As a newcomer to DLG Media and as a non-Christian Hispanic I would like to contribute to DLG’s mission to talk about multiculturalism by highlighting Hispanics who are vocally and boldly non-Christian.
I think it’s critically important that we as Hispanic individuals acknowledge and celebrate the surprising diversity of religious beliefs and in many cases the lack of religious beliefs that exists within Hispanic communities both in and out of the United States. It’s easy to say that not all Hispanics people are Christian but it’s another thing altogether to try and actually learn about Hispanic non-Christians which is why I want to make it a bit easier for anyone interested in learning about religious beliefs among Hispanic people who are non-Christian by connecting any interested readers with fascinating leaders among Hispanic non-Christians.
Dr Juhem Navarro-Rivera:
Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera is a friend of mine who writes over at The LatiNone, a blog about secularism, race, and politics. He is a talented political scientist who writes at Demos and his current research focus is on the impact of big money in politics. His education began in the University Of Puerto Rico’s Rio Pedras with a B.A. in Political Science. He continued his education at the University of Connecticut where he would earn his M.A. and his Ph.D. in Political Science.
Dr. Navarro-Rivera is like me in the sense that he is a Hispanic nonbeliever who studies and writes primarily about other Hispanic nonbelievers rather than Hispanics who are non-Christian but still believers. His blog is incredibly fascinating and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about Hispanic nonbelievers and Hispanics in politics. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook.
Ashley Perez is a Spanish and Portuguese Jewish man who serves as the head of Reconectar, an organization that seeks to reconnect the descendants of Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula and were forcibly converted during the Spanish Inquisition with Judaism.
Perez is a Sephardic Jew (Jews who are descended from Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal), who is working day in and day out to reach out to individuals who are descended from Jews who faced persecution during the Spanish Inquisition, some of whom were publicly forcibly converted and kept their Jewish beliefs a secret, and now want to reconnect with their Jewish roots and heritage. The mission of Reconectar is to provide the descendants of Jews in Spain, Portugal, and Latin-America with the necessary tools to understand what their heritage means and to make it possible for them to openly display their beliefs.
Ashley contributes pieces to The Times Of Israel talking about Latin-American and Hispanic Jews in addition to Jews in Spain and Portugal.
Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher:
A Colombian Muslim who was born in Colombia and moved to Houston, Texas at the age of 8, Jaime “Mujahid” Fletcher is the leader of Islam In Spanish. This group of Latin-American Muslims and allies seeks to educate Latin-Americans about Islam.
Jaime is a stunningly talented individual who according to Islam In Spanish’s website is an international public speaker, a leadership coach, and graduate of the Art Institute of Houston specializing in Multimedia and film. He works to educate Latin-Americans about Islam and also to normalize the perception of Islam and Muslims in the United States.
A Peruvian atheist who contributed a chapter to Karen Garst’s book “Women Beyond Belief”. Mrs. Reyes’s chapter is fairly short but is a fantastic read. In it Reyes establishes herself as a talented storyteller who analyizes life in Peru with a clear eye talking about how Peru’s Christianity rarely becomes extreme or fundamentalist, and how in Peru there’s an extent to which disagreeing with Catholicism is normal. Reading another Latin-American perspective, particularly one like my own, as a Latin-American born in one country who moved to another (well, in my case multiple different countries) was refreshing in a book about life without beliefs and made the whole book something I could relate more easily too.
Her analysis of life in Latin-America as an atheist is equally hopeful and frustrated, as her seeing a growing number of skeptics in Latin-America motivates her even though she feels frustrated seeing children being indoctrinated into beliefs many of them aren’t mature enough to truly comprehend. Her inclusion in the book makes a fantastic book truly unforgettable.
Unfortunately finding a picture or video of Matilde’s was something I could not do as she is fairly out of the spotlight, despite her remarkable writing prowess. It is my hope that in the future she’ll become even more of a voice in the Peruvian skeptical community and become someone whose name is fairly well known.
Eva Quinones is the president of the Humanistas Seculares De Puerto Rico, one of the groups for nonbelievers in Puerto-Rico. She received a good portion of her education in a Catholic school in Guaynado, obtaining a medal of religion in her graduation in 1984, despite her having stopped believing two or three years before this occurred.
Her past work as an organizer is extensive and she began as an online moderator in skeptical forums. She joined the Humanistas Seculares De Puerto Rico in 2011, which was the same year she attended Reasoncon, a convention for skeptics in Washington DC hosted by American Atheists. She was the main organizer of the regional convention of American Atheists in Puerto Rico in 2015.
Connect with her organization on Facebook.
In this specific video Eva’s interview begins at 42:00 minutes in, but the entire video features a unique perspective on Latin-American skepticism given that one of the hosts is David Tamayo who is the president and founder of the Hispanic American Freethinkers.
Venerable Sayadaw U Nandisena:
An Argentinean Buddhist who received his ordination in Boulder Creek California’s Taungpulu Kaya Aye Monastery. He is associated with the Instituto de Estudios Buddhistas Hispano, the Hispanic Buddhist Studies Institute. He is the abbot of the Dhamma Vihara, a Buddhist monastery in Mexico.
Why Should We Celebrate Non-Christian Hispanic leaders?
We should celebrate non-Christian Hispanic leaders because diversity is worth celebrating. We should celebrate non-Christian Hispanic leaders because they take great risks in being vocal and public individuals who are not Christian in Latin-America and in Hispanic communities in the United States. Non-Christian leaders in our communities can and do face prejudice, regardless of whatever beliefs they have that are non-Christian. These individuals deserve positive acknowledgement and celebration because they do real work as educators, leaders, and communicators.
Non-Christian Latin-Americans deserve to be acknowledged by the media of the United States and our own countries. And even though we often aren’t acknowledged by media outlets we continue to work hard and to make it easier for us to be accepted. Our struggles are similar and we should communicate with each other, but for now I’ll be happy with this positive acknowledge of many hard working leaders who believe in a lot of different things and are working hard each and everyday to create opportunities for ourselves and for our fellow Hispanic non-Christians.