THE MEXICAN SOCIAL CONTEXT
Mexico is a country of about 130 million people. In reality, there are many different Mexicos, due not only to the many regional differences but differences with regard to language, food, religion, education, and socio-economic background. Like most places in the world, Mexico is becoming more urban, with the majority of the population now living in cities like Mexico City, which has over 20 million people in the metropolitan area. Life in rural areas has become increasingly difficult, so that many people there now feel they have no choice but to emigrate either to the cities or to the U.S. in order to survive. In the southeast part of the country, in states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero, there is a very large indigenous population.
The socio-economic contrasts are striking. According to Forbes magazine, several years ago, the richest man in the world was a Mexican, Carlos Slim, who remains among the top ten richest individuals on the Forbes list. At the same time, poverty remains a serious problem: according to CONEVAL, a government agency, the percentage of Mexicans living in poverty is 43.6%, and those living in extreme poverty represent 7.6% of the population.
THE MEXICAN RELIGIOUS CONTEXT
According to the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, around 85% of the population is Roman Catholic, though only about 10-15% attend church regularly. The Roman Catholic faith in Mexico has traditionally been heavily influenced by indigenous beliefs and practices that predate the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. The most important religious figure is the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose basilica is in northern Mexico City. I have prepared several picture presentations on Mexican customs for Christmas and Holy Week. You may find them at the bottom of this page.
Up until the late 19th century, Protestant churches were banned from Mexico. When they were finally allowed to enter, among the first churches to begin work were the Anglicans, Methodists, and Presbyterians. Although Lutherans worked in English and German in Mexico after Protestants were allowed into the country, work in Spanish did not begin until 1940. The number of Lutherans in Mexico is small, less than 10,000 (including those of European descent living in Mexico), and has not changed much in past decades. The same is true of the other historical Protestant churches in Mexico, whose membership has varied little.
In recent years, Evangelical churches have grown tremendously throughout Mexico. They represent a wide variety of denominations and beliefs, including Pentecostal, neo-Pentecostal, and independent Christian churches. The vast majority of these churches are not the fruit of foreign mission efforts but are of Mexican origin. For many reasons, these churches will no doubt continue to grow in Mexico as they have throughout other countries of Latin America, where Evangelicals have come to outnumber Roman Catholics in some areas. For more on this, see the following link:
Many Mexicans also follow traditional indigenous beliefs and practices, though it is quite common to combine these with Roman Catholicism. For example, the worship of La Santa Muerte, or «Holy Death,» has grown rapidly in recent years. For more on this, see the article «Santa Muerte» on Wikipedia.com by CLICKING HERE.