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Religious Identity among Latinos

In her article “Two Nations Under God?” found in the collection Latinos Remaking America (available online to those with Trinity library privileges), Peggy Levitt discusses the enormous impact Latinos have had on U.S. Christian churches and on religious identity. She delineates specific changes the Latino presence has effected with the church, among them a greater role for women and lay leadership, a movement toward Americanization with an ethnic focus (segmented assimilation), transnational institutional networking, adopting rituals more accessible to their followers including the practice of imported Christian traditions such as street processions, and a connection to liberation theology’s deep concern for social justice.

Manuel Vasquez in his interview with Krista Tippet on her NPR show “Speaking of Faith”also discusses how immigration is changing the face of American religion. Latino Migrations: The Changing Face of Religion in the Americas is a show dedicated to a discussion of his book called Globalizing the Sacred: Religion Across the Americas. Vasquez demonstrates how religion can help immigrants navigate change and adapt to a new culture while simultaneously maintaining identities strongly tied to their birth culture.

Both Levitt and Vasquez discuss the church as a site of social citizenship for those who cannot yet speak the host language, are not yet political citizens, or who have no other vehicles for representation and cultural participation. These immigrants maintain connections to home communities and parishes, and the result is a transnational religious network. Vasquez traces Pentecostalism’s birth in Los Angeles, to its migration to Mexico and then all of Latin America, and its indigenization there, and its eventual return to the U.S. newly transformed.

Students of HISP 280 went out into the religious community of Hartford to inquire as to how Latinos in the city are transforming Christianity today, and if and how they participate in transnational networks.

Jeff and Andres’s essay “La religión y la globalización: re-imaginando la identidad”

Griha and Yuki’s essay “La religión y su rol social y político en Hartford”

Krystyna and Natasha’s essay “La religiosidad en Hartford”

How do you see religiosity among Latinos in Hartford? Are religious practices here hybrid or transnational? Do you see connections to Vasquez’ talk online, or Peggy Levitt’s work? Feel free to comment below.

You can also read an except of Levitt’s book God Needs no Passport:Immigrants and the Changing Religious Landscape of 2007 in the Harvard Divinity School’s Bulletin of Fall 2006.

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