Every once in a while…
You will hear someone make a comment about Latinos in Latin America.
And that comment is sometimes based on a stereotype about them that this person has somehow come to believe.
One of those stereotypes that I have heard every once in a blue moon when I’m back in the US is that Latin America is not a very friendly place to non-Catholics.
Now, I’m not sure where this came from – but there does seem to be a belief among some that all Latinos are die-hard Catholics who take a strong bias against other groups – Muslims, Atheists, etc.
Or just non Christians in general, I suppose.
Well, there’s some smoke behind this fire but it’s not really all that true.
Let’s break it down one by one what I mean.
How Religiously Catholic are Latinos?
I’ve already covered this topic in this article here…
And wrote here also about some of the more religious folks you find down here preaching in the street.
But I will summarize my thoughts and experiences very briefly here as it relates to this article.
First, yes – Latinos are more often Catholic than any other belief system.
However, there is plenty of diversity here also – other religious groups.
Evangelics, some Muslims, Agnostics, etc.
Having said that, are Latinos more often than not very religious with their faith?
Well, as shown in this article I wrote, it depends on the country.
Some countries like Guatemala have more religiously active people than places like Uruguay or Chile.
As not all of Latin America is the same.
Also, speaking as a young person who often hangs out with other young people are my age range (those below 35 typically) and as someone who has spent 99% of his time in big cities…
I’d say most Latinos I have personally met are not very religious at all – more Catholic in name but not as much in practice.
At least relative to what some folks suspect about Latinos – that they are all die hard Catholics who can’t stop thinking about Jesus.
It’s really not like that in my experience.
But, in my experience, people from older generations can, sometimes, come across as a little more religious than younger folks in my age range.
So let’s get to that.
Especially in terms of what it is like being an atheist specifically in Latin America.
Being an Atheist in Latin America
First, it should be said I don’t go around obviously announcing what I believe or don’t believe in.
So it’s not like I got some big red letter A tattooed on my forehead.
But in my experience, as you can imagine, people in big cities like Mexico City or Buenos Aires tend to be more accepting of differences.
Though it is easier to find religious diehards in those cities also simply because of population numbers and there would obviously be more of them there.
Not on a per capita basis but just in general.
Like said in this article here – stop by a major touristy area of one of those cities and you might see some dude screeching about how Jesus will burn the gays.
But on a per capita basis, most folks are more tolerant in those cities from experience.
Relative to a small town in Guatemala maybe…
So as said before, experiences vary by what part of Latin America you are in specifically.
Next, I have sometimes talked with the occasional religious person who has approached me in public about Jesus.
They usually are passing out pamphlets and the like.
Sometimes I tell them I am an atheist if they ask about my beliefs – other days I don’t feel like it.
It doesn’t happen often though but sometimes, once in a blue moon, you will get asked.
Of all the times I have said that, I’ve never had anyone screech in my face about how I’m going to hell.
I did have one older overweight woman though give me a “oh lord have mercy, Satan is in front of me” look before stumbling away with her pamphlets.
Other than that, I’ve found the few other folks I have mentioned that to were respectful.
No nasty looks or bad words – sometimes they even sit down and want to talk about it respectfully.
Which is only annoying if you wanted to sit down outside in peace without talking to anyone but otherwise, it’s fine.
Outside of that….
I’ve also had experiences talking about it with the families of chicks I have dated before down here.
“Are You Catholic?”
Out of all the experiences in relation to being an atheist down here…
This is probably going to be your more awkward experience – at least from what I have come to know.
When her family asks if you are religious or not or what do you believe.
When it comes to the actual girl you are dating yourself, I’ve never encountered one who had an issue with it.
Though I have met the occasional woman here and there who seems to take religion very seriously.
But even that is rare – most Latinos I have met – easily 80% to 90% -- don’t seem to take it very seriously in life.
Not because I look for that – I don’t – it just happens to be the case and what has been my impression.
Now when it comes to her family…
I have told a few chicks about it down here and they tend to get worried about it that will blow over with their family like half the time.
In large part because their family might be very religious but she isn’t.
For example, I had a Colombian girlfriend who was concerned about me mentioning that to her family.
She was even, at one point, bringing up the idea of marriage with me and wanted it to be at a church.
And she eventually accepted the idea that it didn’t have to be at a church because I didn’t prefer that.
But when it came to her family, she was insistent that I tell them I was Catholic.
This was many years ago and I agreed to go with it.
So I don’t know how they would have reacted.
Then I can think of two Mexican chicks – one I dated for a very brief period – and another who lasted a year with me.
At this point in life, I’m not going to bullshit the family – if they can’t accept it, tough.
But I think, in the long run if I was to marry a Latina, it would be bad all around to pretend to be something I’m not just to appease the family.
“What?!? You don’t believe in Dumbledore?!!? How dare you!!”
But in regards to those two Mexican chicks…
One named Daniela whose family was cool about it – they were more of an urban type of family. Upper class.
I’ve always had the suspicion that upper class urban families down here would be more accepting of that than rural ones from humble backgrounds.
That’s been my impression as rural folks down here tend to take religion much more seriously.
And in Daniela’s case, I was right.
Then there is another Mexican chick whose parents were less accepting of it.
More the mom though as she was a bit more of the rural judgmental type while the dad was more tolerant in general.
Her brother though – don’t even get me started – that’s another story all together when that guy got access to her Facebook and read our messages…
And saw all the sexual chat we had and lost his fucking mind when he realized we had sex.
Probably got angry also because he would have seen pictures sent by her of her naked ass, tits, pussy, etc. to me.
But that’s a story for another day – a funny and long one but let’s not ramble about it just yet…
Either way, I know other Mexican chicks I have told the atheist thing about and like I said before…
Half of them were cool with it and didn’t think the family would have issue.
The other half were worried about the family’s reaction.
So that brings us to…
I think the main points of this article can be summarized as the following (and they are pretty obvious, I think).
- Not all Latinos are diehard Catholics who can’t stop thinking of Jesus
- Almost all of the young urban Latinos (and I mostly hang out with Latinos) do not give a shit about it and don’t seem very religious in practice in my experience.
- Rural and older types can tend to be more religious.
- Though cities are more religious, you will find more screeching preachers there because of numbers.
- Latinos in some countries like Uruguay can be more accepting than ones from Guatemala on average. Read more here on that.
- Your mileage will vary on mentioning you are atheist to the girl’s family. Most will accept it perfectly or will not like it but tolerate it and probably some won’t approve whatsoever.
Anyway, that’s been my experience anyway!
Got any experiences yourself about this topic?
Drop them below in the comment section.
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