01: Latinos are continuing their movement out of the Catholic Church for Protestant denominations and other religions, though they tend to retain a “Catholic ethos” on moral issues, according to a new survey.
The 3-year survey of 2,300 Latinos, conducted by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, finds that Only 18 percent of first-generation Latinos identify themselves as Protestants, compared with 33 percent for the third generation, reports Religion Today.com (May 8). On the whole, 70 percent of the 35 million Latinos in the United States are Catholic and 22 percent are Protestant, the poll found. Ten percent of Latinos identify themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, with those groups counted as Protestant.
New immigrants from Latin America have replenished the gradual Latino exodus from the Catholic Church, the study’s directors added.
But new Protestants, however, tend to retain their cultural Catholic ethos, keeping their church-inspired views on such moral issues as the death penalty and abortion, and their liberal stances on immigration and party affiliation.
“They’re comfortable with both the empty cross — a sign of Protestantism — and the icon of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Latinos, Protestant and Catholic, share a common moral, political and economic world view,” said Dr. Gaston Espinosa, project manager for the study. Other findings included: 51 percent of non-Catholics consider themselves evangelical Christians; 43 percent attend Spanish-language church services; 60 percent support school vouchers; and 39 percent favor the death penalty, reflecting the Catholic Church’s stance against capital punishment. Gallup polls indicate that 67 percent of the U.S. population as a whole favors the death penalty.
02: Even if artists are not religious in the conventional sense, they tend to carry the discipline of their work to a similar sense of discipline in their spirituality, according to a recent study of 100 artists by sociologist Robert Wuthnow.
Initiatives (May), a Catholic newsletter on the connection between faith and work, reports that in his new study, entitled “Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist,” (University of California Press), Wuthnow finds that artists, writers and musicians are far from the stereotypical “confused, gullible or muddleheaded” souls, but they are “to a striking degree” more comfortable with spirituality than organized religion.”
By training and personality, they are “disposed to think that spirituality should not be reduced too readily to doctrines and creeds.” The newsletter concludes that while “art critics and religious leaders miss the spiritual in today’s artists. Wuthnow is convinced that art once again is having a major influence on people’s spiritual lives.”
The Dallas Morning News (May 29) reports on another study which shows that American Christians who attend church once a week and conservative religious people are far more likely than other Americans to believe that art’s purpose is to portray beauty. The co-editors of the book from which the study is found, “Crossroads: Art and Religion in American Life,” (The New Press) conclude that the amount of conflict between art and religion has been overplayed.
(Initiatives, P.O. Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629; http://www.laity-initiatives.org)
03: Although criticized by some as an elitist institution, the American press has given a mix response to President Bush’s faith-based social service program, reflecting the opinions of the American public, according to a recent survey.
Although some conservatives predicted a negative response to government funding of faith-based social services by the media, the survey, conducted by the magazine Religion in the News (Spring), found almost 70 percent of editorials published in 51 newspapers approved or had mixed reactions to Bush’s plans. Only about 30 percent registered moderate or strong disapproval.
These percentages correspond closely to poll results on American attitudes toward government funding of faith-based groups, writes Dennis Hoover. A diverse group of big city newspapers, not all of them conservative, were represented in the moderate approval camp, while one out of four of them veered toward the negative side (including the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle).
(Religion in the News, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford, CT 06106; http://www..trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/)
04: A study of mixed marriages shows that most of these couples celebrate Christmas, according to the Jerusalem Post (May 3).
The study, conducted by the American Jewish Committee of 127 American interfaith families, found that 16 percent of Jewish-Christian marriages celebrate Christmas in church and more than two-thirds observe Christmas in their homes. Jews and non-Jews termed Jewish activities “religious” or “different” while Christian activities, such as Christmas, were called “just cultural” and “fun.”
The study, authored by Sylvia Barack Fishman of Brandeis University, suggests that children who have parental encouragement to marry within the faith are much more likely to do so than those whose parents have no opinion on the issue.