The De-Catholicization of Latin America

By Emanuel Pietrobon

In 2014, according to Pew Research Center, about 69% of Latin America’s population identified as Catholic, in comparison with 92% in 1969. During the same period, the share of Evangelicals grew from 4% to 19%, a growth rate three times larger than the world’s population growth. Within the last decade, Roman Catholicism’s influence has decreased and is no longer followed by the majority of the population in countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Uruguay. This trend is due to the increase of new Christian denominations and irreligiosity, and is being recorded all over Latin America, which may no longer be a Catholic majority by 2030.

Several factors pushed people to abandon Catholicism and to embrace other denominations or atheism such as sexual and accounting scandals involving the clergy, involvement with military dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s, the crisis of the Catholic welfare model based on supplying public goods and services to villages and slums, secularization processes, and the energetic campaign of proselytism through social and political activism of Evangelical Churches.

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