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Religion in Mexico declining – INEGI

by Yucatan Times
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In 2020, despite the pandemic, the national census was conducted, as every 10 years. In this new registry released on Monday, January 25th, by INEGI, we see particularly interesting data regarding Mexican cities and their inhabitants. Among these interesting data, today we know that there are 126 million 14 thousand 24 inhabitants in Mexico. This represented an increase of 13 million 677 thousand 486 people, in relation to the 2010 Census. This population growth is the lowest since 1910 when a 0.5 percent drop was recorded.

Today we know “officially” how many Catholics are there in the country, the percentage of the population, and the decrease in the number of the faithful.

Let’s look at the behavior based on the numbers. At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1900, 99.1% of the population was Catholic, and by 1910, at the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, the percentage remained the same.

In 1930 it fell to 97.7%, but in 1950 it was 98.2%, with less than 1 percent growth. In 1970 it was 96.2%, and from that decade on, the percentage of Catholics as a percentage of the total population began to fall steadily. Catholics in 1990 were 89.7% of the population; in 2000, 87.9%, and by 2010, 82.7%. In 110 years, a reduction of 16 percentage points.

Although despite these historical decreases, the traditional Mexican family is Catholic and its absolute numbers. The country is still the second nation in the world with the most Catholics, only after Brazil, which is the first.

We can understand these figures in two ways: 

1. That the number of Mexicans who call themselves Catholics, even if they are not practicing, is still very high. 
2. That there is a downward trend as can be seen in the historical data. Just to give an example of this, from 1990 to 2010, the loss of Catholics was 6.7%.

In comparison with the history of previous censuses, it can be seen that the fall does not stop. Catholicism is ceasing to be attractive to an increasing number of Mexicans.

Today, 10 million 211 thousand 52 people say they have no religion. This represents 8.1 percent of Mexico’s population. This figure almost doubled concerning the census of 10 years ago, when this percentage was 4.7 percent. Meanwhile, people without a religious affiliation, but believers, reached 3 million 103 thousand 464 in 2020, while there was no record in 2010. 

In summary, the percentage of Catholics in the country dropped from 82.7 percent in 2010 to 77.7 percent in 2020, 97 million 864 thousand 218 people who claim to be Catholics.

We can also observe new classifications. Protestants/Christian-evangelicals number is 14,95,307, or 11.2 percent of Mexicans, increasing 3.7 percentage points over the previous census.

Judaism follows this religion with 58,876 followers and the “newest” religion in Mexico, Islam, with 7,982 people.

The reduction of Catholics is more accelerated in the south-southeast of Mexico, followed by the north, with Baja California, Tamaulipas, and Chihuahua. The highest percentages of Catholics are in the center of the country. 

Understanding the data.
The data show that belonging to an institutional religion decreases by leaps and bounds, especially noticeable in the Catholic Church. However, the other Christian churches of Protestant origin are suffering the same fate.

Yet, we have to consider that the decline in the institutional practice of religion does not necessarily go hand in hand with spiritual pursuits, and I would even go so far as to say that the opposite is true. While historical or traditional religions are experiencing a severe loss of followers, there are more and more people who confess to be “believers without religion.” That is people who build a life around the spiritual outside of religious traditions.

Why are people moving away from religion in Mexico?
There are many reasons. However, I will list those that are tangible and have been proven, with quantitative and qualitative studies and research methodologies. 

1. The “old-fashioned” moral postures for the new generations. This category includes controversial issues such as abortion and/or homosexual marriage. 

2. The distance of religious leaders from their followers. 

3. A substantial loss of cultural relevance of the religious tradition whose values were part of society’s cultural assumptions and were accepted even by non-believers. We now live in a loss of common culture.

4. An enormous fragmentation of visions and a developed cultural and ethical relativism permeates the religious aspect. At this point, let us consider that religion exercised a sort of “moral compass” in the past. This has changed. 

5. Faith without religion” or the deinstitutionalization of religion. A distancing of the spiritual from the institutional. People decide to live their beliefs without necessarily being part of a religious institution or doctrines. Everyone believes as they see fit. In this context, we can cite religious indifference within the family. We can observe that new generations are growing up in a secularized context without too many references to religion and dispensing with it, with a significant break with tradition. God is not fought against. It simply does not matter.

This trend that puts religion aside will continue in the times to come. 

For Times Media Mexico
José E. Urioste Palomeque
Merida Yucatan, Mexico
January 26, 2021

José E. Urioste is a businessman and professional in “Business Intelligence” and “Research and Development.” He began his studies in Merida Yucatan and later continued in the United States. He worked in different media groups where he specialized in statistics. Jose Urioste has contributed to newspapers, magazines, and various media outlets on various topics ranging from professional to editorial.

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