Changing Hispanic Family Values

Two weeks before the 2012 election, President Barack Obama stated that “a big reason” he would win a second term in office is because of the Hispanic-American vote.

And Hispanics delivered. The Hispanic-American vote accounted for ten percent of the vote in 2012, and seventy five percent voted to re-elect President Obama. At the same time, given that the large majority of Hispanics identify with the Catholic faith, at minimum due to their cultural heritage, the Catholic vote did not reflect an awareness of the threat to their faith posed by the current administration. It is clear that the Catholic Church in the United States must increase its catechetical and evangelization efforts among Hispanics, and speak the fullness of the truth to them.

The Democrats were able to persuade Hispanics that only their political party can give them what they want, which most assume is a relaxation of U.S. immigration policies. Certainly the Republican Party will be re-examining their policies on immigration, and in fact began doing so right after the election, but Hispanics care more than just about immigration.

The question of whether Hispanic Catholics firmly hold to the Church’s moral teachings on life and family values deserves serious attention. It would seem to be the case that they don’t because they overwhelmingly voted for the most radical anti-faith, anti-life, and anti-family presidential administration in the history of this country. What’s needed is a better approach to communicating these issues with our brothers and sisters.

Hispanic Catholics have not made, or refuse to make, the connection that supporting the re-election of the current administration gravely endangers the survival of those values they love and the society in which they now live with their children, their extended families, and their friends. The current platform of the Democratic Party is firmly and explicitly committed to almost every aspect of the modern culture of death – contraception, abortion, the redefinition of marriage, embryonic stem cell research, etc. – all of which are condemned by the Church that many Hispanics call their own.

Yet, there is a factor that has not been clearly taken into account. Hispanics are emigrating from countries in Latin America that are often led by socialistic, or at least far-left, political parties. In those countries, the Catholic Church is also fighting to preserve faith, life, and family values, as well as its voice in the public square.

Hispanics therefore see little difference between these socialist ideologies and the increasingly difficult conditions found in their new country, or the urgency in addressing the problems. It is probable that this could be one of the reasons why they do not react to the alarm concerning the future of religious liberty raised by the Catholic Church in the United States.

Regarding the Catholic faith, there is a difference between the Latin American countries and the United States. Latin American nations have a Catholic cultural foundation, but the United States does not have, as its foundation, a Catholic culture. So it takes more effort and commitment to live as a Catholic in the United States, and to retain Catholic values. Hispanics come to this country with a Catholic cultural identity which they may or may not realize is at risk.

Hispanics of course immigrate to the United States in search of greater opportunities and a better standard of living. Yet in May 2012 the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders reported  that the unemployment level among Hispanics rose from 20.6% to 26.6%, and the poverty level among Hispanic children rose from 27.4% to 36.3%, all during the first term of the Obama administration.

And these percentage rates are likely to increase during a second term as the Obama administration’s policies become more established and businesses realize that their ability to flourish is threatened.

During the next four years, the Obama administration will seek to retain Hispanic-American support. The more we see of the administration’s HHS mandates, however, the more Hispanics will see that their values are not represented by the man for whom they cast their vote.

This is what Hispanic Catholics must understand. Unencumbered by the need to reach out to voters in another campaign, the Obama administration will not need to mitigate its aggressive push for secularism, amoral sex education, same-sex adoption and “marriage,” abortion, and euthanasia.

But since most Hispanic families send their children to public schools, it is not certain that they will be able to ensure that their children retain their traditional values. In addition, given the likelihood of further economic downturn, parents will spend more time at their jobs, and thus, less time together as a family. The American Dream is increasingly out of reach even for those who have been here for generations, and Hispanics may soon learn that the risks they took to come to the “Land of Opportunity” were not worth the rewards.

Hispanics must be told that life in the United States of America has never been about renouncing fundamental values in order to obtain earthly goods. As we fight for the common good of our country, we must let our Hispanic brothers and sisters know that we need them to stand with us in the fight.

Marlene Gillette-Ibern, Esq. is an attorney from Puerto Rico. She serves as the assistant and legal counsel for Vida Humana Internacional, the Hispanic branch of Human Life International.
Articles by Marlene:


  • Abi Olvera

    It is because Hispanics don’t become obsessed with just one aspect of the Catholic Church’s teaching. Like the Catholic church’s promotion of slavery, the contraception debate is hindering progress. If your organization really cared about the lives it saves with its pro-life stance, it would not be against contraception. This just shows a desire for an imposition of your values on those who do not agree.

    We are supposed to help the sick and the poor. Hispanics feel closer to this idea of the Bible, rather than a fear secularism and sexual education. It is this secularism which allows Hispanics to practice comfortably a religion not mainstream.

    So no, it is not because “Hispanics therefore see little difference between these socialist ideologies” and this country.

    You are on the wrong side of history Marlene.

  • Abolitionista

    Abi, It’s not a matter of obsession. Church teaching is not like politics – it is never changing. Remember the commandment given by God in the Old Testament, “Thou shalt not kill.”

    • Abi Olvera

      So slavery is still okay? The church used to teach slavery was okay, and that colonizing blacks and other “lesser beings” was okay. That didn’t change?

    • Abi Olvera

      I’m glad you bring the timeless ten commandments, which we should remember are all of equal magnitude. I hope you are also keeping the Sabbath day holy, with it explicitly saying that you nor your servants nor anyone working for you shall not work. If you have a heart attack on a Sunday, you wouldn’t expect to make a doctor work. God loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer from misanalysis of his words. Think critically.

  • Abolitionista

    Abi, One more thing — the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “The poor you will always have with you.” Matthew 26:11

    • Abi Olvera

      Proverbs 14:31
      He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

      We can debate about this all day. My generation and I construe the Bible, God, and Jesus as the source of love and wisdom that promotes tolerance not hate, that promotes helping the poor. You can select Bible verses that tell you it’s okay to leave the poor how they are and you can vote accordingly. You can help the cause of altruistic Christianity, or you can keep being like the people who defended God-given slavery, afraid of diverging from the institutions that use the word of God to keep the status quo and suffering.

    • Abi Olvera

      Zechariah 7:10
      Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’

      Proverbs 19:17
      He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

      Proverbs 21:13
      If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

      Proverbs 29:7
      The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

      Matthew 25:37-40
      “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    • Abi Olvera

      Also, you forgot the rest of that verse:
      “Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had leprosy. During supper, a woman came in with a beautiful jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. ‘What a waste of money,’ they said. ‘She could have sold it for a fortune and given the money to the poor.’

      But Jesus replied, ‘Why berate her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be talked about in her memory.'”–Matthew 26:11

      So Jesus and His followers are dining at Simon the ex-leper’s house, when out of the blue this strange woman comes up and starts pouring top-quality perfume over Jesus’ head. The disciples, once again, don’t understand what’s going on, so they say she could have sold the perfume and given that money to the poor. And that’s when Jesus says, “You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer.”

      Jesus isn’t rebuking the disciples for wanting to help the poor, but because they didn’t understand that Jesus was about to die.

      As the book of Ecclesiastes says, there is a time and place for everything. And I think this passages in Matthew 26 is trying to say there is a time to go out and serve the poor, and then there’s a time to spend it with Jesus–especially at that particular moment when He was about to be arrested.

      It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the first place the Bible says we will always have poor people. According to Deuteronomy 15:11, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” So perhaps Jesus was referring to this verse when he told the disciples, “You will always have the poor among you.”

      Quote from’s TMAMONE.