New Research Study Concludes that Churches Aren’t Talking About Abortion

Brenna Lewis - 04 May 2020

There is no canonical argument for a Christian to support abortion. Across all denominations, there is a general concept of all human beings created in God’s image and that is so from the moment of conception. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” is a common Bible verse quoted in support of Life. The good news is, most Christians live out a life-affirming doctrine when it comes to abortion.

For the abortion-supporting Christian (or non-Christian, for that matter), what is commonly found is a misplaced compassion. For the mother facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are two “solutions” for her: carry her child to term, or terminate her child. Everyone cares about women – our solutions and what we deem compassionate just differ.

The pro-life advocate offers help, resources, and whatever else the mother needs to embrace her child and overcome the reasons she would consider abortion. The pro-choice advocate offers a ride to Planned Parenthood and an assurance that her choice is the feminist, empowering thing to do. For most Christians, the former is the compassionate solution for both parties involved (mother & child).

However, a new Pew research study found that only 4% of sermons posted online during the spring of 2019 mentioned abortion. The study analyzed over 6,000 Christian (including Catholic) churches in the U.S. and included over 50,000 individual sermons. Some numbers are hard to digest – and this is certainly one of them.

Anecdotally, most ardent pro-lifers will express disappointment at a lack of focus on abortion as an issue at their home church. So, anecdotally, the pro-life movement knew it was a problem. But, add this disturbing 4% statistic to the fact that about half of women seeking abortions are regular church-goers AND that Catholic & Christian schools have become increasingly hostile places for Students for Life groups in the past few years… and a very unpleasant picture comes together.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. The Pew article made some other disheartening points:

  • The study revealed that when pastors do discuss it, the topic is rarely repeated and Church leaders are almost unanimous in their opposition to it.
  • The study showed that abortion was rarely the focus of the entire sermon, with researchers segmenting out the percentage of words dedicated to abortion during the entire sermon.
  • Only 1 percent of all sermons across the whole database discuss abortion in more than one segment (250 words).
  • The most recent comprehensive data from Pew in 2019 revealed that 56 percent of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in most cases, compared to 61 percent of the general public.

So, the people who are supposed to be the strongest voices against abortion (religious Americans, including religious leaders) are statistically pretty quiet on the issue. One would think, with 947 preborn children killed every single day by Planned Parenthood alone, that this massive human rights travesty might merit a bit more attention. Which, in anticipation of likely criticism, doesn’t mean other social issues are not also worthy of attention. But rather that, in terms of scope, the proportions don’t seem appropriate. Abortion is “big” enough to deserve its own movement & a place at the pulpit.

If half of the women who have abortions each year are church-goers, that means hundreds of thousands of religious women each year aren’t being told that their faith community supports them in choosing life. Or that actual help is available to them. Or even that God has a plan for every “unplanned” child. It also means that post-abortive congregants aren’t being helped to find a path to healing, instead letting them suffer in silence. And it’s making active pro-life advocates feel isolated and unsupported.

And most of all, it’s brushing millions of innocent lives lost under the rug, ignoring them because the cause of their demise is uncomfortable to talk about. It’s the job of spiritual leaders to share truth – even if it’s hard. Our faith communities can do better. And to the ones who already are, we commend you.

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