Why Do Our Churches Stay So Silent?
A few years ago, my wife and I were serving on a clear Saturday morning with around a dozen other volunteers in a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic. Catholic churches had sent the most representatives, including one who graciously asked, “Where are the Protestants?” I wondered the same, as well as why the sidewalk wasn’t filled with more Christians from any church.

By: Robert Morris

A few years ago, my wife and I were serving on a clear Saturday morning with around a dozen other volunteers in a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic. Catholic churches had sent the most representatives, including one who graciously asked, “Where are the Protestants?” I wondered the same, as well as why the sidewalk wasn’t filled with more Christians from any church.

As a whole, churches are falling short in making abortion unthinkable. According to 2014 survey data published in Pew Research’s Religious Landscape Study, a majority of adults, even in some conservative churches, think abortion should be legal in all or most cases—for example, 56% in the Anglican Church and 54% in the Presbyterian Church in America.1  Last year Pew reported that viewpoint’s share had risen among Catholics from 48% in 2014 to 56% in 2022.2

Many women in our pews have had abortions, often hiding their histories. According to a survey sponsored by CareNet, an estimated 36% of women were attending church at least monthly at the time of their first abortion. Among self-identified evangelical Christians who have had abortions, 51% said local churches had no influence on their decisions…while 61% said churches lacked ministries ready to discuss options during unplanned pregnancies.3

Moreover, many of us attend churches where worship services rarely announce support for women struggling with unplanned pregnancies—let alone preach sermons on the Sanctity of Life.

Given America’s average death rate of over 2500 unborn babies a day, why do churches stay so silent?  Why do we show little urgency in saving unborn lives and rescuing women from lifetimes of possible pain and regret?

Perhaps we don’t want to drive away members who are plagued by raw memories of their own abortions and still need to hear about God’s forgiveness and redemption.  

Perhaps we’re afraid of appearing political from the pulpit, a common taboo despite the church’s tradition of speaking truth to power.  

Perhaps we worry members would be upset with us if they were shown abortions on the screen in a documentary like The Matter of Life or the dramatization of Abby Johnson’s memoir, Unplanned—even though viewers could come away instead with a visceral pro-life passion.  

Perhaps we don’t want pro-life calls to distract from the gospel message. And yet, as James 2:14 reminds us, faith without works is dead.  It’s hard to imagine work nearer God’s heart than saving the lives of babies while rescuing their mothers.

For those churches staying silent, pastors and lay leaders could do so much more to save lives: 

Start by reading John Ensor’s Answering the Call for guidance on invigorating our churches and “lancing the boil” of guilt in members who have supported or suffered abortions.4  

Educate members in sermons and classes on the Bible’s validation of life in the womb, along with sonograms’ vivid proof of preborn life. Anglicans For Life (AFL) has wonderful sermons to inspire you online.  

Describe the damage abortion is doing, the spiritual warfare behind it, and the deception in phrases like “reproductive health care”.  Share testimonies from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign

Draw people away from the straddling cliché of personally opposing abortion while not imposing their views on anyone else.  

Recommend books like Shawn Carney and Steve Karlen’s What to Say When in defending life.5  Share stories from Lila Rose’s Fighting for Life about abortion clinic coverups of sex trafficking and statutory rape plus selective abortions based on race, gender, and disability.6  

Arrange showings of movies like The Matter of Life and Unplanned, and invite members to watch.  Offer courses like CareNet’s Making Life Disciples or HerPLAN’s Pathways to Life,7 8 or AFL’s Project Life

Encourage members to serve, too.  Post signup sheets for volunteer opportunities—from meeting material needs to supporting pregnancy resources (like pregnancy care centers, Young Lives, and Embrace Grace) with feet on the ground.  

Inspire students to serve as first responders with friends or loved ones in need of urgent help.  Train first responders to explain life affirming options, offer local pregnancy resources, and take women in crisis there.

Link arms with other churches and denominations in not only these efforts but also public vigils and marches for life. Use AFL’s Life Lectionary to read Life-Affirming Scripture reflections.

In sum, show every member how to multiply the church’s pro-life impact on this world. If we really want to make abortion unthinkable, let’s raise our voices and energize our congregations. With so many lives at stake, silence is unacceptable.


Citations

[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/ (Complete Report PDF)

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2022/05/06/americans-views-on-whether-and-in-what-circumstances-abortion-should-be-legal

[3] Care Net/Lifeway Research, Study of Women who have had an Abortion and Their Views on Church, 2015

[4] John Ensor, Answering the Call: Saving Innocent Lives One Woman at a Time, Hendrickson Publishers, 2012

[5] Shawn D. Carney and Steve Karlen, What to Say When, Kolbe & Anthony Publishing, 2021

[6] Lila Rose, Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World, Nelson Books, 2021

[7] https://www.makinglifedisciples.com

[8] https://herplan.org/national-pathways-to-life/


Robert Morris, Guest Blogger

Robert Morris recently retired from a career in management to devote more time to family, friends, travel, and volunteer work as well as writing. After attending AFL Life SUMMIT 2022, he was inspired to share his gift of writing with Anglicans For Life.

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