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

That’s exactly what happened for Adriana Villavicencio, an Ecuadorean American education researcher who grew up extremely religious in Los Angeles. Her father was a pastor, and she attended Lutheran schools, church youth groups and missionary trips as a teenager. But in college at Columbia University, after meeting Orthodox Jewish, Muslim and Hindu friends and studying their beliefs, her views began to change.

Today Villavicencio, 34, calls herself “spiritual, but I don’t practice one particular religion. I believe in a higher power...and I believe there are many different expressions of that belief.” Together with her fiancé, who attended Catholic school and was raised with different religions, she attends a variety of churches, prays at home and meditates. Her focus, she says, is not so much on which religion she belongs to, but how she lives her life and treats others.

“As Latinos, our culture remains deeply important and as natural as breathing, but we aren’t as insular as our parents and grandparents. Perhaps this is part of our immigration story,” Villavicencio says, “the evolution of our faith from one generation to the other.”