Hispanics setting aside denominational differences to work on issues


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. Hispanics are setting aside denominational differences to work together on issues such as hunger and immigration, panelists said at a June 15 forum during the annual gathering in Washington of Bread for the World, the anti-hunger lobby.

"We probably have 50 million Hispanic Americans, not counting the undocumented," according to the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference.

But those numbers have not translated into the power to make change to benefit all Hispanics, he said, and the denominational divide among them has been a major issue.

The Rev. Juan Martinez, director of the Hispanic church studies department at Fuller Theological Seminary in Atlanta, called it "theologies of suspicion."

"We have been taught not to trust each other. We were taught not to trust the Catholics. They were taught not to trust us," said Rev. Martinez, a member of the Church of the Brethren.

"We weren't even sure they believed in Jesus."

But the continued poverty among Hispanics living in the United States, combined with an awareness of the conditions that cause Hispanics to leave their native countries for a better life in the U.S., has led some Hispanic religious leaders to set aside theological differences to work more closely together.