On Sunday, many Christian churches across the country will celebrate the news of Roe’s end with sermons lauding the monumental victory for life. Already on Twitter we can see a preview of what’s to come. Some nascent debates among Christians there have begun to form: whether to address ways to help pregnant mothers, whether to begin talking about the next legal and cultural battlegrounds, whether to reach out for common ground with the pro-choice side or look for ways to soothe the national anguish.
But, with some exceptions from more progressive groups, the immediate reaction from many Christian leaders to Dobbs has been triumphant.
While religious Americans are by no means uniform in opposing abortion (a majority of Catholics, for example, believe abortions should be legal in all or most cases), the political power for the pro-life movement has been driven by white evangelicals, while Catholics have historically provided the movement’s intellectual scaffolding. So the most visible and influential responses have been from those Christians who fought to get us here.
Nodding to that fight, many major organizations have released statements that touted the historical nature of the ruling, while still reminding the public of the work left to do.
Bart Barber, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention:
Southern Baptists rejoice at the ruling that the United States Supreme Court has delivered today. … State-by-state, mother-by-mother, heart-by-heart, we will continue our sacred work toward this goal.
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
This is a historic day in the life of our country, one that stirs our thoughts, emotions and prayers. For nearly fifty years, America has enforced an unjust law that has permitted some to decide whether others can live or die. … The pro-life movement deserves to be numbered among the great movements for social change and civil rights in our nation’s history.
Walter Kim, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals:
God is the author of life, and every human life from conception to death has inestimable worth. Under Roe v. Wade, our ability to consider policies that safeguard life at the most vulnerable stage was severely limited. While the Dobbs decision doesn’t resolve all the questions on abortion policy, it does remove an impediment to considering pro-life concerns.
Individual faith leaders and more overtly political groups were less restrained in relishing their win.
James Dobson, former Focus on the Family leader:
Praise God! We have just received the news for which we have been praying and working!
Roe was built on a lie that somewhere hidden in our Constitution there existed a right to destroy children in the womb. … History will judge it as one of the court’s most shameful moments. But now the court has corrected its mistake.
The Conservative Baptist Network, the conservative faction inside the SBC:
Today is a major victory for the sanctity of human life and an answer to many, many years of fervent prayer.
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family:
Today is the day to give thanks to God - life wins!
CatholicVote, a conservative Catholic political group:
June is now Life Month.
Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University:
‘The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled.’ Some of the sweetest words uttered in American history. Today is a historic day of celebration.
Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, a megachurch in Lake Forest, California:
Millions of unborn Americans say thank you!
Some released statements that highlighted the justices’ heroism in the face of pressure from the left.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council:
Despite incredible unprecedented pressure from the pro-abortion movement, including leaking the opinion before it was officially released, the members of the Court held fast to their constitutional duty. The Court maintained its independence and in doing so, upheld its integrity and preserved the foundation of justice.
Others hinted at what might come next.
Bill Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League, teased a fight over emergency contraceptives:
Aside from the legal matters, abortion involves a host of biological and moral issues. The DNA that makes us all unique human beings is present at conception, and not a day later. It is a credit to the Catholic Church that it led the discussion on the morality of abortion for all these years.
We’re coming for Griswold next.
But there were those among the pro-life faction who took the time to remind their followers of the pain that their victory would cause, and the responsibility they had to face that pain.
As Timothy Dalrymple, the president and CEO of Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, put it:
We celebrate the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. … It could be the most significant moral achievement of a generation.
The end of Roe will honor the sanctity of human life and deliver children safely into the world. It will also bring real hardships for many mothers. The best way we can celebrate the children who will be born of Roe’s demise is to love the mothers who raise them.
For more on religion’s role in the abortion debate, listen to an episode from this season of Slow Burn on a Catholic couple from Cincinnati who kickstarted the right-to-life movement with their Handbook on Abortion.