It's not enough that Latinos are primed to "take over" California, the United States and America's institutions of higher learning by the sheer growth of their numbers, now they're threatening to take over evangelical Protestant churches. Sort of.
My earlier blogs have noted that Hispanics have become the largest ethnic minority group in the nation and that by next year, we will outnumber California's Anglo population for the first time in history. Well, add to that a report by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church and becoming the new majority in Protestant churches too.
My mother would be shocked, shocked! at the news-not that we are growing in numbers, but that Hispanics are becoming Protestants. As far as she was concerned, Latinos could be the largest majority in the entire world and she wouldn't care-as long as they were Catholics. Abandonment of the Mother Church, however, would never be acceptable. "Wait," she would warn, "until the pope hears about this!"
Time magazine, which reported on the secular shift in a recent cover story, cites as proof of the movement that Christianity Today, America's leading evangelical magazine, announced that next year it would also be printed in Spanish. What next, the New York Times in Uzbek?
Related: Keeping the Faith: Only 41 percent of U.S. Hispanics are practicing Catholics (Poll) - En Español
All of this does not mean that a future pope might change the official language of the church from Latin to Spanish, or that Pope Francis would have a Protestant minister standing by his side co-blessing the multitudes in Vatican Square. It just means that those Hispanics who are "moving across the street" probably just find Protestant churches more to their liking. It could be a moment of convenience rather than a statement of rejection.
It hasn't been an easy time for Catholicism, but having survived many storms in the ecclesiastical seas for going on two thousand years, chances are it will continue to exist.
You can relax, Mom. The pope is safe and the papacy sails on.
Al Martinez, Pultizer Prize-winning journalist, author and recently annointed "Bard of L.A.," brings humor, wisdom and a sometimes quirky, perspective on life to his weekly AARP blog. The former Los Angeles Times columnist riffs about aging, current events, who he is, who we are and everything else. At 82, he's got more than a few things to say.
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