Latinos tend to vote for Democrats and support the party's platform on many political, economic, and immigration issues, but a clear majority do not adhere to its positions on moral, religious, and church-state issues.

Indeed, according to the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life (HCAPL) study, most Latinos support traditionally conservative Republican issues like prayer in school, school vouchers, and the charitable choice initiatives.

HCAPL project manager Gaston Espinosa says in the study's summary (Spanish) that most Latino evangelicals, Pentecostals, and Roman Catholic charismatics are opposed to abortion and homosexuality but otherwise identify more strongly with less conservative political platforms than do white evangelicals.

"Latinos are more likely to vote along the lines of African Americans than Anglo-Americans, even when this means going against the grain of their own larger Anglo-American theological tradition," Espinosa states.

The Pew Charitable Trusts-funded study found that 49 percent of Latinos identified as Democrat and 14 percent as Republican in the fall of 2000. A surprising 37 percent of Latinos identified themselves as politically independent. With more than 8 million Hispanic voters estimated in the United States, those independents represent the potential for volatile swings in the Latino vote.

Still, many Latinos support moral agenda items more associated with Republicans than with Democrats.

Overall, fully 70 percent of Latinos support prayer in school (69 percent Catholic and 80 percent "Protestant and other Christian"). The study found 60 percent of Latinos support school vouchers, vs. 66 percent of white evangelicals, 54 percent of white mainline Protestants, 64 percent of blacks, 63 percent ...

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