[quote="Julia_Mae, post:5, topic:311671"]
I was told that in Mexico the Church is a state-run operation and government supported, which is why it's often difficult to get new arrivals to understand the expectation to put something into the basket. Also, I was told there used to be no other religions in Mexico except a native practices, which is why newly arrived immigrants are so easily wooed in the US by Evangelicals, because they think any church is* the* Church.
I don't have a reference for this, however.
The Mexican government tried to BAN religion, and it is still technically illegal to practice religion outside of a Church building. The government does NOT run any church, and there are many other denominations besides Catholicism. My husband's very small village is Catholic. There is only one Church in the town. All roads tgat lead into the town have a large cross as you enter into the town's border to signify it is a Catholic town. There are Protestants that live in the town, but their churches are in other areas. Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Evangelical's and Pentecostals all have churches in one of the neighboring villages, Mormons, Jews, Baptists and Methodists have temples or churches in the larger town about 15 miles away. Several Protestant groups get together in people's houses in other towns as well.
As for the weddings, baptisms, first communion, quinceañeras, etc. yes it is cultural. Not all families have big parties (my husband's family is in that group), but most do. Some hold off on sacraments until they can afford the party but his family has never done that. It's similar to many families here in the US, people spending $5000 on a dress and $60,000 total on the wedding or buying a $300 baptismal gown and having a party/reception to follow. Other couples spend maybe $1000 total for the wedding or parents reusing a family gown for baptisms realizing it is about the sacrament and not about impressing other people with a big day. Nothing wring with a party, but the sacrament is supposed to take precedent over pride. Also, Mexican Catholics are often easily swayed because in many areas there is no real Cathechism classes. No such thing as faith formation. There is no Sunday school. If someone has no idea what they are supposed to believe, it is easy to convince them you know best.