Where Do Different Churches Stand on Abortion? Pew Research Answers

abortion
Pro-life vs pro-choice female right on abortion concept

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.

The article breaks major religious groups into four categories, which you can review in this image:
Major religious groups' positions on abortion

Special discussion was given to the United Methodist Church, which made headlines in May when they repealed a resolution supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973.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?

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Megan Briggs
Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.