". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘Christ Defines Me’: Half of U.S. Latinos to Identify as Evangelical by 2030

April 7, 2024

Just as a seed comes to life where no one sees it, some of the most important developments in the kingdom of God occur out of the public eye. Demographic researchers now estimate that, “by 2030, half of U.S. Latinos will identify as Protestant evangelicals.” The trend might surprise a lot of “political pundits,” as FRC Action President Jody Hice suggested, but it certainly hasn’t surprised the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some demographers are quick to jump to the political implications of the rightward drift among Latinos, but as Christians, it’s important first to recognize, as Hice said: this is “great news for the kingdom of God.”

The label “Latino” applies not only to an ethnicity, a collection of nationalities, a demographic, or a potential voting bloc, it also applies to more than 60 million individuals residing in the United States. The trend that a growing percentage of Latinos identify as evangelical is really a composite way of reporting that thousands, perhaps even millions, of individual people made in God’s image are receiving salvation in Christ. Pastor Samuel Rodriguez confirmed on Thursday’s “Washington Watch” that “more and more [Latinos] are becoming evangelical every single day.”

Recent overuse by irresponsible or uninformed commentators has plunged the term “evangelical” into definitional confusion, but it still possesses a linguistic and historic meaning that allows us to use it coherently. “Evangel” derives from a Greek word for “good news,” from “eu-” (meaning “good”) and “angelos” (meaning “messenger”). (Yes, we call God’s servants “angels” because of their function as his messengers, see Hebrews 2:2, etc.) In other words, an evangelical Christian is simply one who holds the good news, or “gospel,” of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1) to be “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Paul summarized the content of that all-important message this way: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared” to followers who bore witness to these facts (1 Corinthians 15:3-5).

This is good news to anyone who knows himself to be a sinner, one who justly deserves death and the condemnation of a righteous God. Christ Jesus bore the punishment we deserved (he “died for our sins”) and freely offers salvation to all who believe. He proved that his sacrifice was effectual (that he wasn’t merely dying for his own sins) by rising from the dead never to die again. The facts that Jesus was buried in a tomb and then appeared to many people after his resurrection offer historical proof for these events. Christianity asserts that God himself really took on flesh, really died for our sins, and really rose from the dead, and that these facts should change everything about the way we live.

Evangelical Christians still hold to the basic truth of the gospel. The generation of eyewitnesses is long dead, but we can still read their testimony in the New Testament. We also read of God foretelling his plan of salvation in the Old Testament, as Paul repeated, “in accordance with the Scriptures.” Evangelical Christians care about Scripture because it is central to maintaining a proper understanding of the gospel.

According to Rodriguez, this appears to be the sort of evangelicalism Latinos are embracing: enlivened by the gospel, informed by the Scriptures, and applied to transform every aspect of our lives. In addition, presumably, to producing spiritual fruit, these evangelical converts are also changing the way they apply the command to love their neighbor at the voting booth. “As Latinos become more and more Protestant, more and more evangelical, they vote [their] conservative Christian worldview,” described Rodriguez.

Primarily, Latino evangelicals are growing increasingly distant from the political policy priorities of the anti-Christian, secular Left. “We don’t believe that government is God. Hence, socialism and communism are antithetical to our faith,” Rodriguez explained. “We believe in parental rights,” he said. “We are pro-life, pro religious liberty, committed to biblical justice.”

“Democrats seem to have convinced themselves at least that they can take the Latino vote for granted,” suggested Hice, “but they are now finding out that Latinos are much more grounded in biblical truth and values than was expected.”

This rightward shift has surprised pundits because it defies the logic of Marxist identity politics. “Latinos repudiate the progressive part of our electorate — the hard Left, the liberals — labeling Latinos as perpetual victims,” Rodriguez declared. “Christ defines me. I am not a perpetual victim, and I am alive on this planet to do the will of God. … I am not a perpetual victim.”

Rodriguez appealed to Romans 8:37 and Philippians 4:13 to argue against a victimhood mentality. “Because I am a Christian, I believe … I am more than a conqueror through Christ our Lord,” he insisted. “Because I am a Christian, I believe … I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Both verses are often lifted out of context, but both occur in the context of Christians undergoing trials, which makes Rodriguez’s use seem appropriate.

Rodriguez said Latinos’ shifting political engagement may be visible in the 2024 election in states like North Carolina, Nevada, and Arizona. “The Democratic Party is committing political suicide by alienating Latinos every single day, more and more, by advancing agendas that are antithetical to who we are and what we believe,” he said. He recommended political candidates “talk about faith, and family, and limited government, parental rights; you will win more Latino voters.”

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.