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Religious Change in Mexico: Perspectives from Recent Data

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According to the 2000 Mexican Census, change to non-Catholic religions has actually slowed at the national level in Mexico, and the evidence appears to suggest that the efforts of the Catholic Church to stem the loss of followers to Protestant Pentecostal groups has had a certain amount of success in retaining believers. However, when scrutinized more closely, these results are open to a more varied interpretation. There remain important regional and social differences in the distribution of religious affiliation in the country, and predominately indigenous communities are still converting to non-Catholic religions at a strong rate. This is especially true in the southern state of Chiapas where Catholics are now a minority in various municípios (municipalities) with indigenous-majority populations. In this article, I consider what these differences mean and how they can be explained within the context of religious change in Mexico. Le recensement de la population mexicaine de l'année 2000 indique que le taux de conversion vers des religions non-catholiques a ralenti au niveau national, et les chiffres semblent indiquer que les efforts de l'église catholique pour endiguer la perte de croyants en faveur des églises pentecôtistes ont eu un certain effet. Toutefois, si on les regarde de plus près, ces résultats peuvent donner lieu à des interprétations plus variées et nuancées. Il reste en effet des différences régionales et sociales importantes dans la distribution des affiliations religieuses dans le pays, et des communautés principalement indigènes continuent à se convertir aux religions non-catholiques à un rythme élevé. Ceci est particulièrement vrai dans les états du sud du Chiapas où les catholiques sont devenus minoritaires dans différentes municipalités à population majoritairement indigène. Cet article considère la signification de ces différences et s'attache à les expliquer dans un contexte de transformation religieuse au Mexique.


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