News & Politics

Evangelicals Hold Strong in Opposing Legal Abortion, but Some Are Wavering

2018 March for Life sign: Already born? Check your privilege. Photo Credit: Tyler O'Neil, PJ Media.

A Pew Research Center survey shows that while most evangelicals oppose legal abortion in high numbers, some have edged close to the national figure of 57 percent in their support.

Members of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) are the highest-ranked evangelicals in support of legal abortion (54%), followed by those in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (46%) and Seventh-Day Adventists (42%). All other evangelicals are below 40 percent in their support of abortion:

Churches of Christ: 36%

Southern Baptist Convention: 30%

Church of the Nazarene: 27%

Assemblies of God: 26%

Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee): 20%

“Among all those who are part of the evangelical tradition, nearly twice as many say they oppose legal abortion as support it,” Pew reports.

The numbers are even more stark when you compare evangelicals to people who aren’t religious. While 70 percent of white evangelical Protestants think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, 80 percent of Americans who are not affiliated with a church are supportive of legal abortion, along with two-thirds of white mainline Protestants:

Only 35% of those who are part of the mainline Protestant tradition say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, with 60% in support of keeping abortion legal. Members of the Episcopal Church (79%) and the United Church of Christ (72%) are especially likely to support legal abortion, while most members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the mainline Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (65%) also take this position.

Most of those surveyed agreed with their denomination’s official policy on abortion, but this was not true in every case. The PCA’s stance, for example, opposes abortion, stating that it is the “intentional killing of an unborn child between conception and birth.” The denomination holds to the sanctity of life and the personhood of the unborn.

In the same way, the Catholic Church officially opposes legalized abortion, holding to the sanctity of life. However, 48 percent of its members surveyed deviated from the church’s stance and said they supported legal abortion. In a 2017 Pew report comparing Protestants and Catholics, that number jumps to 53 percent.

How committed people are to their faith plays a big role in whether they are for or against legal abortion. Most of those who said religion is very important in forming their view about abortion oppose it (73%). People who attend religious services once a week are also against legal abortion (53%), as are those who pray daily (71%) and read the Bible at least once a week (52%).

Here is a complete list of the survey of Americans’ views on abortion by religious group:

Unitarian Universalist: 90%

Atheist: 87%

Agnostic: 87%

Jewish: 83%

Buddhist: 82%

Episcopal Church: 79%

United Church of Christ: 72%

Hindu: 68%

Presbyterian Church USA: 65%

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 65%

African Methodist Episcopal Church: 64%

United Methodist Church: 58%

All U.S. Adults: 57%

National Baptist Convention: 57%

Anglican Church: 56%

Muslim: 55%

Presbyterian Church in America: 54%

Orthodox Christian: 53%

Catholic: 48%

American Baptist Churches USA: 47%

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: 46%

Seventh-Day Adventist: 42%

Church of God in Christ: 41%

Churches of God in Christ: 36%

Southern Baptist Convention: 30%

Mormon: 27%

Church of the Nazarene: 27%

Assemblies of God: 26%

Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.): 20%

Jehovah’s Witness: 18%