The following comes from a Cuenca High Life article by Michael Paulson:
A sweeping new survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, finds that 69 percent of Latin American adults say they are Catholic, down from an estimated 90 percent for much of the 20th century. The decline appears to have accelerated recently: Eight-four percent of those surveyed said they were raised Catholic, meaning there has been a 15-percentage-point drop-off in one generation.
The findings are not a total surprise — it has been evident for some time that evangelical, and particularly Pentecostal, churches are growing in Latin America, generally at the expense of Catholicism. But the Pew study, which was conducted by in-person interviews with 30,000 adults in 18 countries and Puerto Rico, provides significant evidence for the trend, and shows that it is both broad and rapid.
Latin America “in most people’s minds is synonymous with Catholicism, but the strong association has eroded,” said Neha Sahgal, a senior researcher at Pew. “And it’s a consistent trend across the region — it’s not just a Central American phenomenon.”
Latin America remains home to an estimated 40 percent of the planet’s Catholic population. But the survey finds that 19 percent of Latin Americans now describe themselves as Protestants. And Protestant churches in Latin America are filled with former Catholics — in Colombia, 84 percent of Protestants say they were baptized as Catholics.
Latin Americans who converted from Catholicism to Protestantism most often said they did so because they were seeking a more personal connection with God.
The change has political and religious implications. According to the survey, Protestants in Latin America are more religious and more conservative than Catholics: The Protestants pray more, go to services more often and are more likely to tithe. They are also more strongly opposed to same-sex marriage.
The decline in Latin American Catholics has parallels in the United States, where significant numbers of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic residents were raised Catholic but have left the church. But in the United States, 18 percent of American Hispanics say they are religiously unaffiliated, compared with 8 percent of Latin Americans.