Trump Falsely Claimed That ‘Everyone’ — Including Faith Leaders — Opposed Roe | Sojourners

Trump Falsely Claimed That ‘Everyone’ — Including Faith Leaders — Opposed Roe

Presumptive presidential nominess President Joe Biden and former U.S. President Donald Trump stand at their podiums at the start of a presidential debate in Atlanta, Ga., on June 27, 2024. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

During CNN’s presidential debate, the two presumptive nominees discussed their views on abortion rights, with former President Donald J. Trump taking credit for overturning federal abortion rights, and President Joe Biden promising to restore them if elected.

When CNN’s Dana Bash asked Trump about the overturning of Roe and whether he would allow legal access to abortion pills, Trump falsely stated that when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, “everyone” disagreed with the ruling.

“Everybody wanted to get it back to the states, everybody without exception,” Trump said. “Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives — everybody wanted it back — religious leaders … This is something that everybody wanted.”

But some religious leaders have supported abortion access since before 1973, and after Roe, religious groups — even some theologically conservative groups — supported the decision.

As Sojourners’ Bekah McNeel previously reported, historian Neil J. Young found that, although some religious groups opposed abortion morally, Catholics were “nearly alone” in their call to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In the 1960s, before Roe, denominations from the United Church of Christ, American Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church, the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A, and the Lutheran Church in America, stated support for legal abortion, according to sociologist Sabrina Danielsen.

The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution in 1971 “to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother,” two years before Roe. In 1974, they reaffirmed that resolution, calling it a “middle ground between the extreme of abortion on demand and the opposite extreme of all abortion as murder.”

American Baptists passed a resolution in 1968 saying that Christ called them to affirm the sanctity of life and personal freedoms. The statement said they “recognize that abortion should be a matter of responsible personal decision.”

But denominational support for legal abortion was not the only religious support for abortion access. The Clergy Consultation Service, which became the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, supported people seeking abortions in 25 states around the time of the Roe decision.

“Clergy support came from a wide range of denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Methodist, Episcopal, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist, and others. When the service began in 1967, abortion was illegal in all states,” McNeel reported. “The service would help young women in need of abortions connect to safe, reputable clinics, usually involving some amount of travel. They offered counsel and spiritual support as well. As abortion became legal state-by-state, the CCS was able to guide women to legal clinics in states like New York.”

Even today, as some conflate religious identity with opposition to abortion, many religious groups support legal abortion access. Over 60 percent of evangelicals oppose legal abortion in “all/most cases,” but one-third of evangelicals support abortion legality in “all/most cases,” according to the Pew Research Center, as do a narrow majority — 48 percent — of Catholics.

Sixty percent of mainline Protestants support legal abortion, as do 52 percent of historically Black Protestant Christians, compared to 42 percent of historically Black Protestant Christians who oppose it. Fifty-three percent of Orthodox Christians support legal abortion, according to the polling. And large majorities of Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist Americans support legal abortion.

For religious activists who support legal abortion access, many directly cite their faith for their position.

“We need religious strategies and solutions to what is a deeply religious problem for some people,” Elaina Ramsey, executive director of Faith Choice Ohio previously told Sojourners.

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