Protestantism in Mexico
Protestants and Evangelicals are two of the most numerous religious associations in Mexico after the Roman Catholic majority. In Mexico, there are many denominations from virtually all doctrinal backgrounds, the largest are: Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostals and a group of unaffiliated non-denominational charismatic congregations. In the census, some of these congregations and their followers are grouped as "Neo-Charismatic", others are grouped as "Evangelicals".
The charismatic movement in Mexico has been growing in the last few years[when?], particularly in the Southern state of Chiapas, where the National Presbyterian Church in Mexico is the strongest denomination (46% of the total Presbyterian population of Mexico).
By 2010, those who declare themselves Catholics represent 83.9 percent of the population aged 5 and older, evangelical Protestants or 7.6 percent, and other religions 2.5 percent and 4.6 percent reported having no religion.
The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reported that the number of evangelicals or Protestants rose from 4.9% in 1990 to 5.2% in 2000, to reach 7.6% em 2010.
A main category of the Protestant churches in Mexico are the so-called Historical denominations, which include the following churches: Presbyterian (and other Calvinistic groups), Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational and Anglican (or Episcopalian). These constitute the 10% of the Protestant/Evangelical category. After these branches, we have the "Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal" segment, which constitutes about 22% of the non-Catholic category. With a 39% we have "Other evangelical" members, a group called "Light of the World" (based in the city of Guadalajara) makes 1%, and finally the "Non-Evangelical Biblical" categorization makes up for the remaining 28% of this figure.
Protestants/Evangelicals have had a respectful and often peaceful relationship with their overwhelming Catholic atmosphere. Some exceptions of intolerance are sadly common in indigenous communities in the State of Mexico and the southern state of Chiapas (the state with the greatest percentage of Protestants nationwide). Despite of their long-time status of minority, Mexican Protestants interact normally with the rest of Mexico.
Because of historical reasons (the laic character of Mexico which in theory does not intend to favor any religion) and contrary to many countries, Mexican Protestants do not have many institutions such as day care centers, schools, universities, labor unions, political parties and hospitals. This forces Evangelicals to interact with the rest of society using the same services and attending to the same educational institutions. With the exception of Bible-based moral standards, Mexican Protestants are not alienated from the dominant culture around them and are used to be well acquainted with non-Protestant people. They often enjoy popular soccer games, TV shows and usually celebrate holidays as everyone else.
Regardless of regional variations, Protestants, often known simply as "Christians" in Mexico are becoming more relevant to the Catholic majority as many of these churches continue to grow greatly because many born-again Christians were once Catholics and converted later in life to this form of Christianity. Subsequently, they tend to share their new spiritual experiences to their Catholic relatives and neighbors, inciting curiosity because their life-changing testimony often ushers a new stage in their lives (frequently asceticism) which changes their worldview and their personal behavior. Christians often invite people to their churches, which sometimes leads to further spiritual encounter and revivals. This is when more people become born-again Christians.
Regions and identity shift
The fact that more and more Mexicans no longer describe or define themselves as Catholic is a very significant issue. This tells us about a society that tends to diversify into other paths regarding religious adherence. Nevertheless, the proportion or magnitude of this shift varies greatly and it is not the same throughout the country.
As a generalized interpretation, we could say that Protestants have grown to be a very relevant minority in Southern Mexico and to a lesser though significant percentage in Northern Mexico, especially in border states. Places where Protestantism has not become such a big minority are the West and the central parts (known as the Bajío), which is known as a very Catholic region. The following chart shows us the variations of religious affiliation of the Mexican population by state and doctrine to which inhabitants older than 5 adhere:
|State||Population||% Catholic||% Evang./Protestant||% Non-Eveng Biblical||% Atheist||% Other||% Unspecified|
|Baja California Sur||372,466||89.61||3.68||2.05||0.19||3.33||1.14|
|San Luis Potosí||2,011,828||91.53||4.95||1.01||0.17||1.82||0.52|
|State of México||11,611,426||91.26||3.78||1.58||0.87||1.94||0.57|
- Martinez Garcia, Carlos (January 16, 2009), Cifras del protestantismo en Chiapas (Statistic figures of Protestantism in the State of Chiapas) (in Spanish), ProtestanteDigital.com, retrieved September 3, 2010
- "Grafica 2" (in Spanish). Retrieved September 3, 2010.
- "'Distribución (%) de la población mexicana según su religión, por entidad federativa'" (in Spanish). Retrieved September 3, 2010.