May 282011

Mexico is still considered to be a Catholic country, but it is slowly becoming less Catholic. In the 2010 census 82.7% said they were Catholics compared to 88.0% in 2000 and 89.7% in 1990. In a recent report, Sociologist Roberto Blancarte, who specializes in research into religions, claims that for each day of the last decade, more than 1,000 Mexicans left the Catholic Church. He concludes that Catholicism is “destined to be abandoned” in Mexico.

Conversely, the percentage of the population who declared themselves non-Catholic went from 12.0% to 17.3% in 2010, almost a 50% increase.

The percentage of Protestants or Evangelicals increased to 9.7% in 2010 from 5.2% in 2000 and 4.9% in 1990. The proportion following “Other Religions” was 2.5% in 2010, 2.4% in 2000 and 1.5% in 1990. While the percentages in these latter two groups are rather low, Mexicans in non-Catholic religions tend to be far more religiously active than the majority of those who consider themselves Catholics. A total of 4.6% indicated that they had no religion in 2010, compared to 3.5% in 2000 and 3.2% in 1990.

Women tend to be more religious than men and more apt to have specified religions. About 5.5% of males indicated that they had “No Religion” compared to 3.9% for women. Women were a bit more likely to indicate they were Catholics (83.1% versus 82.3%) or Protestants or Evangelicals (10.2% versus 9.2%).

Western Mexico is still the most Catholic area of the country, though other religions are gaining converts. The state with the highest proportion of Catholics is Guanajuato with 93.8% followed closely by Zacatecas with 93.5%. Other states with over 90% Catholics are Querétaro, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Tlaxcala.

The least Catholic states are in Southern Mexico, led by Chiapas where only 57.8% are Catholic. Over 27% in Chiapas are Protestants or Evangelicals and 12% indicated that they had “No Religion.” Other states with under 65% Catholics include Campeche, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. The percentage Catholic in Oaxaca is just over 80% which seems surprisingly high given that Oaxaca is a southern state and has the largest proportion of indigenous-language speakers.

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The geography of Mexico’s religions is discussed in chapter 11 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask your library to purchase a copy today!

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