LIFESTYLE

The Devil Goes ‘Diablo’: Study Shows Majority Of Latinos Believes In Spirits, Demons

ZAGAROLO, ITALY - UNDATED PHOTO:  (ITALY OUT)  Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo performs an exorcism to a faithful at the end of a mass in his villa in Zagarolo near Rome, Italy.  Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo  will celebrate the Mass November 21 in L'Abbazia di Casamari, near Frosinone, east of Rome, the Vatican said. The Zambian archbishop and exorcist, who scandalized the Catholic Church by getting married South Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung in a group ceremony led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon last year, has rejected the marriage after a request from Pope John Paul II.  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

ZAGAROLO, ITALY - UNDATED PHOTO: (ITALY OUT) Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo performs an exorcism to a faithful at the end of a mass in his villa in Zagarolo near Rome, Italy. Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo will celebrate the Mass November 21 in L'Abbazia di Casamari, near Frosinone, east of Rome, the Vatican said. The Zambian archbishop and exorcist, who scandalized the Catholic Church by getting married South Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung in a group ceremony led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon last year, has rejected the marriage after a request from Pope John Paul II. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)  (2002 Getty Images)

While many Latinos in the United States are leaving the Catholic Church in favor of Evangelical religions or none at all, that doesn’t mean they’re losing their spirituality.

A recent Pew Research study entitled “The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States” found that more than half of all U.S. Latinos (57 percent) believe people can be possessed by spirits, and 44 percent said magic, sorcery or witchcraft can influence people’s lives.

The study found that one in eight Hispanic Catholics in the U.S. have purportedly witnessed an exorcism and 37 percent of Latino Protestants say they have seen “the devil or evil spirits being driven out of a person.” 

One wonders, Is Satan racially profiling Latinos?

Around 39 percent of Hispanic Catholics believe in the so-called “evil eye” –  a malevolent look that could injure or bring misfortune to the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike – and 15 percent say they have had witchcraft or black magic practiced on them or someone close to them.

While percentages vary between different Latino groups, much of this belief in spirits is thought to be rooted on Afro-Caribbean religions like Santeria and Popular Catholicism practiced in parts of Mexico, which mixes indigenous and Christian creeds.

The Pew study, however, notes that Latino Catholics are not the only Christians who believe in this otherworldly form of spirituality.

“Hispanics who are Pentecostals are particularly likely to report having received a divine healing (64 percent) or a direct revelation from God (64 percent), to have witnessed the devil or spirits being driven out of a person (59 percent), and to say they have spoken in tongues (49 percent),” the study states.

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