Home Pastors Los Angeles churches react to Roe vs. Wade ending

Los Angeles churches react to Roe vs. Wade ending

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For Pastor Netz Gómez and the 1,500 members of his Houses of Light church in Northridge, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was an answer to their prayers and decades of hard work.

“We thank God that this injustice has finally been rectified and that states have the right to decide how they want to proceed with abortion rights,” said the pastor, a Mexico native who founded the church in his hometown. salon 22 years ago and has regularly delved deeper into American politics. “But we really thank God because we have prayed so much for an end to abortion. Abortion is an injustice. Killing babies is an injustice.

Over the past few days, Pastor Gómez has received hundreds of text messages from congregants and friends supporting the court’s decision, and when he spoke about it from the pulpit on Saturday evening, his congregation cheered.

Over the weekend in Southern California, followers of many different faiths reacted in diverse ways with jubilation and grief, joy and anger, to the court’s momentous decision.

On Sunday, 30 miles south and east of Houses of Light, the Reverend Alfredo Feregrino, associate rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, said he knew immediately he had to rewrite his sermon when he learned of Friday’s decision from a deluge of texts and emails.

People attend a Friday night vigil at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena with Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

The church held a Friday night vigil with Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley to mourn the loss of constitutional right, and hung a red banner declaring ‘Abortion is health’ outside the church. church for weeks.

In a Sunday morning sermon inside a chapel adorned with rainbow flags, Feregrino said the decision would have the most severe effects on people living in poverty, those on low incomes and people with irregular access to health care. If the move was really about protecting babies, he said, there would be “months and months of parental leave for everyone,” free diapers and formula, universal preschool and more. forms of parental support.

The congregation applauded and shouted their assent.

For some among the Christian faithful – especially many Catholics and Evangelicals – the decision that allows individual states to decide whether and under what circumstances abortions will be legal, if at all, represents a long-awaited step to save precious unborn life. , while for others it is an incomprehensible attack on the fundamental right of women to decide for themselves what is best for their lives and those of their families.

And for some on both sides of the debate, their views have been deeply shaped by personal experiences.

Among those cheering on the Houses of Light benches was Zohira Miramda, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico at age 13 and had an abortion at age 19.

She said it was the hardest decision of her life.

Miramda was already raising two toddlers at the time, and the economic difficulties of having another baby seemed insurmountable. She decided to have a surgical abortion. And to this day, she laments what could have been.

A parishioner of Houses of Light for eight years, Miramda said she was able to come to terms with these emotions because of her Christian faith. She thinks that if young girls were given more information about how they might feel after an abortion, fewer of them would undergo the procedure.

“It’s that constant reminder that never escapes you,” she said.

In the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, Reverend Dr. ST Williams Jr., 97-year-old pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, a historically African-American church, offered a different perspective.

Although the Synod of the Lutheran Church of Missouri supports the court’s decision, Williams said the decision “set us back as a nation, as a people and as a culture.”

Williams, who leads a congregation of 375 Black American families, as well as Caribbean, African and Latino parishioners, many of them immigrants, said the nation is already on edge over COVID-19, mass shootings and inflation.

Telling people “they no longer have the right to choose” will not allow for good family planning and will hurt those who can least afford to have children.

“It’s a sad day for a minister in the Lutheran Church because it will cause a lot of chaos and calamity,” he said of the decision. “You don’t allow people to be who they want to be.”

Pastor Steve Lee, the English-speaking senior pastor of Gereja Injili Indonesia Los Angeles from Azusaalso known as the Indonesian Evangelical Church of Azusa, said that for him Roe’s overthrow against Wade was personal.

Twenty years earlier, Lee and his wife had received news from a genetic counselor about their pregnancy: their daughter, the couple’s first child, would be born with Down syndrome.

Lee and his wife decided to carry the child to term. Six months later, their daughter was born without Down syndrome.

“What struck us, looking back, was the idea that some in society view a child with Down syndrome as less than a person, that they don’t deserve life,” Lee said. “All life should be treated with dignity.”

Lee understands that there will be celebration for some and anxiety for others. What he fears most, however, is the growing schism among Americans with opposing views.

“Thoughtful Christians also see the greater division, which is expected, but there is greater violence and hatred that has become the norm,” he said. “The vitriol that is and continues to come will only unleash more violence and destruction of life.”

Although the politics of abortion and religion have focused on Christians of various persuasions, representatives of other faiths spent the weekend weighing the implications of the court’s action.

In a sermon on Saturday morning, Rabbi David Wolpe of the conservative Sinai Temple Synagogue in Westwood acknowledged that speaking about the Supreme Court decision from the pulpit was difficult and that he expected people disagree with his message. Ultimately, he said, Jewish law is unequivocal that it is not murder to have an abortion, but it is also clear that a fetus is potential life.

Rabbi David Wolpe sits in a desk.

Rabbi David Wolpe of the conservative Sinai Temple in Westwood says that ultimately Jewish law is unequivocal that it’s not murder to have an abortion, but it’s also clear that a fetus is life potential.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Wolpe supports a woman’s right to decide whether she wants an abortion no matter where she lives in the United States, but he also said he will not defame those who disagree with him.

“I make, and I hope you do, a presumption of kindness to those who disagree with me,” he told congregants. “I don’t think on one side people don’t care about life, or on the other side people don’t care about women.”

“I think it’s a deep and divisive issue,” he said.