A massive survey on the political leanings of Catholic ethnic groups in the United States has revealed a great divide between the beliefs of two of the largest demographics: white (non-Hispanic) Catholics, and Latino Catholics.

The survey of 2,600 individuals, carried out by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, both in Washington, DC, reveals that the two groups are profoundly split on a number of issues that will be of great importance to the 2016 election.

The Catholic News Service reports that “38 percent of those in the Catholic Church self-identify as Hispanic and 54 percent of the national Catholic population self-identifies as white, non-Hispanic, making them the two largest ethnic and racial groups in the U.S. Catholic Church.”

Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, told the CNS that the two groups are “in different universes.” They form a fairly clear political divide between liberal and conservative values. Furthermore, as Dan Cox, PRRI’s research director, noted, “when it comes to views about immigrants and certain immigration policies, the views of white Catholics are much more closely aligned with white evangelical Protestants than Latino Catholics.”

As reported by the CNS:

  • More than three-quarters, or 77 percent, of Hispanic Catholics favor allowing immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally an opportunity to become citizens, compared to 55 percent of white Catholics.
  • A majority of white Catholics (64 percent) said American culture and way of life has changed for the worse since 1950s, while 62 percent of Latino Catholics say American culture has changed for the better since the 1950s.
  • A majority of white Catholics (68 percent) said they are bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English, compared to 17 percent of Latino Catholics who answered the same question.
  • A majority (51 percent) of white Catholics favor construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico, while 26 percent of Latino Catholics favor the same.
  • A majority (52 percent) of white Catholics support a temporary ban on Muslims from other countries from entering the United States, while 25 percent of Latino Catholics support such a ban.
  • No religious group expresses more apprehension about terrorism than Hispanic Catholics, with 70 percent, or 7 in 10 of Hispanic Catholics, saying “they feel at least somewhat worried about terrorism affecting them or their family,” compared to 54 percent of white Catholics.

The article also noted that the majority beliefs among white Catholics regarding the construction of a wall between the US and Mexico and a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants were largely contrary to the views publically expressed by Pope Francis, U.S. bishops and members of the clergy.

White and Latino Catholics are split on a range of issues that will impact the 2016 election.iStockPhoto