Journal Article

Attitudes Toward Abortion among Religious Traditions in the United States: Change or Continuity?

John P. Hoffmann and Sherrie Mills Johnson

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 66, issue 2, pages 161-182
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Attitudes Toward Abortion among Religious Traditions in the United States: Change or Continuity?

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Abortion continues to be a highly contentious issue in the United States, with few signs of abatement. The goal of this paper is to specify how variable positions about abortion across religious traditions have led to differential shifts in attitudes among their members. Based on culturally relevant events, position papers, and other religious media, the guiding hypotheses propose that Evangelicals have become increasingly opposed to abortion for elective reasons; yet changes in attitudes regarding abortion for traumatic reasons are due primarily to cohort shifts. Data from the cumulative General Social Surveys (1972–2002) are used to test the hypotheses. The first hypothesis is supported: Opposition to elective abortions among Evangelicals has increased relative to other religious traditions. However, contrary to the second hypothesis, they have also become more opposed to abortion for traumatic reasons. This increasing opposition is most prominent among Evangelicals born in the last 40 years or so. Implications for understanding Evangelical distinctiveness and the cultural context of abortion attitudes are discussed.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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