May 13, 2022 Editor

The Pro-Choice Religious Community Could Be a Force to Be Reckoned With

WN: Hopeful signs. I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. I am a follower of Jesus.


The Roman Catholic Church, by far the largest Christian group in the U.S., is institutionally opposed to abortion in all instances, but, as Pew reported this year, 55 percent of rank-and-file Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, joined by 64 percent of Black Protestants and 63 percent of non-evangelical white Protestants. Pew data also reveal significant pro-choice minorities among Mormons and white evangelicals.

The core of support in the organized religious community are mainline Protestant denominations, notably The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, along with most of organized Judaism. There are also deeply considered pro-choice theological traditions within all of major world religious traditions present in the United States, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Like Catholics, 55 percent of Muslims in the United States support access to abortion in all or most cases. Taken together, these religious traditions have vast resources, institutional capacity, historic and central roles in many towns and cities and cadres of well-educated leaders at every level.

These historic pro-choice religious institutions bring a tradition of democratic governance, and a broad respect for the values of religious pluralism, equality and separation of church and state—the constellation of values that comprise what we have called religious freedom.

There are also pro-choice religious groups focused on advocacy, education and access to services. These include the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for Choice, Just Texas and the National Council of Jewish Women.

A movement of the pro-choice religious community would bring fresh religious, cultural and political visions, organizations, and actions into politics and culture at a time when we surely need it. That the pro-choice religious community is under-recognized, under-resourced, under-reported on and under-organized is both the challenge and the opportunity.

The Christian right’s approach to the long game of electoral power politics has resulted in a shrinking minority led by white evangelical Protestants exercising electoral power disproportionate to their numbers. According to data compiled by Public Religion Research Institute, from 2006 to 2018, the white evangelical Protestant share of the national vote increased from 23 percent to a steady 26 percent, even while its share of the population declined from 23 percent to 15 percent. The political implications are clear: While the Christian right and the anti-abortion movement leads, it could be dethroned.

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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