Abortion killing mainline Protestants?
Looks like it:
Conservatives have often chided the mainline Protestant denominations for their dramatic membership losses, faulting the controversial liberal political advocacy of their churches' officials. No doubt there is truth in this. Most mainline Protestants are still conservative leaning, despite the chronic leftism of their church hierarchies. Many react in frustration by leaving.
But the demographic implosion may also have other, deeper contributing factors. One out of every six Americans belonged to a mainline denomination 40 years ago. Today it is one out of every 15. Writing for The American Journal of Sociology several years ago, Catholic priest (and romance potboiler author) Andrew Greeley, with two other sociologists, asserted that mainline Protestant decline is actually created by decades of declining birthrates in comparison to those for conservative Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Though Greeley et al. did not address it directly, mainline Protestant hierarchs long championed legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade, culminating in their founding of RCRC in 1973. Undoubtedly this had some impact on abortion rates among their own flocks. The lower birth rate among mainline Protestants can probably be explained, at least partly, by some level of increased moral ease with and resort to abortion (the "Roe Effect").
So perhaps unrestricted abortion is fueling the decline of the very same churches who have most championed it. The irony is a sad one.— Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist committee (UMAction) of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.