Forum Examines Latino Secularism


Do Latinos equate “no religion” with secularism?  Is there a secular tradition among Latinos?  These were among a host of questions and related issues addressed by a panel of scholars during a March 7 colloquium presented by the Trinity-affiliated Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC). Held in the Terrace Rooms in Mather Hall, “Are U.S. Latino Society & Culture Undergoing Secularization?” began with a presentation of key findings from the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) by ISSSC Associate Director Ariela Keysar.

The ARIS/PARAL report was the result of a unique collaborative effort between the social scientists of the Program for the Analysis of Religion Among Latinos/as (PARAL) and ISSSC Director Barry Kosmin and Keysar, who in early 2001 carried out the survey. The goal of the project was to provide a comprehensive social-scientific understanding of the religious lives and worldviews of more than 35 million persons of Hispanic heritage in the United States.

The explosive growth of the Latino population in the United States would seem to be a boon for American churches, and most of them have, in fact, been strengthened by increasing numbers of Latino adherents. The 2001 ARIS/PARAL report, however, suggests a weakness of Latino ties to religious institutions. The distinguished speakers tackled this issue as well as questions about whether the ARIS findings reflect the experience of local Latino communities in Hartford and New England.

In addition to Keysar and Kosmin, participants included Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo of Brooklyn College, Efrain Agosto of the Hartford Seminary, Carleen R. Basler of Amherst College, and José E. Cruz of the State University of New York, Albany.

Established in 2005, the mission of the ISSSC is to advance understanding of the role of secular values and the process of secularization in contemporary society and culture. It serves as a forum for civic education and debate through lectures, seminars, and conferences. Made possible by the generous support of the Posen Foundation of Lucerne, Switzerland, the institute is part of the College's Program on Public Values, an initiative designed to foster a comprehensive understanding of some of the central issues and ideas of the contemporary world. 

For further information about the ISSSC, please go to

back to top

Return to eQuad table of contents