Posted on April 5, 2023

Percentage of Latino Catholics Eclipses White Evangelicals in Southwest

Russell Contreras, Axios, March 30, 2023

Hispanic Catholics in 2022 accounted for the largest percentage of people who identify with a religion in the American Southwest, surpassing the share of white evangelicals in the region, according to a survey released last month.

The big picture: Latino Catholics have also eclipsed white mainline Protestants in California, New Mexico and Texas.

  • In the Southwest, they still find themselves underrepresented in positions of power as white evangelicals have politically dominated the region for decades.
  • Hispanic Catholics’ rise comes despite an overall drop in religious affiliation among all Americans, and a growing number of Latinos who convert to evangelical faiths {snip}

By the numbers: Hispanic Catholics accounted for more than 20% of all people with a religious affiliation in California, New Mexico and Texas in 2022, according to the Public Religion Research Institute’s annual American Values Atlas.

  • In Arizona, Hispanic Catholics (12%) made up a bigger percentage than white evangelicals (10%) but a slightly smaller share than white mainline Protestants (13%).
  • Evangelical Protestants are generally more loosely organized and lean more conservative than many mainline Protestants {snip}


Between the lines: A large portion of Hispanic Catholics are under 18, are not U.S. citizens and can’t vote, which contributes to their lack of political power despite growing numbers.


Yes, but: New Mexico, where 23% of residents are Hispanic Catholics, is the exception. Hispanics, many of whom are Catholic, hold almost all statewide offices, and a majority of the state’s congressional delegation identifies as Hispanic and Catholic.