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Pew Study: How Different Religious Groups View Abortion

While the issue of abortion in the United States is often characterized as a conflict between religious and secular views, new research shows that the issue remains contentious and even unresolved within different religious groups.

A compilation of data from Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study, released on June 21, reveals that opinions on abortion differ widely among America's religious citizens.

The two largest Christian denominations in the United States - the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention - show no ambivalence about opposing abortion. According to the study, the Catholic Church opposes it under every circumstance, while Southern Baptists allow for an exception if the mother's life is in danger.

Other religious denominations that oppose abortion with little to no exceptions are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), The Assemblies of God (Pentecostal), and Hinduism.

On the other side of the debate, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Reform and Conservative Judaism permit woman to have an abortion with few exceptions.

There are other denominations who take more nuanced views on the issue: The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church all support a woman's right to have an abortion but call for certain time limits on when a woman may be able to terminate her pregnancy.

Islam and Orthodox Judaism have no central view on abortion rights and contain a range of views on what is and is not acceptable.

And this data has not even looked at churchgoing individuals' own views on the subject, which are tempered by influences other than religion. As an example, about half of U.S. Catholics (48 percent) said they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, even though the Catholic Church is perhaps the most unequivocal religious institution in the U.S. about opposing abortion in all cases.

The study showed that the highest amount of support for abortion rights by percentage of adults came from Buddhist, Jewish and religiously unaffiliated citizens. The least amount of support came from Jehovah's Witness, Mormon and Evangelical Protestant citizens.

Sources: Pew Research (2) / Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

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