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Christian America? Understanding the Link between Churches, Attitudes, and “Being American” among Latino Immigrants

  • J. Benjamin Taylor (a1), Sarah Allen Gershon (a2) and Adrian D. Pantoja (a3)


In recent decades, Evangelical churches in the United States have expanded their outreach to Latino immigrants, seeking to incorporate these new Americans into their churches. We investigate the implications of this movement by examining the impact of church affiliation on Latino immigrants’ conceptions of what it means to be “fully American.” Relying on the 2006 Latino National Survey, we find that church affiliation significantly impacts immigrants’ beliefs about what it means to “be American” in the eyes of other Americans and the likelihood of identifying themselves as “American.” Specifically, Protestant Latinos (be they mainline or Evangelical) are more likely than Catholic Latinos (the majority of Latinos) to identify as American and to believe that Americans think being a Christian is a defining feature of American identity. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: J. Benjamin Taylor, Department of History, Political Science & Public Policy, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01247. E-mail:; or Sarah Allen Gershon, Department of Political Science, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302. E-mail:; or Adrian D. Pantoja, Department of Political Studies, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA 91711. E-mail:


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