Coming Full Circle? Evangélicos in the United States and Latin America

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.

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