While the pro-choice and the pro-life positions of denominations have become fairly settled, some change is taking place in mainline denominations, according to an article in Touchstone magazine (March).
The main divide on abortion has been between mainline Protestants, on the one side, and evangelicals and Roman Catholics, on the other, but, at least among the United Methodists and the Presbyterian Church (USA), there has been a gradual shift in the pro-life direction. The UMC issued a statement at its 2008 conference asking its members to “respect the sacredness of the life and wellbeing” of the unborn child, where previously it only mentioned the life and well-being of the mother.
The denomination also called for parental (or other adult) notification for minors having an abortion and for greater involvement in crisis pregnancy centers. The church remains officially pro-life, although the influence of a pro-life group such as the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality has grown in the denomination. The same trend is evident in the PCUSA, which stated in 2002 that an abortion performed after fetal viability is a matter of “grave moral concern.”
Writer Dennis Di Mauro notes that even without the mainline drift toward the pro-life side, most of the world’s Christian churches are predominantly pro-life. Using data from the World Christian Encyclopedia and Adherents.com, Di Mauro did a statistical analysis of the world’s Christian denominations with respect to their position on abortion. Even when he categorized denominations whose position on abortion was unknown as being pro-choice, he still found that 72 per cent of the world’s approximately two billion Christians worship in pro-life denominations.
Di Mauro adds, “Taking into consideration the large number of unaffiliated prolife churches that exist in the world, it is likely that more than 75 per cent of the world’s Christian churches are pro-life or in other words, that pro-life churches outnumber pro-choice ones by at least a three-to-one margin.”
(Touchstone, P.O. Box 410788, Chicago, IL 60647)