In 2014, the Pew Research Center conducted a study on the Religious Landscape of America and found some surprising trends in people’s views on abortion.
The study asked adults if they think abortion should be legal, illegal or if they weren’t sure. According to their data, 53 percent of Americans think it should be legal, 43 percent think it should be illegal, while 4 percent don’t know. Compared to 2007, the last time the study was conducted, the number of people who think it should be legal are up 2 percentage points, while those in opposition are up 1 percent, and the group who was unsure has decreased by 2 percent. In other words, a good number of people made up their mind about abortion in those seven years between the studies.
The study then went a step further by asking the people surveyed about their religious affiliation. The results reveal some surprising trends. We’ve included the highlights here:
Groups whose majority of members believe abortion should be illegal
Jehovah’s Witness (75 percent of members)
Mormon (70 percent)
Evangelical Protestant (63 percent)
Groups whose majority of members believe abortion should be legal
Jewish (83 percent of members)
Buddhist (82 percent)
Unaffiliated/“nones” (73 percent)
Hindu (68 percent)
Mainline Protestant (60 percent)
Muslim (55 percent)
Orthodox Christians (53 percent)
Catholic (48 percent)*
*A special note should be taken of Catholics, who weighed in at 48 percent thinking abortion should be legal, while 47 percent disagree and 5 percent weren’t sure.
These numbers are a little surprising if you are to take a look at what the official stances of different religious groups and denominations are, which is what one Pew Research article did.
Special discussion was given to the United Methodist Church, which made headlines in May when they repealed a resolution supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973. The church’s Book of Discipline (outlining the denomination’s law and doctrine) still maintains that abortion should be available in some cases. However, at its convention in May, the church approved another resolution to pull their membership from a pro-abortion advocacy group it helped to start 43 years ago.
It’s interesting to note how a church’s official stance on an issue doesn’t always trickle down to the views of its members. How have you seen this phenomenon play out in your own church?