The Way We Worship: Why Latinos Are Leaving the Catholic Church

Mostly we are moving to Protestant Christian denominations (20 percent of us), but we’re also shifting away from organized religion entirely—at least 14 percent of us now say we are “unaffiliated,” or don’t belong to any organized church.

The reasons are complex, but converts like Colombian American Loren Suliveres say they feel evangelical Protestant churches offer them a “more profound and intimate connection to God.”

As a child in New York and Colombia, Suliveres was raised Catholic—like everyone else she knew—attending religious schools and looking out at night on the statue of la Virgen in her backyard. But, like 75 percent of U.S. Catholics, her family did not attend Mass every week. By college, she felt empty, and started questioning her faith. After a stint as a Mormon, Suliveres, now 30, joined an Apostolic church, a Pentecostal Christian denomination, where she attends services at least once a week.

When she was a Catholic, Suliveres felt the religion was too much about rituals, with “big flashy capes, crowned men and the Vatican.” As a “born-again” Christian, she reads the Bible and prays with her husband daily. In her church, the pastors seem more like her: Latinos, young and from the city.