Black churches welcome the possible end of Roe v. Wade with contradiction

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When a draft opinion of the Supreme Court was leaked indicating that Raw vs. Wade Reverend Sheryl Sanders felt the conflict could be reversed.

The senior pastor of Third Street Church in Washington, D.C. doesn’t personally support abortion but is sick of the politics around being labeled “pro-life” and wrestles with how to address the issue before the predominantly black congregants. “If you understand that the term is politicized, it is fraught with racial problems, exceptions, and blind spots,” she says. Sanders does not want to side with conservative activists from the far right, with whom she disagrees on many social issues.

But what does the Bible say?

Sanders says he’s “completely pro-life, but not in a political way. It’s a theological perspective.”

While many conservative white evangelicals rejoiced after the draft opinion was revealed, reception in black churches was often more complex. Some black church leaders say they can’t help viewing the debate from a racial perspective: Black women are more likely to have a miscarriage, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, while government reports show they are three times more likely than white women. Died from complications of pregnancy.

Even among those who oppose abortion, the topic is fraught with danger. Research shows that black priests are less likely to mention abortion in their sermons than white priests in evangelical churches, and opposition is often more implicit than directly stated.

“We don’t have a rule in our church, that if you had an abortion, you could be fired or convicted,” Sanders says. “For me, it’s not that hard and fast.”

She eventually decided to make only a quick reference to the pending court decision during her Sunday service, though she knew it would be on the minds of many. “I don’t preach politics,” she says. But she appealed to congregants to “help women make good choices about motherhood, make good choices about their bodies, and make good choices about their families.”

The split reflects how these target groups, who may want the same outcome, have different visions to achieve. While black churchgoers share religious values ​​with white Christians, their racial identity, combined with historical mistrust on issues such as civil rights, has made it difficult to come together, says Rev. John Phils Im, senior chaplain at Central Baptist Church on the West Side Upstairs from New York City.

“There are a lot of things we share in common,” says Phils Amy. But “evangelism in black churches and evangelical in white churches means something different.”

Reverse Raw vs. Wade It would be an “empty victory” if not paired with more resources for young mothers to address the financial and health risks that black women face, he said.

“People with the means still find a way to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. And for those poor people, communities of color, if they are desperate enough, they will still find a way to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy,” he says. He worries that desperation will lead black women to seek unsafe abortions.

In his draft opinion, Judge Samuel Alito made the issue of race. “It is indisputable Ro This had a demographic effect,” the draft states. “Some of these proponents were motivated by a desire to suppress the size of the African American population.” He also cited an opinion written by Judge Clarence Thomas in the 2019 case. Box v. Planned Parenthood in Indiana and Kentucky: Thomas argued that there is a “disguised interest in the states in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics.”.

“He’s intellectually disingenuous,” says Reverend William Lamar IV of the capital’s Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church of Alito’s draft opinion. “They don’t care about black kids. You can’t care about black kids and gut pre-leave in the Voting Rights Act.”

What Supreme Court Justices Said About Abortion and Roe v. Wade

Black churchgoers, of course, are not a monolith. Black Protestants (66 percent) were more likely than Catholics generally (56 percent) or white evangelicals (24 percent) to agree that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a March 2022 Pew Research Center survey.

Many black church leaders believe that there are other issues that more deeply affect the daily lives of worshippers.

“There are more pressing issues in the black community than abortion. Why are our black children still being killed by the police? Why is HBCU still not funded by the government in the same way white schools are funded? I think we are reasonable enough to realize that if we spend time Not long into things like this.” Reverend Lyntisha Roberts Henley of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Cherry Street in Dothan says… …that’s just a distraction.

But on the issue of abortion, the leaders of the black church were more silent. Only 22 percent of black congregants who attended black churches hear sermons about abortion, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, compared to 28 percent of black congregants who attended predominantly white churches. They were also more likely to be sermons about voting, protest, and political participation than those who attended predominantly white churches.

Even when the black anti-abortion clergy openly called on those who disagreed with them, they did so with kindness. During the 2020 US Senate run-off in Georgia, Reverend Raphael J. More than two dozen church leaders have asked him to reconsider his “gross errors of judgment and fall into pastoral responsibility” while also praising his “efforts to engage Christ while seeking political solutions to our most pressing problems today.” Warnock did not do that to retreat.

Monique Moultrie, an associate professor of African and Religious Studies at Georgia State University who studies the intersection of abortion and faith, interviewed dozens of black women in North Carolina who had had abortions. Most reported that their sponsors did not address the issue, she said. They knew God loved them, she says, but they also “knew what they did was a sin. … God would not be pleased with it.”

Many black churches are led by men who feel unprepared to talk about abortion even if they disagree with it personally, says Reverend Earl J. So the topic stays out of sight at many congregations, says Fisher, who is a member of Planned Parenthood’s clergy advocacy board.

He says most women who trust him about an abortion do so after months or years. “Guilt and shame are still hanging on their heads.”

What would happen if Roe v. Wade was dismissed?

When KJ got pregnant when she was about 22, she didn’t tell anyone in her conservative, predominantly black church. She really felt judged when fellow devotees learned she had sex outside of marriage, says KJ, who spoke on the condition that only her initials should be used for privacy reasons. Abortion was never a recurring topic in church sermons, but opposition was tacit if not explicitly mentioned. She was upset that anyone would find out, but she went on to have an abortion.

Twenty years later, she told only a few members of her family. “They’ll talk about it but still feel the same – it’s murder,” she says. “It won’t change anyone’s mind.”

Roberts Henley says her approach to counseling women about abortion reflects her own development on the issue.

She remembers a 14-year-old pregnant girl who wanted an abortion but her family convinced her not to by citing the Bible. The promised family assistance came less than you might expect, causing more pressure and restrictions on adulthood with motherhood as its new focal point. Roberts Henley says she stayed on the sidelines when advising the teen but watched her struggle afterward.

“Growing up in the black church, we’ve always been taught that murder is a sin. For a long time, I’ve been looking at it specifically that way,” she says. But as I got older, “I realized that people have to make a better choice for their lives that depends on the situation and the scenario. That’s how I became more open to people who have the right to choose for themselves.”

Sarah William Bailey contributed to this report.

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