So I did a google seach for why there are so few Hispanic atheist.

The search brought up an intresting yahoo page that was titled "I have seen many black and white atheist, but few Hispanic atheist,why?" The person who had the top posting on the webpage was a person who said, "Because Hispanic people have common sense." Well, after the slight aggravation subsided it really hit me how hard it was for me to meet people of my own ethnic background that had the same feelings toward a secular life. In my personal life I have been searching for similar like minded people in general and I have found a number of atheists and agnostics yet they all where either white, or black. I was raised roman catholic and I always imagine that most people in church are agnostic and just went to the mass for the idea of an obligation. Yet after talking to some I realized that they all have this idea that there is a presence that exist Inherently in the community of the church that may not be god but they find it as enough to worship their deity. I do not feel that most of the people I talk to know that there is a strong sensation of alienation when you are the only person in three towns that is from your heritage that is secular. I always loved being part of a greater whole. It is what fuels me to be a researcher in virology. Yet I feel a certain sensation of depression when I realize that my culture, has embraced these ideals so deeply that even those who do not believe are hard press to leave. I don't regret leaving. but it does strike up a storm of resentment towards what is in my opinion a beautiful culture.

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Comment by Danny Sanchez on March 9, 2012 at 5:03am

You found one here! 

I know how it is religion is such a central part of our culture that it is difficult to get away from. As far back as I can remember I have been skeptical of bible stories and its teaching but I had to get some separation from my own people before I could reject my religion and it took me moving across the country before I would become a full blown Atheist. Most of my friends these days are white and I get shit from the homies when I go home for the holidays and reunions but they kind of always gave me shit because I grew up with my nose in books and developed a better vocabulary. It has gotten better though I used to think I was the only one in my family but since I came out I discovered a few of my cousins were Agnostic/Atheist and one of my cousins is a hardcore militant Atheist.(He takes most of the heat because he doesn't know when to shut up sometimes) 

With the exception of a few of my religious fundamentalist relatives I suspect your hypothesis that many if not most are closet Agnostics but are wrapped in the traditions of the church. I'm a full blown out of the closet Atheist now and I still find myself in church every once in a while for a baptism, a wedding, a funeral, a quincinera, or a first communion. Before I came out I even baptized a few kids. I am the proud Padrino(Godfather) of two of my cousins boys and another cousins daughter. I don't think I'm being hypocritical attending these functions because I don't see them in a religious way but as another family celebration. Besides there is no way I'm going to pass up all that food and booze. It's not often my aunts and grandmother make Tamales. None of my relatives will let me baptize their children anymore but my godchildren love me and they brag to all their cousins that they have the coolest Nino. 

It's not easy being a Mexican Atheist but I'm proud of my beliefs and I'm proud of the people I came from. I am open and honest about who I am and I never let a moment pass when I can express myself and I don't allow my friends or relatives to bully me with their beliefs. This gets me in trouble sometimes with a family fight here and there but for the most part I respect the traditions and they respect me.

I got the love and respect of relatives that would outnumber the members of this community. What more could a Mexican Atheist ask for?

Comment by Denise W on March 9, 2012 at 9:32am

I think the population is larger than is plainly perceived, primarily because of the deeply-rooted religious traditions embedded in many Hispanic cultures. Using my dad as my closest example of cognitive dissonance (not to spotlight him, but because he's the closest example in my life) - his hobbies growing up were astronomy and physics. Hobbies...not life callings...but subjects he took interest in for *fun*. He left the Catholic church during his early adult years (now in his mid-80s), but never lost any belief in god. He transitioned to AG, then later to a non-denom. I remember being SO perplexed in conversations with him where he could discuss so many different scientific matters with ease and mental dexterity, but the moment the conversation shifted to anything of social interest (think women's health, public education, etc) - that amazing part of his mode of thinking just stopped as though a door slammed shut. To this day, on those matters, seemingly without even realizing consciously that he does it, he parrots Catholic language on those topics, even though he hasn't been a member of the Catholic church for more than half a century. Those principles were deeply embedded in him from early childhood - and they have never left, even though his views on certain matters of Catholicism shifted just as long ago.

For me, as an atheist, he is a prime example of why more Hispanic atheists *appear* to be invisible...not because they're not out there, but because the various cultures are steeped in religious ritualism, and appearances are extremely important. Part of my eventually becoming an atheist is traceable directly to my dad...because of the way he taught me how to think and critically question, except that I suspect that the two things I was to never question were either him (as my dad) or god/religious teachings (as my "heavenly" dad/representatives).  

Comment by John Siqueiros on March 9, 2012 at 11:07pm

You have another Hispanic Atheist here :D I wonder whether it's partly because my biggest namesake David Alfaro Siqueiros is also an atheist. (Hmmm. I just googled my last name and atheist to confirm this, and my postings here came to the top of the search list rather than posts about the muralist.)

But more seriously, I think some of this for Hispanic Americans is that when you are part of a minority group, you tend to hold dear your culture and heritage, and that includes Catholicism. But for me, I never felt compelled to be part of any group. As an example, in my youth living in Arizona, we elected the first Mexican-American governor in that state. This was supposed to be a source of pride for Latinos like me, but I could've cared less what his ethnicity was. Within a couple of years, that governor (Raul Castro) left office early under a cloud of suspected corruption. That confirmed my intuition about group loyalties.

Although it did take me awhile longer in life before I became a full-blown atheist, maybe because I found (and still find) a whole lot about Catholicism that makes sense (the Sermon on the Mount for example). I would still call myself a Cafeteria Catholic, although now, it would be sort of like a vegetarian going to a prime rib buffet.

Comment by javier on March 9, 2012 at 11:37pm

Thank you so much all of you guys! Danny, Valeria, Denise, and John with your stories I feel that I am truly not alone in this journey. Danny, I too am proud of the people I have come from. I have the love of my brothers in my family and that means so much to me. Valeria, I love what you are a proud atheist. I feel that there is a sense of self peace when you make the choice to follow your thoughts and not those of the people around you. Denise, I also had people in my family that help instill the wonder of the world and the beauty of understanding our universe through science. In many ways I still respect them for how far the have gone and in many ways I feel that I am evolving forward passing their fears and becoming truly in love with science as they wished they could have. John, I agree that as a smaller group of culture our background might become more important to our lives than most other backgrounds. There are some lessons that I feel I have taken from Catholism that have helped me grow, but I feel that I would have had those ideals anyways without the church.  That being said, I feel that to break those bonds of culture and become self confident of our own ideals have made each and everyone of us proud and fulfilled in our lives. I love that we all arrived in similar conclusions and that you all have shared so much with this thread. It really makes me smile deep down that there are people out there that share in some way the journey that I have taken. You guys made my night and my year. Thank you so much.

Comment by Denise W on March 9, 2012 at 11:52pm

Big love. Know that you are never alone. :-) <3

Comment by diggerbanks on March 10, 2012 at 5:26am

Nothing has a tighter grip on people's soul than a roman catholic upbringing.

Comment by Arcus on March 10, 2012 at 5:49am

My ex is an atheist Tica. She told me that growing up there was only one atheist in her class, his parents having been Red Army soldiers, and it was generally considered quite weird. I haven't spent much time in LatAm, but religion seems to be extremely deeply rooted. On the other hand, spaniards are quickly turning atheist (around 20%), so it's quite possible that hispanics will leave religion behind soon enough.


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