Among Latino Christians, who comprise 99% of Latinos who profess a religious faith, 39% say they use the terms “born again” or “evangelical” to describe themselves; that includes 28% of Catholics and 70% of non-Catholic Christians. A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center also shows that many of those who are joining evangelical churches are Catholic converts. The desire for a more direct, personal experience of God emerges as by far the most potent motive for these conversions. Although these converts express some dissatisfaction with the lack of excitement in a typical Catholic Mass, negative views of Catholicism do not appear to be a major reason for their conversion.While several religious practices are common to all Hispanics regardless of religious tradition, other behaviors are more tradition-specific. For instance, participation in prayer groups, Bible study groups and other small religious meetings are quite common among Latino evangelicals (75% participate in such groups at least once a month). By contrast, such practices are much less common among Latino Catholics and mainline Protestants; among these groups, fewer than half (31% and 47%, respectively) participate in such activities at least once a month. The same generally holds true for two other religious activities: Bible reading and evangelism. More than three-quarters of Latino evangelicals (78%) read the Scriptures at least once a week, while only 38% of Latinos who are mainline Protestants and 27% of Catholics do so. And about eight-in-ten Latino evangelicals (79%) evangelize at least once a month. Latinos who are mainline Protestants and Catholics, on the other hand, are much more reticent when it comes to spreading their faith. Overall, Hispanics participate in these activities at rates roughly comparable to those seen among members of the same religious traditions in the general population. Hispanic evangelicals, however, participate in prayer groups and share their faith with others at somewhat higher rates than do their non-Hispanic counterparts. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.