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God in the Barrio?: The Determinants of Religiosity and Civic Engagement among Latinos in the United States

  • Sarah Allen Gershon (a1), Adrian D. Pantoja (a2) and J. Benjamin Taylor (a3)
Abstract

It is often assumed that Latinos in the United States are deeply religious, and that this religious identity plays an important role in shaping their political beliefs and behaviors. A more controversial though unexplored proposition is that Latinos may not be as religious as is commonly believed and that forces beyond their religiosity play more prominent roles in shaping their political engagement. Relying on data from the 2006 Latino National Survey, we examine secularism — measured by church attendance — and civic engagement among Latinos. Our efforts are to analyze the social forces that shape levels of religiosity and find that generational status plays a significant role. Additionally, we further find that while church attendance declines among later generations, second and third generation Latinos have higher levels of civic engagement than their first generation peers, indicating that a decline in church participation does not depress political participation among later generations of Latinos.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sarah Allen Gershon, Department of Political Science, Georgia State University, Suite 1014, Langdale Hall, 38 Peachtree Center Ave, Atlanta, GA 30303. E-mail: sgershon@gsu.edu; Adrian D. Pantoja, Department of Political Studies, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA. E-mail: adrian_pantoja@pitzer.edu; J. Benjamin Taylor, Department of History, Political Science & Public Policy, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA. E-mail: j.b.taylor@mcla.edu
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