An article at Worldcrunch, under the chipper headline “Nothing Can Stop The Spread Of Latin American Atheism,” points out that
There are currently 60 million Latin Americans who identify as atheist or agnostic, according to a November 2014 Pew Research Center poll. That’s 8% of all Latin Americans, though non-believers are more numerous in some countries in percentage terms: 11% in Argentina, 16% in Chile, 18% in the Dominican Republic, and 37% in the continent’s most secular country, Uruguay.
Other studies — in Chile, for example — suggest growing numbers of non-believers and shrinking numbers of Catholics.
Indeed, the declining number of Catholics is one factor that has helped non-believer growth in the past 15 years. In 1970, 92% of Latin Americans identified as Catholic. Pew’s poll shows this has fallen to 69%. While people may have been less honest in their declarations in 1970, the scandals of recent years, namely over child abuse and corruption in the Church, have no doubt driven some former Catholics to Protestant denominations or away from religion altogether.
Says Chilean author and political analyst Cristóbal Bellolio:
“I have the impression we are waking from a state of lethargy in matters like abortion, same-sex marriage and religious influence in schools.”
As for the popularity of the pope, an Argentinian,
“I don’t think Francis is enough to revert the decline of Catholicism in Latin America, but it could stop the bleeding,” Bellolio says.
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