Pastors Engage Congregations on Issue 1 as Election Day Approaches – Word&Way

With the general election Tuesday, advocates and opponents of state Issue 1 are making their last pleas to the public.

On Nov. 7, voters will have their say as to whether abortion and other reproductive rights will be inserted into the Ohio Constitution.

The moral and political battles among those who believe the government should not control a pregnant person’s body and those who believe abortion should not be considered an inalienable right have blurred the lines between religious and governmental wills.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Religious lobbies like Ohio Right to Life and the Center for Christian Virtue, along with the Catholic Conference of Ohio, have spoken out against Issue 1, often presenting arguments that the measure would reduce the control a woman would have over her own body, sharing medically debunked claims and decrying the loss of parental rights, which constitutional lawyers say isn’t part of the amendment.

On the other side, some pastors have been talking to their congregations about the impacts on Ohio if Issue 1 isn’t passed. Rev. Amariah McIntosh, pastor of the Phillips Chapel CME Church in Akron, watched as state legislators put forth several attempts to ban and/or regulate abortion and information about abortion, despite those same legislators claiming to support “small government.”

“One the one hand, they don’t want the government to interfere with their lives,” McIntosh said. “They want to pass these laws that interfere with everybody else’s lives.”

But the autonomy of a woman is part of McIntosh’s belief system, she said, and the freedom to choose goes right along with the guidance she gives those that attend her church.

“Every woman that God has made, God has given full autonomy,” McIntosh said. “And in all of human history, God has not changed that.”

At Woodland Christian Church, Dr. Eric Brown said it’s been easy to talk about the benefits Issue 1 would bring. The church has an older demographic, and serves a predominantly female and African American membership.

Brown says the main theme at his church is “biblical justice,” the idea that every person should be treated with the same respect and standards.

“We believe that people have to make difficult decisions in life, and that God does not forsake those who have to make difficult decisions,” Brown said.

He said to fulfill their duties at Woodland, the congregation has to talk about politics, especially when they hold such an impact on everyday life, and they consult scripture to find guidance.

“The church has the right to guide its parishioners based on the church’s understanding of that particular area,” Brown said. “The government can’t make the church do things, but the church can definitely make the government do right.”

And with medical cases that vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, Brown said his congregation supports the idea that their religious beliefs match with the idea that a pregnant person can make their own decisions.

“Women deserve the freedom to consult with their doctors and their partners,” Brown said.

Because of recent changes in election law, early voting won’t be held on Monday, but polls will open on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m., remaining open until 7:30 p.m. Voters must bring valid photo identification to their polling place.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 6 if mailed, but can be returned in person to county boards of election on Election Day.

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