Since my last column, America on January 22nd marked the sad 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion and resulted in the slaughter of more than 60 million unborn children. And, on that date, the Pew Research Center published analysis of its data suggesting that people’s opinions regarding the legality/illegality of abortion often differ from that of their denomination or religious group.
Pew’s analysis says that the majority of members of a particular group often hold their group’s official policy on abortion. For example, the majority of those in the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America say with their groups’ policies that in all or most cases abortion should be legal. On the other hand, the majority of those in the Assemblies of God, the Mormons, and the Southern Baptists say with their groups’ policies that in all or most cases abortion should be illegal.
However, significant numbers or a majority of those in other groups do not hold their group’s official policy on abortion. For example, the United Methodist Church supports legal abortion, a view taken by a narrow majority (58%) of its members. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (my church body) opposes legal abortion, a view reportedly taken by a narrower majority (51%) of its members. And, the Roman Catholic Church and more recently also the African Methodist Episcopal Church similarly oppose legal abortion, but minorities of their members take that view (47% and 30%, respectively). One can only wonder about the public confessions of all the groups and their individual members (Romans 10:9-10)!
Our church body opposes legal abortion because of both what the Bible teaches (for example, Psalm 139:13-16; Exodus 20:13) and how the Church has always understood the Bible. We call abortion the sin that it is and try to defend those who cannot defend themselves, but we also proclaim and effect God’s forgiveness for the sake of Jesus to all those who repent of any sin (for example, Romans 5:8).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.