fbpx
News Articles

31% of churchgoers say their church supports pregnancy care centers


BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP) – Two years ago, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the nationwide right to an abortion. In the aftermath, many churchgoers say they’ve seen their congregations involved in supporting local pregnancy resource centers.

On June 24, 2022, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court opened the door for states to pass laws restricting abortion. In the aftermath, local pregnancy centers have received increased attention. A Lifeway Research study finds 3 in 10 U.S. Protestant churchgoers (31 percent) have seen at least one type of congregational connection with those local centers since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“In a survey of Americans conducted days before the Dobbs decision was leaked, almost two-thirds of Americans agreed churches and religious organizations have a responsibility to increase support for women who have unwanted pregnancies if their state restricts access to abortion,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “According to those who attend, the majority of Protestant churches in the U.S. are not supporting a pregnancy resource center that exists either separately or as part of their church.”

More than 1 in 8 churchgoers say their church has supported a local pregnancy resource center financially (16 percent), encouraged those in the congregation to support a center financially (14 percent) or encouraged the congregation to refer those with unplanned pregnancies to the center (14 percent). Another 11 percent say their church has encouraged the congregation to volunteer at a local pregnancy resource center, and 7 percent say the church has had a leader from the center speak at the church. Among those who say their congregation is involved with pregnancy resource centers in some way, the median number of activities churchgoers hear about is two.

Others aren’t aware of any connection between their congregation and a local pregnancy center. More than 2 in 5 churchgoers (44 percent) say they haven’t heard of their church being involved with any of these measures to support a local center. Less than 1 in 10 (8 percent) say there are no such pregnancy centers near their church. Around 1 in 7 (16 percent) say they aren’t sure how or if their church is involved.

“More than 4 in 10 pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended according to the Centers for Disease Control,” McConnell said. “Changes to the legality of abortion do not change the reality that a large number of women and couples are not planning for the positive pregnancy tests they receive. They need compassion, care and tangible help but are often not open to turning directly to a church for help.”

Churches offering assistance

Often, younger churchgoers and those who attend more frequently are among the most likely to say their church is working with local pregnancy centers. Those in Lutheran congregations and part of smaller churches are among the least likely.

Specifically, churchgoers under 50 (21 percent) are almost twice as likely as those 65 and older (11 percent) to say their church has financially supported a local pregnancy center. Restorationist Movement (22 percent), Baptist (19 percent) and non-denominational (16 percent) churchgoers are more likely than Lutherans (7 percent) to say this is the case at their church.

Additionally, those who attend four times a month or more (20 percent) are more likely than those who attend one to three times (11 percent) to have heard about their church giving financially to pregnancy centers. Churchgoers with evangelical beliefs (19 percent) are more likely than those without such beliefs (12 percent). And those at the largest churches, worship attendance of 500 or more, (23 percent) are among the most likely to say their church financially supports local pregnancy resource centers.

In terms of their churches asking them to financially give to such centers personally, adult churchgoers under 35 (23 percent) and those 35 to 49 (21 percent) are among the most likely to say their congregation has encouraged such support. Those at the smallest churches, less than 50 in worship attendance, (8 percent) are among the least likely.

Beyond financial support, churchgoers under 50 are also among the most likely to say their congregation has been encouraged to refer those with an unplanned pregnancy to those resource centers – 27 percent of those 18 to 34 and 22 percent of those 35 to 49. Hispanic Protestant churchgoers (24 percent) are twice as likely as white churchgoers (12 percent) to have heard this type of encouragement. Restorationist Movement (22 percent) and Baptist (16 percent) churchgoers are more likely than those at Lutheran (8 percent) or non-denominational (10 percent) churches to say their congregation has been encouraged in this way.

Those who attend less frequently, one to three times a month, (11 percent) and those attending the smallest churches, less than 50 in attendance, (10 percent) are among the least likely to have heard such encouragement in their congregations.

Younger churchgoers are again more likely to have heard calls to volunteer at local pregnancy resource centers. Those 18 to 34 (19 percent) and 35 to 49 (20 percent) are more likely than those 50 to 64 (8 percent) and 65 and over (5 percent). Hispanic churchgoers (21 percent) are more than twice as likely as white (9 percent) churchgoers to say their church has encouraged them to volunteer. Baptists (13 percent) and non-denominational churchgoers (12 percent) are three times as likely as Lutherans (4 percent).

Again, the less frequent attenders (8 percent) and those at the smallest congregations (3 percent) are among the least likely to say they’ve been encouraged by their church to volunteer at local pregnancy resource centers.

Older churchgoers, those who attend less frequently, those at smaller churches and Lutherans are among the least likely to say their churches have had a leader from a pregnancy resource center speak at their church since Roe v. Wade was overturned. White churchgoers (5 percent) are also half as likely as Hispanic (11 percent) and African American (10 percent) churchgoers to say this has happened in their congregations.

Churches that may not be helping as much

For some, their congregations may not be serving with local pregnancy centers because they aren’t aware of any near their churches. Those in the Northeast (15 percent) are more likely than those in the South (7 percent) or West (7 percent) to say that is the case.

Lutheran (14 percent) and Baptist (10 percent) churchgoers are more likely than those in Presbyterian/Reformed congregations (2 percent) to say their church is not near any such centers. Those who attend less frequently (12 percent) and those attending smaller congregations, less than 50 (15 percent) and 50 to 99 (12 percent), are also among the most likely to not be aware of any pregnancy centers nearby.

Regardless of how close a pregnancy resource center may be, some churchgoers aren’t aware of their church having any involvement with pregnancy centers since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Older churchgoers, those 65 and older (56 percent) and 50 to 64 (49 percent), are more likely than those 35 to 49 (32 percent) and 18 to 34 (22 percent) to say they haven’t heard of any of the five types of involvement.

White churchgoers (47 percent) and those of other ethnicities (56 percent) are more likely than African Americans (33 percent) and Hispanics (32 percent) to say they’re unaware of their church being involved. Lutherans (53 percent) are more likely than Baptist (42 percent) and non-denominational (42 percent) churchgoers to say they haven’t heard of their congregation being involved with pregnancy resource centers in any of the five ways.

“There is equal opportunity for all churches to point those with unintended pregnancies to help if there is a Christian pregnancy resource center nearby,” said McConnell. “Yet few churches are doing so in a way their congregation notices.”

For more information, view the complete report and visit LifewayResearch.com.

Methodology

The online survey of 1,008 American Protestant churchgoers was conducted Sept. 19-29, 2023, using a national pre-recruited panel. Respondents were screened to include those who identified as Protestant/non-denominational and attend religious services at least once a month. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, education and religion to reflect the population more accurately. The completed sample is 1,008 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 3.2 percent. This margin of error accounts for the effect of weighting. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Evangelical beliefs are defined using the NAE Lifeway Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition based on respondent beliefs. Respondents are asked their level of agreement with four separate statements using a four-point, forced-choice scale (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree). Those who strongly agree with all four statements are categorized as having evangelical beliefs:

  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
  • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.