Church Silence on Abortion: Deafening and Deadly

Sean Martin is senior director of Church Outreach at Human Coalition.
Sean Martin is senior director of Church Outreach at Human Coalition.

Here's a sobering fact: the majority of women who undergo abortions also claim an affiliation with faith in Jesus. According to the Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of the abortion industry), a combined 54 percent of women who underwent abortions in 2014 identified themselves as Protestant or Catholic Christians.

Scripture and the classical philosophies underpinning Christian theology are both clear: abortion is a moral evil. So what is behind the disconnection between belief and action when it comes to the abortion choice? Research suggests the weak link is our churches. As a pastor, I find this alarming and unacceptable.

Last year, LifeWay Research found that a staggering 76 percent of women report that local churches had no influence on their decision to abort their children. Also alarming? Fourteen percent of women surveyed indicated that their local church either encouraged, paid for, or assisted in some way with the procurement of the abortion.

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Likewise, a survey conducted by the Barna Group reveals some convicting facts about the abortion conversation in our churches. The survey, conducted between December, 2015, and January, 2016, found that only 1 in 10 Protestant pastors reported preaching on the pro-life cause in the last 6 months. This is an arresting figure considering the women sitting in the congregation on Sunday are just as likely to undergo abortions as women walking by outside on the street. For far too long the church has allowed the culture to dictate the rules of engagement. Instead of being the shaper of culture, we are shaped by the culture.

In his book, "Deliver Us From Abortion," Human Coalition President Brian Fisher examined the posture of America's most well-attended churches toward abortion and what they are doing to end the abortion holocaust. Many American churches, Fisher found, changed their official stances and attitudes toward abortion contemporaneous to the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions (in 1973) which removed all previously existing restrictions on abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Instead of maintaining Biblical and philosophical integrity on abortion, Christian churches kowtowed to a popular agenda. And countless families have paid the price for this betrayal.

When their church leaders fail to affirm the dignity of life and moral evil of abortion, it's no wonder Christian women are as susceptible to the abortion industry as others. The church's posture of silence is counter-intuitive for leaders ostensibly committed to preaching the Gospel of Christ — a Gospel of compassion, justice, and care for the most vulnerable in society.

The reality is that many churches have spent decades sitting on the sidelines of the abortion debate, and even adopting stances on the issue in stark opposition to Biblical principles. Until recently, for example, the United Methodist Church maintained that "tragic conflicts of life with life may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion [...]" How many church-going Methodist women were betrayed by abortion because their church failed to affirm the innate value of both the mother and her unborn child?

And the problem does not end at the pulpit. Only 2 percent of mainline Protestant pastors told the Barna Group that their church had its own pro-life programs and/or activities. This suggests that conversations about abortion are simply not happening within our churches. Our churches have food pantries, ministries to the sick and homebound, missionary outreach to peoples who do not know Christ. We are clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and spreading the Gospel all in a bubble sanitized of the evil that is ravaging the women and families in our very pews. We must hold our churches to a higher standard.

So here's a challenge to you: ask your pastor to preach about abortion. Start a pro-life ministry at your church. If you are a pastor in need of guidance for engaging your church in the abortion conversation or a churchgoer who needs resources for spearheading pro-life outreach in your church community, contact Human Coalition's Church Outreach team. We'll be with you every step of the way.

Sean Martin is a husband to Jill and father to 11 children, 9 of whom are adopted. He has pastored churches for 15 years and now serves as the Senior Director of Church Outreach for Human Coalition. Human Coalition is one of the largest pro-life organizations in the country, committed to ending abortion in America by rescuing children and serving families in key, abortion-riddled communities nationwide.

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