, Lithuanian and Italian immigrants. Now, the neighborhood is primarily Hispanic.

Jobe estimates that as much as 70% of New Life’s 6,000 members are Hispanic.

“They don’t typically undermine [the church] where they came from,” Jobe said.
“They value the tradition, but what they often tell me is that they were not learning as much about the Bible and how it relates to their life today.”

The shift at New Life Community Church in Chicago is a reflection of a national trend, according to Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“While three-quarters of first-generation Hispanics [in the United States] are Catholic, the percentage for second- and third-generation Latinos goes down to less than 60%,” Lugo said. “Generation makes a huge difference. Later generations are much more likely to be converts.”

Why does it matter? According to the Pew Forum, there are key political differences among Latinos based on their religious preference.

Hispanic Catholics tend to vote Democrat by a two-to-one margin while Evangelicals and Pentecostals are evenly split between the two parties. In 2004, then President George W. Bush won 60% of the Latino evangelicals, a percentage that political parties are likely to pay attention to as they develop their strategy for the 2012 presidential election.

Hispanic evangelicals and Pentecostals tend to be more politically active than Catholics, have higher rates of citizenship and exercise their right to vote.

As more than 150 conservative Christian leaders will take part in a two-day meeting this weekend to consider unifying their support behind one Republican candidate. The leaders include well-known evangelicals such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, but also the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Politically speaking, Pew’s Lugo describes Latino evangelicals as “big government, social conservatives.” They tend to favor strong education, jobs and health programs, even above immigration. Still, they are staunchly conservative when it comes to issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

The Catholic church is taking note that attracting Latino churchgoers isn’t just a matter of hosting Spanish-language services. Alejandro Aguilera-Titus, director of Hispanic ministry for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says “there’s no doubt” that second- and third-generation Latinos are not flocking to the Catholic church the way their parents did. But he says in recent years the conference has launched a number of initiatives to attract them.

In Miami, a program called Jóvenes Para Cristo, or Youth for Christ, is part of the outreach effort, along with Pascua Juvenil, or Easter Youth, in southern California. Both initiatives focus on personalizing religious experiences and emphasizing the Holy Spirit and “a joyful expression of faith” through music - much like evangelical churches.

“For many years, it was assumed that [Hispanic] kids would just assimilate into the existing programs for children and youth and that was the wrong assumption to make,” Aguilera-Titus said.

Jobe, the Chicago pastor, was born in Indiana, but grew up in Costa Rica and Spain with missionary parents. Fluent Spanish makes it easier for him to relate to Hispanic newcomers, he said, but most of the Latinos attending his church are second- or third-generation Hispanics who preserve their ancestors’ culture, but no longer speak their language.

“A lot of them are like my wife, Dee,” Jobe said. “Her grandparents came from Michoacán, Mexico. Her parents spoke Spanish as a second language and the kids know a few words in Spanish, but none of them really speaks the language.”

Nicole Sandoval Williams, 29, is a Latina Los Angeles native who was raised Catholic, but became a born-again Christian in college. She felt the religion of her parents and grandparents was no longer relevant, which led her to consider some different ideas.

“As a third-generation Mexican-American, I was not as connected to my roots as my parents and grandparents,” Sandoval Williams said. “You’re trying to find out for yourself what you believe in.”

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Filed under: Latino in America • Politics • Religion • Who we are
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Tim

    Is it really true that a higher proportion of evangelicals are citizens/ active citizens than catholics among Latinos? "Hispanic evangelicals and Pentecostals tend to be more politically active than Catholics, have higher rates of citizenship and exercise their right to vote." Or is it simply that since protestantism is more prevalent among second-generation individuals, it is a logical conclusion that there is a higher proportion of protestants who are citizens – not because of their faith, but simply because of the demographic reality: second generation (ie, born in the US) = more likely to be a citizen?

    January 17, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. Watch oUT!

    All any Hispanic person of any faith has to do to decide who they want to vote with and lay down with, is to read the comment sections of Immigration articles like these.


    Hispanic Republican voters are like Black Republican voters. The things they want are exactly what the Republican party fights AGAINST !!! Plus the Republicans HATE..... "THEM" !!!!

    IF hispanics vote for Republicans over gay marriage or abortion. They should stop to realize. The Republican party will NEVER vote to stop abortion!!! They just had control of EVERY branch of govornment under Bush. And they did NOT overturn the abortion laws when they were free to pass any law they wanted.

    These two issues are just vote getting ploys. Once they have power the do everything they can to prevent you from getting ANY of the other things you want.

    January 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sick of the hatred

      Dear Watchout, True Christians do not hate other people. We love hispanics. Hispanics are wonderful friends and passionate followers of Jesus when they worship with us.
      The only true thing I feel from your post is your hatred for conservative Christians who happen to be Republicans. I invite you to try real Christianity. You won't find in in major college divinity schools. But search out individuals who really love God, and your life will be changes.

      January 26, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lance

    OK please tell me why this article about Latino's and FAITH is inundated with such racist garbage? White people want to call Mexicans lazy until they need there houses built, there gardens tended or their food crops pics. If there is a race of people that work harder for less money show me. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. As a black contractor, i can't tell you the number of LAZY white men i have had to let go (too many to count). As for the Latinos, they can't be beat which is why I make it a point to pay Everyone a fair wage. Disgusting rhetoric white America... truly disgusting.

    January 15, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • ElreyJones

      I know a lot of white contractors who will not hire blacks because they are racist, lazy, violent, and untrustworthy. Yet these brothers will hire latinos. It is not just because latinos are mostly white people (although tanned). It is because the latinos will work, are easy going, and not violent i.e. just the opposite of black people. I don't see hard working black people anywhere. I see a lot of them wearing fine clothes taking their time going to work but hard working? Blacks have no work ethic and that is exactly why their unemployment numbers are so high. they won't work and nobody wants to hire them because they don't work hard. Simple as that.

      January 15, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Lance, what "racist garbage" is the article "filled with?" If it is, please show me specifically.

      January 17, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. will

    obama won with 67% of the latino vote...there wont be any swiching over no time soon...regardless of the hispanic evangelicals. proud latino democrate.

    January 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emmy Skaddittle

      As long as the republican\tea party continues to treat all Latinos as criminals, why would they vote republican?

      January 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MaliMafia

    Aieee, carumba.............¿Qué haría Jesús

    January 14, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. silly

    over 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone and there are far more planets than stars.

    no doubt there must be life somewhere out there and based on our newness, they had a jump on technology.

    Can you imagine a bunch of aliens coming here about 2,000 years ago, one saying to the other 'Do you want to play a jesus joke here too?'

    January 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lilgtogirl

    Proving once again that only the uneducated and mindless follow religion. Now they just do it in Spanish.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • chefdugan

      I don 't care what these Hispanics believe, just so they go somewhere else to practice it. They are a real danger to AMerican culture and we had better stop the flow of sewage into the US.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
      • 1crusader

        Your ancestors were the "illegals" of their day if they came here from Europe, established the 13 original colonies, and eventually took the Indians land from them, Maybe everyone here that falls into that category, should be sent back to Europe.

        January 14, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • GAW

      @ lilgtogirl Thanks for trying to turn atheism into a hate group.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lou

    love that welfare

    January 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. matt damon

    What do you get when you combine the laziest race with the most ignorant religion. Human waste. Thanks Mexico!

    January 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike R

      Your mom is excrement from a gorilla reject. Any your a discrace to your own race, you wanna-be.... bird-sht

      January 13, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chicagoan Now Out Of Town

        Try living around those pus-bags. My mother still is, and I'm afraid for her. All I can say is that I'm glad my car has alloy wheels, because if it had hubcaps, they'd be gone within ten seconds.

        January 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • AK


      I spent the last 9 ears running construction projects. The drywallers, framers, and finishers were almost 100% Spanish-speakers, obvious immigrants. I have never seen my fellow white men (except perhaps immigrants and 1st generation) work so hard, so well, and so fast.

      You wouldn't be a union-member white guy, would you? Would explain a lot.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • AK

        BTW, I am a very conservative Repub who favors strict immigration controls, simply for reasons of national security. They vet out of the system as good guys, and want to work, let 'em come.

        January 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaliMafia


      January 14, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ineluctable

    Los republicanos hablan para mí.

    January 13, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tr1Xen

    The guy in the picture looks like he's about nut in his pants.

    January 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tr1Xen

      about *to* nut. lol

      January 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ryder

    When CNN is going to make their minds and correct the stupidity to keep calling Hispanics Latinos just for the record there is a difference. We Latinos don't like to be call Hispanics we don't even like to be associated with the word. A Hispanic is somebody who was born in the Caribbean,like Puerto Rican,Dominicans and Cubans......Latino a person born in South or Central America born in the mainland for us Latinos be calling Hispanics is a slap in the face. I ask the reported from CNN if he will dare to call an Irish man a British probably not...knowing that he (she) will get seriously hurt on the spot. We Latinos are very different then Hispanics our Spanish language is close to perfect while the Hispanics are all over the map speaking a dialect (patois) and using the welfare system like their checking accounts like Puerto Rico who through the years proof to be a liability to the United State of America

    January 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derek Mendez

      I'm Hispanic, (Mexican on my dad's side) and we grew up with Castilian. Latino implies that you weren't born in the U.S., go ahead... pick up a dictionary. So keep that term and we U.S. born Hispanics will keep ours or better yet, go back to your country.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProudHISPANIC

      I am proud to be call Hispanic...I embrace my Spanish roots. Colonialization happened, it was not a bad dream, we need to learn to move on. If you do not want to be called Hispanic, stop speaking Spanish. If you prefer the term "Latino" learn Italian, latin etc.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sophie

      As a Puerto Rican who has worked hard all her life and it's educated, I find your comments highly offensive. You are putting all Hispanics in the same category which is racist. I am used to racism, but seeing it from another Spanish speaker it's truly sad. Yes, the cultures might be different, the dialects might be different, but as an educated Puerto Rican I speak correct Spanish and English (yes, I learned both). Instead of pointing fingers at who is the most Hispanic or Latino (or whatever sounds better to you), maybe we need to stick together are realize that we both suffer from discrimination and should help each other instead of spewing hate and ignorance. I am sure there are lazy people living on welfare from many different backgrounds, so you need to stop generalizing, it only shows your ignorance.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Where are you getting your information from? I suggest you do yourself a big favor and, before you decide to blatantly display your ignorance, pick up a dictionary. Latin America includes all countries where Spanish or Portuguese is the main national language (Mexico, the whole of Central and South America, many Caribbean islands AND BRAZIL). Anyways, your second argument is even more shameful and ridiculous. Oh, and in case you're wondering, according to your logic, I am a "Latino", who speaks and writes near perfect Spanish, am well educated and have never been on welfare my entire life.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry in Houston

      @ Derek / Proud Hispanic / Sophie & Al – – I agree with you all – Ryder must be missing a few marbles in his head, or he's not too educated. I've only lived here in Houston for about 6 yrs. I have travelled all over the U.S. (mainly the states above the Mason-dixon line) and lived mostly in the northeast. They ALL say that, when they are reffering to Hispanics / or Latinos. Those people up north say Latinos & Hispanics, because they are all pretty much the same. Most of the states that are Northern, don't know, so when they hear the word "Latino" or "Hispanic" they think they are all either mexican or anybody that has roots from puerto rico / dominicans /cubans/ ( they are all the same) Hispanic or Latino is One & the Same. Ryder – you need re-educated, man. That is like saying that an Iraqi is not an Arab . That is like saying Libya people or Iran People or Lebanese people, or Syrian People ARE NOT ARABS. They are All arab people. doesn't matter if your from Beirut or Dubai -Those are arab countries. and I can go on with other nationality's. but will stop here.( french /german /dutch / english / scotch / )

      January 13, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • martin

        Actually, both Ryder AND you are wrong. You're right that we should not differentiate between Hispanic and Latino, but very wrong when it comes to Arabs. Most Iranians are NOT Arabs for example. They are persian and speak Farsi, which is NOT arabic. They actually learn both Farsi and Arabic in school separately.

        On the "Latino" side, I agree with you with one caveat, I don't even think it's fair politically to throw all "hispanics" into one bag depending on what is being discussed. Castllean (Spanish) language and culture permeates but culturally there ARE differences. Native Mexicans for example have very little in common with native Argentineans or Chileans.

        If we can call our people "Hispanic" or "Latino" (I actually don't care, but note Italians are Latino as well, the Portuguese and arguably even the French too!) then we should have the right to call all white european people Anglos, not American, and we would need to include Australia and Canada and New Zealand and South Africa while we're at it.

        Does this make sense? It's contextual but one should be alert as to what is meant when the terms are used...

        January 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Please, Seriamente, enlighten me.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Argle Bargle

    And if this crap keeps up and people don't keep the separation of Church and State, we'll end up just like the Islamic states and their one religion – death to anyone who opposes it. It's happened before and it'll happen again.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • SurRy


      January 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timmy

      Church and State could never truly be separated. They are one in the same. In the Bible God is consider the King, Statue-giver, and Judge. He is all things to all people. He has the right to Rule people, Set standards and morals, and Judge people by his own standards he created because he is Righteous and Perfect. In the United States, the People decided that's too much for one person so we will divide it up into three sections: Executive, Judicial, and Legislative. The problem with this is, who really has the final say? You need all 3 Branches to function yet, Get rid of the Executive and no one is checked or held accountable for wrongdoing. Get rid of the Legislative and anyone can do what they want because nothing is written to say what I'm doing is wrong or immoral? Get rid of the Judicial, you ever hear people say "don't Judge me" well they would be right for there would be no have the final say on what is right and what is wrong, legal, morally, etc. Religious organizations that follow the bible enforce what God (3 Branches in one) already has written down in his book. Therefore members can guide, decide, and be tried all by what is written in that thick book called the Bible which is virtually in every household. To wrap this up, you cannot if you are Christian, say you want God, who is Perfect to be your Leader (with the concept he is all 3 branches of a principal government) and at the same time want a human Ruler to be be all things to everyone who does not have that power. Even a perfect Dictator who supposedly has all three branches invested in him will eventually suffer the same eventuality as Kim Jon ll, they will pass away. But not God, he lives forever. So simply put if you are a true christian you cannot have both a human ruler and God ruling you too, God clearly expresses himself in the Bible that he will not share his Glory with anyone else. Keeping Church and State Separate is what people in the the United States experience with its current governmental structure. Very soon God will unite Church and State by what he call Armageddon in the Bible which is God's war to end all wars. Then only one government will be left standing and only one religion will be left standing and they both will operate earth wide under the Power of God's Name, with no conflict of interest.

      January 14, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
      • MP75

        Wonder when our government will stop worshiping Israel instead of God.

        January 14, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. W.G.

    Bush never did anything about abortion and he got us into 2 wars , changed laws to make the rich richer and
    his V.P.´s daughter was G-Y (a) . Isn´t Christian to tend to the needs of the poor and homeless and hungry ?
    Republican candidates constantly throw the "Welfare " word around like it´s worse than murder . None
    of the republican candidates would ever go to a "NAACP" meeting much less even care about their concerns .
    It´s only in Supermans "Bizzaro" world that the republican party could ever be considered the party of Christ .

    January 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Dude

    If heaven is such a wonderful awesome place why is it such a sacrifice to allow yourself to die if you know that is where you are going, and are the #2 in charge?

    Seems to me the sacrifice would be to stay alive and suffer here with us mortal vermin.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  16. 21k

    latinos are allowed to be mindless nitwits too. just like our righteous white kkk baptists. can anyone translate this into spanish for me: how come god didn't stop hitler from murdering so many innocent people?

    January 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mia

      God did not stop Hitler because Hitler did not allow God in his life. Hitler followed Satan!!

      January 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  17. thes33k3r

    This only proves that no group is immune from the collection of lies and nonsense that we call religion.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Dumbos

    Good, now stay out of politics fools.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  19. The Dude


    January 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Chicagoan Now Out Of Town

    What a shame that the neighborhood I grew up in has been infested by this disease. And they've made driving and parking around there a pain to boot.

    January 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Cardfan

    WOW!! The aura of "tolerance" and "co-existing" just ooze from this page.

    January 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Talitha

    "...A Latina Los Angeles native who was raised Catholic, but became a born-again Christian in college."

    What a strange statement. Catholics ARE Christians. Don't you mean a Protestant Christian, perhaps?

    January 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rickster

      @Talitha A born-again Christian aka Evangelical is a Protestant who believe after conversion that they are reborn again. Catholics don't believe in being born again after baptism.
      @john316 And automatically calling someone gullible for believing in any religion doesn't sound brainwashed either?

      January 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Dude

        "@john316 And automatically calling someone gullible for believing in any religion doesn't sound brainwashed either?"

        No Rick, it sounds rational.

        January 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Sean

    Goodguy1: VIVA ZAPATA!

    January 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Sean

    If they didn't already have enough problems, they're becoming holy rollers. Maybe the moral majority will finally accept them?

    January 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  25. john316

    I think it means that they are as gullible as their non-latino counterparts......it's amazing that people beg to be brainwashed and told what to do and what to think after all these years of information .....why is that....please someone explain.....as my parents used to say "just because" ................... because what?

    January 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      people of all religions including athiesm are just as bad. including people that say god doesnt exist. you are gullible enough to listen to what another person says and believes it blindly.. thats pretty sad

      January 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • Chippy

        "people of all religions including athiesm are just as bad. including people that say god doesnt exist"
        Jay, athiesm is not a religion.
        And "people that say god doesn't exist" are, uh, Atheists.

        January 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • CajunW

      Have you ever read the ever changing hypothetical ideas about evolution...it's a new unproven fact put out with each new archaeological dig. Yet, atheist believe this stuff as gospel without even having a missing link at the museum. Go figure.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Samian

    At the end of the day, they'll still vote Democrat. Would they really support banning abortion and preventing gay couples from marrying if it means their communities are racially stigmatized and their loved ones get deported? Obviously not.

    January 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      The borderline racism coming from the GOP is the only thing keeping Latinos away. Obama has deported over 1 million illegals, the Hispanic community will hand him the White House anyway.

      January 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Astonished

      I am not racially stigmatized and my loved ones will not be deported because we are not all here illegally, you stereotyping bigot. And I will not vote Democrat. Don't even try to put me or mine into a box you dope. I am your boss, your cook, your police officer, your mayor, your neighbor, your tax collector, your housekeeper and you do not get to define me or my politics.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Goodguy1

    Great Article. Latinos are as diverse as anybody. VIVA ESTADOS UNIDOS ! VIVA LATINOS

    January 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mia

      Good statement. However, without stereotyping ANYONE, I am proud to be AMERICAN. I appreciate and love those who fought and died to keep our coutry free. It is because of this freedom that we have a diversity and people can make up their own minds about their politics!!

      January 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |