Latinos in the U.S. Have a Strong Belief in the Spirit World

Michael Lipka, Pew Research, May 15, 2014

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While we do not have data on how many Americans overall believe in the presence of spirits, a recent Pew Research survey found widespread belief in this among Latinos in the United States. More than half (57%) said that people can be possessed by spirits, and 44% said magic, sorcery or witchcraft can influence people’s lives.

In our survey, about one-in-eight Hispanic Catholics in the U.S. (12%) said they have witnessed an exorcism. Even more Hispanic Protestants (37%)–including 59% of Pentecostals–said they have seen “the devil or evil spirits being driven out of a person.”

Varying percentages of U.S. Hispanics also hold other spiritual beliefs, which in some cases may reflect a mix of Christian and indigenous or Afro-Caribbean influences.

Roughly four-in-ten U.S. Hispanics (39%), including a similar share of Hispanic Catholics, said they believe in the “evil eye,” or that certain people can cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen. A smaller share (15%) said they have had witchcraft or black magic practiced on them or someone close to them.

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