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In swing state Pennsylvania, a Latino-majority city is seizing the opportunity to influence the 2024 election – Longmont Times-Call

A parishioner prays at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, June 16, 2024. Reading is 67% Latino, according to U.S. census figures, and has a large population of people of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent — as well as Colombians and Mexicans who own restaurants and other businesses in town. (AP Photo/Luis Andres Henao)

By LUIS ANDRES HENAO, Associated Press

READING, Pennsylvania (AP) — In Reading, an old industrial town in one of the most crucial swing states in this year’s presidential election, religion and politics often intersect.

Pennsylvania has an early precedent for such occurrences. The state was originally a refuge for Quakers and other European religious minorities fleeing persecution. Among them were the parents of Daniel Boone, the national folk hero who was born just a few miles from Reading, a city where the Latino population is now the majority.

Today, the Catholic mayor is also an immigrant – and the first Latino to hold the office in Reading’s 276-year history. Mayor Eddie Moran is aware of the crucial role Pennsylvania could play in this election campaign, when a few thousand votes in communities like his could decide the future of the United States.

“With the growing Latino population and the influx of Latinos into cities like Reading, there is definitely an opportunity for the Latino electorate to change the outcome of an election,” Moran says. “That’s no longer a secret.”

A community of spirituality – and Latinos

In Reading, the sky is dotted with crosses on church towers, one after another. The pews of the Catholic church fill up on Sundays and many stand during the service. Elsewhere, often in nondescript buildings, Protestant and Pentecostal congregations gather to sing, pray and sometimes speak in tongues.

Outside, salsa, merengue and reggaeton music (often sung in Spanglish) blares from cars and houses along streets first laid out by William Penn’s sons—and which now serve a thriving downtown area with numerous restaurants proudly owned by Latinos.