Jen at Conversion Diary does an annual post to see what the religious climate is like where her readers live, and she is especially interested to hear from those of us living outside the US, so here's my 2 cents' worth:
1. WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
2. WHAT IS CHURCH ATTENDANCE LIKE? ARE THERE MANY CHURCHES?
I live in a small town of 5000 or so. The main church is, of course, Catholic. There are two other options here: a pentecostal (Four-Square) church pastored by a Mexican, which meets on the grounds of the local children's home, which he runs (maybe 100 people involved?), and a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses (this is quite small - maybe 20 or 30 people). In addition to the main church on the plaza, our parish has chapels in each of the neighborhoods in town (5 in all) and mass is held at each of them each week as well. Masses at both our main church and the chapels are generally completely packed. All ages attend.
3. HOW APPROPRIATE WOULD IT BE FOR A PERSON TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HE OR SHE IS A BELIEVING CHRISTIAN IN CASUAL CONVERSATION?
Very easy, since a large portion of the population here is active in the Catholic Church, and even those who aren't are "friends of the Church" (not dismissive as so many are in the States). This would apply to any community here in the state of Baja California Sur - the proportion of active Catholics is high, and the rest (except the gringos) are culturally Catholic, so disposed toward the Church.
4. WHAT KIND OF FAITH DO THE POLITICIANS CLAIM TO PRACTICE?
Christianity - Catholic, of course!
5. HOW COMMON WOULD IT BE TO SEE A FAMILY WITH MORE THAN THREE KIDS? WHAT ARE THE ATTITUDES TOWARD FAMILY SIZE?
Many - maybe most - of our friends over 40 years of age come from really large families. My closest friend down here is one of 17 siblings, and there are many with 6 or more siblings. However, that generation tends to have 3 or 4 children per family. The generation currently having children? It's hard to tell, although I can tell you that there are many more babies and young children in this population than in similar sized groups in the US - MANY more.
6. WHAT WAS THE DOMINANT BELIEF SYSTEM IN YOUR AREA 50 YEARS AGO? WHAT IS IT NOW?
Fifty years ago in our part of Mexico everyone was Catholic. Now only about 90% are. However, the understanding of the faith is much better now - there's not the mixture of Catholicism with other things that was so common back then. Our bishop is a former seminary rector and has done a heroic job of elevating the quality of catechism in the diocese, not only for children, but for everyone. Priests have a wealth of teaching material that the diocese provides, and they themselves are much more educated than priests had the opportunity to be 50 years ago. That was still a period of repression of the Church in Mexico: priests weren't allowed to wear cassocks in public (or even to vote) until 1998, and the Church was still struggling to rebuild after the Crucero war of the 1920's. At that point in our state's history there was only ONE priest to service the whole territory, which is about the size of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut combined. All the other priests had been killed by the atheistic government or had been exiled. Now our state has a little over 100 priests to serve a diocese of over 500,000. Poco a poquito....
7. DO THE PEOPLE WHERE YOU LIVE SEEM HAPPY WITH THEIR LIVES?
Yes, Mexicans aren't as bombarded by the materialist consumer message as residents of the US are, and they have a much stronger family orientation as well, which of course is a major factor in happiness.
This was taken this weekend during the festival of our patroness, Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar).
Click on this link to see what the religious climate is like in other areas.