Latin America is home to 40 percent of the world’s Catholic population, but a growing number of them are converting to other faiths.
A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 84 percent of Latin Americans were raised as Catholic but only 69 percent said they are currently members of the church.
Conversely, while only 9 percent of those surveyed said they were raised Protestant, today 19 percent of Latin Americans said they were Protestant.
“In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether,” the survey stated.
The overwhelming reason for leaving the Catholic faith, according to the survey, was a desire for “seeking a personal connection with God.”
Other reasons for leaving included outreach from other faiths, enjoying a new style of worship, and wanting a greater emphasis on morality.
The survey was conducted between October 2013 and February 2014 and queried residents of 18 countries as well as Puerto Rico.
Between 1,500 and 2,000 residents of each country were surveyed, with a margin of error ranging from plus or minus 2.8 to 4.0 percentage points.