More Latinos in US Leaving Catholic Church for Islam

A growing segment of the Latino population in the United States are leaving Christianity for Islam. About 8% of all Muslim Americans adults are Latino, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, increasing by about a third from 2011.

In interviews, Latino converts said they are drawn to Islam because of the intense devotion to God, a simplicity in faith and focus on community that they failed to find in their former faith. But their conversion often is not easy, as they break ties with family and their Christian upbringing.

They are also choosing the faith at a time when Latinos and Muslims alike feel targeted by US President Donald Trump's rhetoric and his increasingly restrictive immigration policies for both groups. Reports of hate crimes are on the rise.

About 94 percent of Latino Muslims cited the desire for a more direct, personal experience of God as a reason for converting, in a survey of 560 converts reported in the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in 2017.

They are part of a religious shift for Latino Americans. Just under half — 47% — describe themselves as Catholic, down from 57% a decade ago, according to a Pew survey released last month. The share of Latino Protestants has remained steady at about a quarter of the total.

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