A recent report by Chile-based survey research firm Latinobarómetro shows that the election of Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, has not abated the defection of many Catholics in the region. Between 1995 and 2013 Catholic affiliation declined 13 percentage points from 80 percent to 67 percent. It’s not a stretch, then, to connect the growth of evangelicals in Latin America and among Latinos in the United States. Evangelical Christianity, particularly many of the Pentecostal denominations flourishing in Latin America today, arrived as missionaries from the U.S. moved to evangelize in the region. Likewise, some early Pentecostal leaders in the U.S. came from within the Latino community, who helped organize churches and their communities.
Hispanic Americans are a becoming a crucial demographic for both political parties. However, in recent elections, Hispanics have strongly preferred Democratic candidates. Juhem Navarro-Rivera identifies a significant problem facing the Republican party – that for many conservative activists minority outreach is not a priority – and what Republicans must do to gain the Hispanic vote in the 2016 presidential election and beyond.